interior of a high-rise senior living community unit
A residence at Inspīr Carnegie Hill, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side

Senior living’s expansion into downtown urban areas caught the eye of the Wall Street Journal Friday.

“Fewer than 20 ultra high-end senior living communities exist in downtown urban areas across the country now,” National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care Chief Economist Beth Burnham Mace told the media outlet, adding that the number could conceivably triple, or more, over the next several years.

American Seniors Housing Association President David S. Schless predicted that one-fourth of new senior living development over the next five years will be in downtown urban areas as developers recognize that such areas have been underserved by the sector, which in the past has focused on the suburbs.

Maplewood Senior Living is one operator that fits the trend, last year opening its Inspīr Carnegie Hill on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Maplewood tentatively plans to build 10 Inspīr communities in downtown urban areas over the next five years, the Wall Street Journal reported. The expected locations include two or three more in Manhattan, two in Washington, one in Los Angeles, one in Seattle, one in the Miami area and maybe one in Chicago. The company also is considering developing three to five communities in central London, the media outlet said.

Watermark’s Elan Collection brand now includes five senior living communities around the United States, including one in New York. In eight to 10 years, the Wall Street Journal reported, 40% to 50% of Watermark’s communities will be in downtown urban areas, up from 10% to 15% today.

Late last year, Atria Senior Living, as part of a joint venture with Welltower and Related Companies, announced a new brand of senior living communities, Coterie, to be located in downtown urban areas. In March, Welltower said that the joint venture will develop two senior living communities, in Santa Clara and Cupertino, CA. The communities will be the third and fourth locations for the Coterie luxury brand of senior living. Coterie Cathedral Hill opened recently in San Francisco, and Coterie Hudson Yards will open later this year.

A $3 billion joint venture between Atria and Related was formed in 2018 to develop, own and operate communities catering to older adults living in major downtown urban areas. In 2020, Atria, Related, Welltower and Spitzer announced that they had closed on a partnership to bring another high-rise senior living property to New York City.

The real estate investment trust broke ground on Sunrise at East 56th in Manhattan in 2018, and the community is open now. That joint venture, with international real estate firm Hines, also includes a second Manhattan senior living high rise still under construction.