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Senior Housing’s Double Impact

This article by Catherine J. Barrier was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

March 3, 1999. All rights reserved.

Global aging is coming to a head. By next year, throughout

industrial countries, people over 60 will outnumber those 14 or younger.

The burgeoning elderly population will greatly impact both the world’s

environment and its economy, as it already is beginning to do in Central

New Jersey.

One particular area being impacted by this demographic change is the

building industry. A new wave of senior housing is already rolling

in, depositing throughout the region not only new housing structures

but also innovative housing ideas.

On Monday, March 8, at 6:30 p.m., the Central Jersey Builders Association

(CJBA) will present a seminar entitled "We’re Not Old, We’re Just

Getting Older: the new housing wave for an aging population."

Scheduled for the Holiday Inn, just off of Exit 8A of the New Jersey

Turnpike, the seminar will include Joe Guidice of Jopari International

Ltd., formerly with Daily News in New York; David Wolff of Real

Estate Diagnostics, and Cathy Daly of Design East Inc. Guidice,

as the council’s president, will discuss the reasons for the creation

of the New Jersey State Senior Housing Council and talk about the

present state of the senior housing market. Wolff will speak from

a market consulting standpoint, and Daly will offer suggestions on

how the housing models should be decorated, depending on the segment

of the market being targeted. Cost: $45. Call: 732-968-4744.

Guidice is a graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey, Class of ’85,

and a member of the board of directors of CJBA since 1990. The CJBA

is covers Middlesex and Union counties (44 Stelton Road, Suite 210,

Piscataway 08854. 732-968-4744; fax, 732-968-8968). "There are

other locals throughout the state," says Guidice. "It doesn’t

matter what type of product they build, whether they build multi-family,

single-family, or senior housing."

The CJBA decided to create a statewide New Jersey senior housing council

a few year ago, because, says Guidice, there was no organization for

builders or associates to go to get information on that segment of

the market. "We’re basically there to provide information to people

in the industry about that segment of the market."

The council already has grown to become a regional council, "even

though the name’s still the same," Guidice says. "We have

members in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. As we’ve

provided information to our builders, we’ve found out that the other

states have the same problems, that their local organizations, or

even their state organizations, don’t give them the information they

need on that segment."

The New Jersey State Senior Housing Council is the largest statewide

organization of senior housing in the country. And it’s even received

national recognition. A few years ago it put together a symposium

on aging that the White House acknowledged as a White House conference

on the aging. Last November, a representative from the National Council

on Senior Housing came to a New Jersey meeting "to find out exactly

why we’ve been so successful. What they want is to create a prototype

organization that they can take to other markets instead of testing

it," says Guidice.

New Jersey builders face a particular challenge. "We don’t have

available land that they have in other parts of the country,"

says Guidice. "I think you’re going to be finding more of those

three- and four-story type structures to allow more homes on less

land and increase the density." New Jersey’s population is growing

two-fold. "So you have that age population that’s growing. In

addition to that, you have the immigrants adding to that growth and

that population segment," explains Guidice.

Two things in particular contribute to the changes in senior housing

along the U.S.1 corridor:

Most people are working longer, and many of them wish to

work from home . These facts impact the senior housing in the area.

"Even the structures themselves are being geared toward the non-retired

working person that’s living in these age-restricted communities,"

explains Guidice. More people are looking for an age-restricted community

with a full amenities package offering, among other items, an office,

fax, and modem.

Many seniors are returning to New Jersey from Florida,

because they miss their families and friends and — apart from

the climate — they prefer the lifestyle in New Jersey. More and

more seniors choose to spend three or four months in Florida and to

seek housing in New Jersey for the rest of the year.

The CJBA holds regular monthly meetings each second Monday of the

month. In addition, there are four or five educational breakfast meetings

and one or two major activities per year. For a breakfast in May,

Guidice hopes to offer a panel with a mayor, a borough engineer, and

a builder who have gotten together and actively brought senior housing

to a community.

Other events: bus tours. "Seniors can spend a full day looking

at only three communities, because you can’t make an intelligent decision

getting in and out of a community in five or ten minutes and getting

a brochure. It’s too confusing!" says Guidice.

With global aging a reality, the population increasing, and land in

limited supply, senior housing in New Jersey becomes an interesting

challenge. "We have to look at increasing the density of our product,"

says Guidice. "In other words, downsize the people from the homes

that they’re in without downgrading their lifestyle."

— Catherine J. Barrier

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