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Boomers on Campus

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The number of baby boomers entering retirement is expected to grow for several years, while the number of college-bound high-school grads is projected to decline.

We are back to the future, with more Boomers on Campus, and not just as students.

Retired boomers looking for a new way to retire may be just the answer for schools facing lower enrollments, because of shrinking student loan options, says The Wall Street Journal’s recent article “Seniors Want to Go Back to Class. Universities Want to Sell Them Real Estate.” Many are building or planning senior living facilities to cater to boomers who see retirement at college as a stimulating alternative to more traditional activities.

For many colleges, the land they own is the greatest asset. Many have already profited by developing hotels and high-end student housing. Senior housing now seems to be the next step. Lasell University, just west of Boston, built one of the first on-campus senior communities 20 years ago. Members are required to take a course load of 450 hours or activities each year. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Oberlin College in Ohio have created programs as well.

It makes sense for the schools, who are seeing the number of high-school students going to college decreasing, while retiree numbers climb.

The University of Central Florida is planning a community named Legacy Pointe, which will have almost 300 retirement homes. Located off of the main campus, it will offer easy transportation and bring in medical students for research and rotations.

The State University of New York at Purchase expects will be bringing Boomers on campus with construction on a 40-acre campus of senior living development with 220 homes priced at up to $1.9 million for a two-bedroom villa, in addition to monthly charges ranging from $3,000 to $10,000. Most of the original investment will be refunded when residents leave, similar to other senior living residences. A quarter of the units are already under contract, and the university must reach 70% before construction begins.

The piece of land for the campus represents a unique opportunity for the project developer, as there were few sites in the area, located less than 20 miles north of New York City in Westchester County, big enough for a senior living community.

While there may be an emerging glut of senior housing as more retirees decide to try to stay at home longer, this type of specialized retirement community is still in high demand. The interest in life-long learning and living on or close to a vibrant academic community is attractive to a generation of over-achievers.

In Tempe, the community at Arizona State University is situated in a high-rise project on the downtown campus, known as Mirabelle. Most of its 252 units have been sold, ranging from $380,000 to $1 million. The development opens in the fall of 2020.

Considering the amenities, concerts and other social activities of college life, it makes great sense for Boomers to move on a college campus.

Reference: The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 19, 2019) “Seniors Want to Go Back to Class. Universities Want to Sell Them Real Estate.”