Read Senior Housing News’ Finance & Development feature on Aspire’s owner Bonaventure and operator Solver Living:
“A multifamily developer is making a $200 million senior living play, with five such projects coming together under the company’s new Aspire brand, and potentially more on the way in the Mid-Atlantic.
Arlington, Virginia-based Bonaventure has communities under construction or development across the commonwealth, in Alexandria, Woodbridge, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Richmond. Overall, the company currently owns 22 apartment properties in Virginia and South Carolina.
In Richmond, Bonaventure is building a 148-unit independent living community on the campus of Acclaim at Carriage Hill — a 664-unit age-restricted apartment complex in Richmond it first acquired in 2002 — and is set to break ground next year on a second construction phase with a 120-unit assisted living and memory care building.
While the age-restricted property will still exist under the Acclaim branding, the expansion will operate under Bonaventure’s new senior living brand, Aspire.
Bonaventure’s future Aspire communities will range from about 125 to 150 units and include a mix of age-restricted housing, independent living, assisted living and memory care services. Planned amenities include an indoor pool, multiple dining venues, fitness facility and space for scrapbooking, gardening and other activities.
Rates for the communities are planned to start at around $2,800 to $3,000, depending on the market where it’s located.
The overall idea is to develop properties that will have a “Ritz Carlton experience at a Hilton hotel price level,” according to Bonaventure CEO Dwight Dunton III.
“We want to offer a tremendous value in terms of the best experience and product, but that doesn’t mean we have to be priced extremely high,” Dunton told Senior Housing News.
Solvere Senior Living — a St. Petersburg, Florida-based operating company with offices in Richmond — is the company’s sole senior living operating partner.
“We developed their [senior living] name and brand and are now about to open the sales office for their second senior living community,” Solvere CEO Kristin Kutac Ward told SHN.
Bonaventure plans to work on 15-20 senior living projects in the next five years, plus about the same number of non-age-restricted projects, Dunton explained.
Bonaventure’s foray into the larger senior living world first began in earnest about five years ago, when Dunton visited some senior apartment communities in Virginia to learn more about the product type.
He realized that, despite some differences in the customer served and amenities and features, multifamily and senior living buildings aren’t always diametrically opposed.
“Fundamentally, the buildings were constructed in the same ways we were building luxury multifamily buildings,” Dunton said. “I thought, gosh, if we could apply that same approach that has been successful for us in the luxury apartment [industry] to the senior housing world, I think we could do something special.”
Not only could Bonaventure compete with the current crop of senior housing communities, it could also do better than them, Dunton thought. And the company has spent the past two decades studying markets throughout the Mid-Atlantic for multifamily development, meaning it’s well-positioned to find new sites and sub-markets for senior housing development, too.
“We’ve been building elevatored apartment communities with a lot of amenity spaces for years,” Dunton said. “So, that was an easy thing for us to build off of.”
An aging baby boomer population in the U.S., coupled with a general lack of high-end choices for seniors, made moving into the senior living industry the right move, Dunton added.
And with its own general contractor called Bonaventure Construction and a close partnership with Liberty, Missouri-based design firm J. Price Architecture, Bonaventure is poised to be flexible and efficient in the markets where it operates, he explained.
Looking ahead, Bonaventure will continue to target markets in the Mid-Atlantic, with each Aspire project serving as a prototype for the next one. Markets where the firm is looking to expand its apartment real estate holdings, such as Nashville, Atlanta and Baltimore, also present natural targets for senior living development.
The company is funding its development push with internal capital, and is further helping the process along by striking joint ventures with land owners.
‘We will definitely continue to develop senior housing,’ Dunton said. ‘In the coming years, there’s really no limit based on what great opportunities we can discover.'”