Several senior housing and care facility projects are in the works for Bellevue with two already under construction.
Additional senior housing will become more important in coming decades as Bellevue’s Baby Boomer population continues to age, said Bellevue public information officer Christina Faine. By 2030, every Baby Boomer in the U.S. will be older than 65 and by 2035 the federal Census Bureau projects that older adults will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history.
Faine said that according to the 2015 American Community Survey more than 18 percent of King County residents are 60 years of age or older, but by 2040 this will grow to 25 percent of the population. The Eastside saw a 28 percent growth in adults 60 years of age or older from 2000 to 2013. In Bellevue in particular, 14 percent of residents are older than 65.
The first project, already under construction, is Aegis at Overlake. It is located at 1835 116th Ave NE and will house an assisted living and memory care facility about 146,500 square feet in size. It will provide 118 housing units with lobby and eating areas in the six story building. The project sits on a 1.3 acre plot.
The plan was submitted by Aegis Living, which builds and runs senior housing projects in Washington, California and Nevada. Aegis Living at Overlake will provide senior housing with assisted living units and a memory care facility for seniors with dementia. It is scheduled to open during the summer of 2020.
Crossroads Senior Living is similarly under construction in Bellevue at 1390 158th Place NE. It will be a six-story mixed-use building with 185 apartments for seniors along with commercial space and a parking garage. The development is a project of the Senior Housing Assistance Group (SHAG). The developers previously told the Reporter that it will have have units available to residents making less than 50 percent of the area’s median income or less.
SHAG executive director Jay Woolford said they are marketing many of their units toward lower-income residents to help meet an unmet need and demand for senior housing that isn’t exclusive to the wealthiest Eastside residents. While affluent seniors can often afford to live in private senior housing, and very low income seniors can qualify for government assistance, those just above the poverty line are often left with few housing options. A 2010 King County study found that in order to keep pace with demand, about 900 senior housing units would need to be constructed every year, a goal which has not been met.
“Everybody’s been talking about this silver tsunami, or the this age wave coming, but the fact of the matter is we’re moving up that slope pretty rapidly right now,” Woolford said.
About one in five seniors are living only on Social Security, which is far lower than what is needed to afford market housing for anyone, seniors included. Many seniors are spending at least 50 percent of their income on housing, leaving them severely cost-burdened.
“Senior housing predominantly has focused on the most affluent demographic — I mean, we talk about really a lot of the folks that are doing private pay assisted living or private pay independent living are really catering to the top 3 to 5 percent, so the struggle is, and the industry as a whole is really struggling to find how do we serve a middle income market,” Woolford said.
While SHAG is focusing on providing affordable housing, other projects are making their way through the city’s permitting process, including a seven story assisted living and memory care facility called the Holden of Bellevue at 121 112th Ave. NE. The Holden development group is hoping to break ground on construction during late summer or fall of 2019 with a completion date in early 2021. It is expected to hold 136 units and total about 140,000 square feet. All the units would be priced at market-rate.
RJ Development is planning a senior housing project at 2120 116th Ave. NE. It will include two buildings with a total of 140 units and a combined total of 127,866 square feet. The first building will have two stories of care units over one level of open-air parking, and the second will be five stories of care units over a level of parking. No low-income affordable units would be provided. The Silverado development is also under permitting review and would create a two-story assisted living memory care building at 14641 SE 16th St.
With the local real estate market breaking cost records in Puget Sound over the past decade, Woolford said cities and the county can help ease the cost of developing senior housing by making surplus land available for developers who build affordable housing.
“We’re in a super-heated real estate market right now, so the cost of construction has been going up and that makes it harder also,” he said.
On top of providing only housing, these housing centers provide other services for seniors, including transportation. Faine said houses headed by older adults in Bellevue are less likely to own a vehicle. About 8 percent of people older than 65 said they did not have a vehicle for any number of reasons including failing health or eyesight. That can limit mobility for many seniors.