The Austin-Round Rock metro area touts the nation's fastest-growing pre-senior population—residents ages 55 to 64—said Karen Huber, a former Precinct 3 Travis County Commissioner, during the Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce's economic forecast luncheon in July 2012.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age for residents in the Westlake area ZIP code of 78733, rising from 35.1 in 2000 to 39.7 in 2010. During this time, the population of pre-seniors in 78733 climbed from 5 percent of the population to 14 percent, with its over-65 senior population more than doubling from 2.6 percent to 5.3 percent.
As a result, developers of assisted-living and memory-care community centers have converged on western Travis County.
"Lake Travis has been a retirement destination for decades," said Laura Mitchell, Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce president. "It's no surprise we will continue to see the [population] grow in the area, especially with the aging baby boomers."
Lakeway City Manager Steve Jones said more assisted-living facilities are interested in coming to the area.
"We're becoming a little leery of overbuilding assisted-living facilities," he said. "We already have two in Lakeway, another large one being built and another proposed. The problem is having them overbuilt and not being able to use them for that intended purpose."
Jud Wyatt, founder of Grace Senior Services, which owns Bee Cave's Grace House of Lake Travis, said that even though developers may be overbuilding assisted-living centers in western Travis County in the near future, growth projections illustrate a long-term need for such facilities.
"We'll probably have a little bit of glut [in assisted-living facilities] short-term," Wyatt said. "Demographics show we are moving to a long-term need for the projects but an oversupply [for the] short-term."
Patricia Will, founder of Belmont Village Senior Living, currently under construction in West Lake Hills, said she feels the Austin market is underserved compared with other markets.
"Much of the supply in Austin is for independent living, and there is high-quality availability for both rent and sale," she said. "There is far less supply in the market when it comes to memory-care and assisted-living, which includes things such as medication management."
DeNucci Constructors LLC founder Paul DeNucci chose Lakeway as the site for The Harbor at Lakeway, a 150-unit assisted-living and memory-care facility. He said although he remembers when the town was just a "sleepy golf community," the city's boom in family growth factored into his site selection for the project.
"It's not just the seniors who live here right now—it's the families who want their parents to live closer to them," DeNucci said. "We feel [the area] is ready for this type of community."
Silverado and Park Manor
Silverado Senior Care Developers, Meridian Realty Advisors and Walters Southwest staffers broke ground Aug. 14 on two new buildings geared toward western Travis County's aging population—a memory-care community and a skilled nursing facility.
Meridian Realty Advisors is working on both projects, with Silverado developing the memory-care building next door to Walters Southwest's assisted-living facility.
A third building, set to house day care facility Bright Horizons, is planned for the front of the site, said Walters Southwest CEO Bill Walters, a partner in the project.
Walters said he plans to pattern the Bee Cave site after his previous developments—Onion Creek and Double Creek Village, both in Austin—which have memory-care and skilled nursing facilities.
The Bee Cave site was chosen for the project because of the area's growing population, aging demographics and the lack of facilities of this type, Walters said.
Silverado Memory Care Community will house up to 90 residents with memory impairments, and Park Manor of Bee Cave will be available to short-term or long-term residents.
"The primary target market for each of our communities is a 10-mile radius around the physical location, and our Bee Cave community will be no different," Silverado CEO and Chairman Loren B. Shook said. "The [new Bee Cave and older Onion Creek sites] are close enough to make great sister locations and far enough away for us to serve a different population."
Shook said the project was on track to open by mid-summer.
The Park at Bee Cave
The Park at Bee Cave's 5-acre assisted- living community is slated to be built on a larger, 16.8-acre mixed-use site, said Walters, its developer. The project, a concept plan pending before Bee Cave City Council, would consist of 140 units and be similar in scope to West Lake Hills' Belmont Village, he said.
Walters said the project is set to be managed and owned by Denver's Spectrum Retirement Communities LLC and may begin construction as early as this year's second quarter.
"I believe there is a demand for all of the [various types] of senior living [in the area]," he said.
The Harbor at Lakeway
The Harbor at Lakeway, under construction on Lakeway Medical Village's 65.9-acre campus, will have two sites focused on senior living—an independent-living community geared toward residents age 55 and older and an assisted-living and memory-care campus.
The independent-living community will have 130 to 150 units with amenities, said Joel Canfield, KGP Holdings vice president, the project's manager. The property came under contract with developer Coastal Rim Properties in mid-December, he said.
The Lakeway Medical Village campus will also include a community featuring 110-assisted living apartments and 40 private studios for Alzheimer's and dementia patients, said DeNucci, the assisted-living and memory-care project's developer. DeNucci's facility will be managed by Loree Tamayo Consulting and will begin preleasing rooms in February for a summer opening, he said.
He said that proximity to the Lakeway Regional Medical Center for emergency care was a nice amenity for the site.
"We like the synergy of the medical campus in relation to the regional hospital," DeNucci said.
Administrative Director Terria Jones said The Harbor will also provide hospice care to allow residents to "age in place," without requiring their families to move them to another facility as they become more dependent on care.
DeNucci said he plans to begin preleasing rooms in February for a summer opening.
Grace House Services
On Nov. 18, Legend Communities owner Jim Lavender withdrew his application to Lakeway City Council for a 16-bed, 9,500-square-foot proposed memory-care facility that would have been developed by Grace Senior Services Inc.
Several Lakeway residents spoke against the build during the council's October meeting, citing traffic and other concerns because of the project's close proximity to a neighborhood elementary school.
Wyatt said although the city would not accommodate what he needed to build the project, he will look for another site in western Travis County.
Grace Senior Services Inc. owns Grace House of Lake Travis, a freestanding assisted-living community in Bee Cave. Wyatt said the community has remained 98 to 99 percent leased for the past 3 years, including 2013.
Belmont Village Senior Living
Patricia Will founded Belmont Village Senior Living in 1997. The West Lake Hills location, 4310 Bee Caves Road, is the 23rd location in a seven-state area.
The facility, which will offer assisted living and memory care, will use 5 of the 13 acres, and the three-story building features 141 private rooms, Will said.
Will said Belmont Village plans to open in this year's second quarter, and she is not opposed to expanding to new locations in the future.
"We are very cautious when it comes to new locations," she said. "We look at how much supply is required over time, but certainly the growth and thriving economy of Austin is taken into consideration. We certainly see Austin as a market where we could experience growth."
A councilman struggles with aging parents
"It's been quite a journey," said Steve Braasch, Bee Cave Mayor pro tem, of his family's decision to move his parents into a local assisted-living facility in April. "We became the parents, and they became the children."
Braasch's mother underwent a hip replacement in 2012. After surgery, she did not fully regain her mental capabilities, he said. A couple of years earlier, his father had heart surgery, and, he, too, was never the same, Braasch said.
Braasch and his brother, who lives in the Austin area, organized in-home care for their parents, residents of Tyler, he said. However, Braasch said that after a pattern of receiving early-morning phone calls canceling assistants for their frail parents, the brothers were faced with only two options, both expensive —buy their parents a home in Austin and provide 24-hour care, or put them in an assisted-living facility. The family chose the latter option, and Braasch said his parents' facility is amazing.
"[The move] has been a massive weight off my shoulders," he said. "It's a grieving process. You're losing [your loved ones] a little piece at a time, but you're clearly losing them."