Though Austin typically appeals to its growing young professional population with festivals and urban housing, some companies are looking at the other end of the age spectrum to address another growing market.

By the end of this year, there is expected to be at least three large senior livi ng facilities that were built in the past 12 months open in South and Southwest Austin with amenities including community living rooms, salons and outdoor gardens.

In November, Ledgestone Senior Living by Civitas Senior Living will open on Hwy. 290, near the Belterra and Ledgestone housing subdivisions, offering independent living, assisted living and memory care services.

Farther south near Circle C Ranch, Autumn Leaves memory care facility is set to open this fall at the Waterleaf Medical Center Complex on Davis Lane near the Loop 1 overpass.

Last January, Village on the Park Onion Creek by Retirement Center Management opened near FM 1626 and I-35 near the Travis County and Hays County line, offering 124 independent or assisted living apartment rooms for rent.

Brandon Erickson, executive director of Legacy Oaks, said the “name of the game” for senior living for years was skilled nursing facilities, or nursing homes. But nursing homes do not afford the amenities of assisted living settings, he added.

“I think assisted living is the place to be for seniors,” Erickson said. “As new places come online, they are built [to be] beautiful, inviting and warm. We are in a position where we can now care for those seniors and give them a lot of great options.”

The new facilities, along with pre-existing ones such as Silverado Onion Creek and Elmcroft Senior Living of Austin, address the growing senior population  age 65 and older in the city of Austin, which increased to 63,420 in 2014, or by more than 10,000 from 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“[Nationwide,] Austin is the metropolitan area with the fastest-growing population of people aged 55-64, and we have the second fastest-growing population of people over 65,” said Janee Briesemeister, chairwoman of the city of Austin Commission on Seniors, an advisory board to Austin City Council tasked with improving seniors’ quality of life.

Additionally, most ZIP codes that make up the Community Impact Newspaper Southwest Austin distribution market—78735, 78736, 78748 and 78749—had at least 2,000 residents who were 65 or older in 2012, according to city of Austin data. The 78745 ZIP code had more than 4,000 residents older than 65 in 2012.Only seven other ZIP codes in Greater Austin had the same senior population numbers.

“If you’re looking in from the outside, you may think that the senior living industry is being oversaturated,” said Branson Patterson, Village on the Park Onion Creek executive director. “However, I believe in five to 10 years we’re not going to have enough [senior living facilities] just because of the growth.”

City of Austin Demographer Ryan Robinson said the share of Austin’s total population of seniors will increase from 8 percent to 20 percent within 25 years.

“We feel that Austin has become an emerging destination for retirees as the calculus of what it means to retire continues to change,” Robinson said. “Retirees of the future will increasingly be interested in ‘staying in the game,’ so to speak, and will be more attracted to places like Austin than they have been in the past.”

Senior living industry continues South Austin expansionSenior care near family

Both Village on the Park Onion Creek and Ledgestone are placed nearby homes.

Patterson said Village on the Park Onion Creek is the only independent living facility in its vicinity; next to a memory care facility and nursing home on the same street; and close to Buda, Kyle and South Austin families.

“With the population growth in the Buda and Kyle area, and of course Austin as well, there is a need for independent living and traditional assisted living right off the I-35 corridor,” Patterson said. “Some families also live in San Antonio, so it’s an easy way to see mom and dad if they need to.”

Legacy Oaks assisted living and memory care on Hwy. 290 west of the Hwy. 71 intersection and Ledgestone Senior Living are near the master-planned community of Belterra and Hill Country city Dripping Springs, areas where families may have homes but also may want their aging parents to live in senior living facilities.

“If you look at the growth of the city and how Southwest Austin is exploding with the Hwy. 290 corridor from Oak Hill to Dripping Springs, the [Legacy Oaks and Ledgestone] locations make sense,” Erickson said.

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Lifestyle amenities

Village on the Park Onion Creek’s monthly rent covers services such as meals, housekeeping, fitness programs, a salon and 24-hour concierge services.

At Legacy Oaks, residents have amenities such as a movie theater, a hair salon, outdoor garden, cooked meals and internet access.

“You want to have everything the residents want in-house,” Erickson said. “If they can live their day and be independent, go to these settings and have fun, it makes their day great.”

State of Austin seniors

The Austin area is ready for the influx of seniors, Erickson said. He said there are currently enough seniors to support local facilities and vice versa.

Patterson said senior living companies are trying to build facilities ahead of the senior population rush, but he had hesitations about the intent of constructing new facilities if developers with no senior living experience and no knowledge of seniors’ needs are building to invest.

Former Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell created the Task Force on Aging to determine the needs of seniors in the area, Briesemeister said.

The task force recommended the creation of the Commission on Seniors, an advisory board to the City Council.

The commission has heard from seniors that affordable housing, access to transportation options and accessibility services are needed, Briesemeister said.

“As a commission, we’re seeing that Austin needs policies and programs that allow seniors to age in place in their own home,” Briesemeister said. “Or, for those who don’t want to do that and live in a senior community, it’s important to offer a range of price options for them. Luxury condos and apartments won’t serve the needs of low- or middle-income seniors.”