20/05/2020 - 10:34

Progress on seniors living projects

20/05/2020 - 10:34

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Aged care and retirement living service providers are pushing ahead with property developments, but say COVID-19 could have a lasting impact on the sector.

Progress on seniors living projects
Hall & Prior’s $90 million aged care project Karingal Green was designed by Hassel and built by Broad Construction. Photo: Fabrizio Lipari

Aged care and retirement living service providers are pushing ahead with property developments, but say COVID-19 could have a lasting impact on the sector.

Aged care and retirement living service providers spoken to by Business News say any community concerns over COVID-19 outbreaks within the sector have not been reflected in reduced demand.

Hall & Prior added to its $500 million portfolio with the opening of a $90 million, 160-bed residential aged care home, Karingal Green, in High Wycombe earlier this month.

The family-owned aged care organisation said it had already started a staged residential intake at the new facility, following more than 200 enquiries.

Karingal Green follows the completion of the 124-room SwanCare Ningana residential aged care facility in Bentley last month.

Both developments come at a time when providers face some uncertainty in the wake of stringent social distancing and lockdown measures.

However, Hall & Prior director Graeme Prior has weathered a lot of storms during his more than 30 years in the industry, and says coronavirus is just the latest challenge to overcome.

“Providing safe, clinical care to vulnerable Australians is more important now than ever before,” Mr Prior told Business News.

“COVID-19 has really marked the sector, there’s no doubt about that. It’s a permanent mark that’s had a significant impact already and will change the sector for good.”

Mr Prior pointed to the increase in infection management and control standards, and requirements for more immunisation put forward by state and federal governments as among the pandemic’s lasting influences.

Demand for Hall & Prior’s services increased during March and April, but Mr Prior said it was still too early to tell how it would affect property investment in the long run.

For now, Mr Prior said the organisation was still moving ahead with its two additional property developments: a 120-bed residential care home in Sydney, and Karingal Green’s ‘sister’ in Kelmscott, anticipated to go to tender in late 2020.

Graeme Prior hopes to go to tender with Hall & Prior’s Kelmscott development later this year. Photo: ShotByThom

Western Australian service provider Bethanie is also continuing to progress its property investment, recently completing a $7 million renovation and refurbishment to the Bethanie Warwick Retirement Village apartments.

Additionally, the organisation’s $8.6 million Bethanie Esprit Retirement Village, which comprises 34 cottages, is under way, with the first owners due to move in next month.

A Bethanie spokesperson told Business News there had been an increase in enquiries for its retirement villages over the past few weeks.

Integrated property and construction group Pindan has recently completed construction on the $60 million seven-storey MYVISTA Mirrabooka project, loacted on the corner of Mirrabooka Avenue and Reid Highway. 

The facility features 112 residential aged care places as well as 45 retirement living apartments and is set to open its doors this month. 

Pipeline

More than $80 million worth of proposed aged care and retirement living projects are awaiting approval from development and assessment panels across the state.

This includes a proposal for a 144-bed residential aged care facility with an additional 36-bed dementia wing, in Bunbury.

Victoria-based Signature Care, a federal Department of Health-approved provider that conducts location and demand feasibility through to full commissioning and operations, has lodged the application.

Signature Care has delivered more than 3,000 operational aged care beds to date, according to its website, providing homes for operators including Bupa Aged Care Australia, Opal Aged Care, and the Royal Freemasons across NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT.

The Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel (DAP) has recommended the project for approval when the Regional DAP meets (Monday May 18).

Business News reached out to Signature Care for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Meanwhile Brightwater Care Group told Business News last week that its pandemic response had included temporarily shelving plans for redeveloping a corporate office and developing another residential aged care site. 

Brightwater CEO Jennifer Lawrence said that there was a real "danger or threat" that the group would not be able to launch those projects early enough.

"Therefore we might run behind and we are already talking now about reigniting our strategy and pushing ahead with those projects," Ms Lawrence said. 

Seniors living projects currently under construction include Curtin Heritage Living’s $130 million aged care and apartments complex on the site of the existing Wearne Cottesloe facility, located on Marine Parade south of Cottesloe Beach.

Work has begun on Curtin Heritage Living’s $130 million Cottesloe project. Image: Grounds Kent architects and SPH Architecture + Interiors

The development comprises a residential care facility with 128 suites, 20 residences in a retirement living building, 55 apartments, a medical centre, restaurant/cafe, an art gallery and community arts collective.

The initial design work was done by Grounds Kent architects and SPH Architecture + Interiors.

Curtin Heritage Living selected national operator Built to construct stage one, with Hames Sharley since named lead architect for design and construction.

Hames Sharley associate director and seniors living leader, Gary Mackintosh, said COVID-19 had yet to affect sales, with the operator already starting to sell retirement living units.

He said one thing COVID-19 had brought to the fore was design, with lockdown restrictions highlighting the need to balance infection with social connection.

“How that is developing and changing our design philosophies is really steering us on a track we were already heading – trying to give smaller clusters of rooms for aged care more of a homely feel than a hospital ward,” Mr Mackintosh told Business News.

Mr Mackintosh said the team would draw on its experience in residential and hotel developments for the Curtin Heritage Living project.

High levels of care would always be in demand, he said, but tastes were changing, with baby boomers typically seeking more retirement living options.

“People will always need to have a facility like this and it’s just going to be a matter of managing infection control even better in the future,” he said.

“It’s all about getting the right product in the right spot.”

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