Evaluate the feasibility of retrofitting U.S. indoor malls into senior living facilities.

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Evaluate the feasibility of retrofitting U.S. indoor malls into senior living facilities.

The Cony Flatiron Senior Residence center, Skyview on the Ridge Senior Housing, and the Town Hall Apartments are three case studies of hybrid facilities in the U.S. that provide living communities for seniors and make use of retrofitted buildings which previously served other purposes. These retrofittings include a high school, a mall, and a police station.

1: Cony Flatiron Senior Residence

Facility Overview:

  • Description: Cony Flatiron Senior Residence is located in Augusta, Maine and was retrofitted from a historical high school building into a luxurious and affordable senior apartment community. The apartment is for those 55+.
  • Amenities: The community features gardens and common areas, including the school's original auditorium, which was fully restored as part of the retrofitting. There is an elevator, community laundry facilities and community recreation facilities and on-site library featuring relics of the old high school. The community is non-smoking, both inside and out. The community is close to shopping centers and restaurants and the city's marketplace, farmer's market, library, and nature parks. Accessible transportation is available.
  • Unit Figure: 48 apartments.
  • Pricing: 1 bedroom is $567-682 per month, 2 bedroom is $675-$815 per month.

Facility Transformation:

  • The Cony Flatiron building in Maine was originally founded as Cony High School in the late 1920s. The school closed its doors in 2006.
  • Between 2006 and 2013 the property was used as a heated storage space for the city.
  • "In 2013, Housing Initiatives of New England proposed a project transforming the facility into housing units for senior citizens, utilizing Maine State Housing Authority tax credits and several grants."
  • The former classrooms were transformed into spacious apartments with high ceilings. The original hardwood floors in the classrooms were expertly polished.
  • Windows were added (where windows had originally been but were bricked over) in order to give more light to large common spaces.
  • The width of the original hallways, the entrance stairway, skylights, and various energy-efficient provisions were preserved.
  • A new entrance was added to the back of the building.
  • The project took 60-75 construction workers along with additional subcontractors and cost $11 million. It was "financed with help from state and federal historic preservation tax credits and subsidies from Maine State Housing," along with "initial financing from Bank of America," funding from the city, and the forgoing of all property taxes for 30 years via a TIF agreement.
  • Photos of the retrofitting in progress can be found here.

Media Articles:

  • Bangor Daily News wrote an article about the school's transformation, as well as the transformation of another old school nearby, into senior living quarters. The article includes interviews from the project manager and various details about the retrofitting. The article can be found here.
  • NDC50 wrote an article about the results of the retrofitting and includes more in-depth details about how it was done.

2: Skyview on the Ridge Senior Housing

Facility Overview:

  • Description: Skyview on the Ridge, a former shopping mall in upstate New York, is currently being retrofitted as a senior housing and care facility.
  • Amenities: Adult day care center, community center, open courtyards, natural lighting and ventilation. One or two bedroom units, designed to be small to encourage residents to get out into the common areas and socialize. Various lobbies, sitting areas, and a resident community room. Home health services.
  • Unit Figure: 157 senior apartment units.
  • Pricing: Not yet announced.

Facility Transformation:

  • The senior apartment complex will make use of a former Sears department store, and the developers will build an adjacent building that will be connected via a skywalk.
  • The apartment complex will take up one anchor of the former mall, while the community center and adult day care center will make up the other anchors. The store spaces in between the anchors will be rented out to various retailers, service providers, and companies.
  • The project is expected to take two years to complete and will begin in Summer 2020.
  • Visuals of some plans can be found here.
  • A visual of the proposed apartment addition and sky walk can be found here.

Media Articles:

  • This article was published by Senior Housing News and provides various details about the plans for the project.
  • An article published by USA Today's Democrat & Chronicle goes into detail about the senior apartment complex addition.
  • An article published in January 2020 by WHAM (a local news station) talks about breaking ground on the project.

3: Town Hall Apartments

Facility Overview:

  • Description: The Town Hall historic police station located in Chicago was converted into an LGBTQ-friendly senior community. The police station was decommissioned in 2009. The new apartments opened in 2014. The community allows those aged 55 and over.
  • Amenities: LEED Silver certification, hot lunches, social activities, employment training, health evaluations, senior center, computer lab, fitness room, multipurpose room physical therapy room, and a family/communal dining room and kitchen.
  • Unit Figure: 79 apartment units. (30 studio apartments and 49 one-bedroom apartments).
  • Pricing: Rent pricing is not available, likely because it is income based/subsidized.

Facility Transformation:

  • The historic police station was retrofitted and a six-story apartment tower was also added.
  • Repairs of the copper cornices and opening-up of bricked over windows was some refurbishments made on the site.
  • An interior ceiling made of pressed tin was restored and high-efficiency heating, a green roof, LEED certified paints and sealants were all added to as part of the retro fitting. Building materials were sourced locally and regionally.
  • The building is close to various neighborhood amenities, bus routes, and the Chicago "L".
  • The total cost of the development was around $23.7 million. "The project received federal low-income housing tax credits; affordable housing tax credits from the state of Illinois; and funding from the city of Chicago, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Illinois Department of Human Services, the National Equity Fund, Enterprise Community Partners, Citi Community Capital, BMO Harris Bank, and the Chicago Local Initiatives Support Corporation. The city donated the building and land, and the Chicago Housing Authority provided project-based vouchers for all the units, restricting rents to 30 percent of the residents’ income."
  • This video shows the inside of one of the apartments.
  • Another clip shows various interiors of the building.

Media Articles:

  • This short article about the project contains various images of the apartment building.
  • An article published by DNAinfo discusses the building as "Chicago's first LGBTQ Senior Housing Complex."
  • An article published by the 44th Ward of Chicago discusses the project as it was in progress.

Facility Reviews:

  • An interview with one resident said that this community is a positive thing because many LGBTQ seniors don't have any children and were outcasted from their families during their younger years. He also said he never lived in subsidized housing before but his understanding of the standards of subsidized housing has been raised since moving to the apartment.
  • Another resident interviewed about their experience living in Town Hall. He said that he wished all the new residents moving in were properly educated about the atmosphere and purpose of the community before moving in. He also says the people living there are a functioning community, where they do projects together and know each other by name.

Research Strategy

To conduct this research, our team began by attempting to look for any published media articles about malls being retrofitted into senior housing from the past 20 years. However, we were unable to locate any completed projects that match this description, so we included one project that is in process and focused the other two projects on completed retrofittings of other types of buildings. Some information could not be located during this research. This includes no reviews for Cony Flatiron Senior Living or Skyview on the Ridge. Skyview is an incomplete project, therefore no reviews (nor pricing) exist. Cony Flatiron Senior Living doesn't appear to have any of the residents posting reviews publicly as none were found via Google Reviews, Yelp, YouTube, social media sites, nor via apartment rental databases. Lastly, no rental price for Town Hall was found, as any locations where a price may exist says to contact the development for pricing. It has been assumed this is because the apartment is subsidized and rent may therefore be based on income.

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