Senior housing site selection blog

Hello everyone in senior housing land, this is the first blog I have ever participated in and I hope to hear from many of my colleagues, competitors, future clients, zoning officials, lawyers, planners, investors, financiers, and everyone else involved in this senior housing field.

My background includes putting a couple of “little” companies on the map: four Del Webb active adult communities for Pulte Homes—now America’s largest home builder—in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. I’ve also helped some 30 closings to date for Sunrise Senior Living during their heyday, from Dallas to Boston to Boynton Beach and back to New Jersey and New York, as well as CCRC and other developments for several other senior housing clients. If I may say so, I know a little about senior housing site selection. In other words, from time to time, people actually listen to my advice!

I am actively involved in real estate brokerage and senior housing development. I am doing a low income assisted living facility in Miami Gardens, a high end CCRC in Boca Raton and West Orange, New Jersey, and Westchester County, New York, as well as doing other deals in various places … which makes me wonder, with all of this activity, how come my bank account is so low?

Click here to view one of my aerial maps of great sites for senior housing in Orlando.

This blog started when Tony Mullen of the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry (NIC) suggested that Long Term Living would be a good forum in which to write an article about why I, unlike anyone else in either the care business or the active adult/homebuilder business, thought that Orlando should become the next great concentration of seniors—you know, another Sun City, another Miami, another St. Pete, etc., for various reasons that I will go into with future postings. The Long Term Living people thought that a senior housing site selection blog would be a good forum and here we are.

As I am new to this thing, here is what I wrote about Orlando originally to the Long Term Living editors:

I want to write about why Orlando should become the next big active adult and older destination just like Phoenix, West Palm, Tampa, Miami, etc., and to say the least, I am not getting any traction from those in neither the active adult business (I founded Florida’s only NAHB Senior Housing Council chapter), nor the care business.

Orlando has the attributes that make it what I call the greatest city in the world. From Mickey Mouse to Shamu, it is where people have been vacationing for the last 40 years. It is my bet that right now, Orlando is where their children and grandchildren will want live. It has the best convention center in America, the best shopping, the best restaurants, the best golf, the best entertainment, the best access via air or rail or road, terrific weather, access to oceans (who needs it with Blizzard Beach?), a terrific job market for seniors for both full- and part-time positions, and every other kind of feature and facility that well developed communities would kill to have.

Available dirt is abundant. One site in particular that is my favorite will have a balcony view to the left of the Disney fireworks, to the right is Universal Studios, and to the rear is Seaworld. This site is on a lake that overlooks Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Golf & Country Club, and is two doors down from a hospital to the south and a new Wal-Mart Supercenter to the north, with a brand new Whole Foods just beyond that, with marketing visibility to the Interstate I-4 but not on the highway, on a parcel that has zoning and approval for 1300 condo units and can be stolen from a Wall Street titan that has gone bankrupt. This deal—one of many similar deals—can be stolen.

If you could see some of the sites that I have gotten Del Webb to buy, which many administrators would beg to have, you would begin to sense my frustration in the lack of interest in Orlando.

And that frustration grew when the two market research divas in the senior care market feasibility business, who shall for now remain nameless, both told me, as I was sitting between them at an NAHB Senior Housing Council dinner in Orlando, that “no one will be able to justify a market study for seniors coming from across America to retire in Orlando.” How did Hilton Grand Vacations decide to build the thousands of time share units in high rise buildings right next door? It just doesn’t figure. Hence this blog is my new forum and I would love to hear from you out there in senior housing land. Please e-mail me at my contact information below and look forward to my future blogs about selecting sites for senior housing, and also the occasional argument that Orlando is the best destination for senior living.

James L. Kraft, Esq., is a senior housing site selection expert for national home builders and senior care providers in top, high barrier-to-entry locations. He has helped with thousands of units delivered to date and has a keen eye toward satisfying future demand. He can be reached at

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