Every day, around 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65. Nowhere is that demographic shift felt more strongly than in the housing market, as retiring Boomers look to downsize their residences, but upsize their amenities.
“We talk a lot about the importance of aging in place, helping seniors to remain in their homes longer,” said Mark Landis, Chairman of the Washington County HRA Board of Commissioners. “But when seniors do want to relocate – whether it’s because they want additional services or companionship or simply because it makes sense for other reasons – one of our goals is to make sure they have affordable and accessible options in their own communities.”
This was the driving force behind TrailSide Senior Living, a 70-unit community in Forest Lake for residents 55 and older.
Opened in 2011, TrailSide provides an ideal mix of community and privacy, all in a beautiful setting with easy access to transit and recreational trails.
“When coming up with a proposal for a new facility, two questions always come to mind,” says Barbara Dacy, executive director of the HRA. “First, how do we find ways to partner with the private sector and other government agencies to ensure the best value for residents and taxpayers alike? Second, how do we create real communities, where housing, recreation, and services can all support one another?”
To finance Forest Lake, the HRA forged relationships with and pooled resources from a number of local outlets. The City of Forest Lake, Metropolitan Council, and Washington County were all key players in keeping development costs low.
Amassing significant capital funding was critical in helping to meet another goal: serving seniors with very low incomes. One out of five apartments at TrailSide are leased to households earning less than $19,000 annually. Another 60 percent are targeted to those earning less than $30,000 a year.
“For us, return on investment is twofold,” says Dacy.
“We want to make sure that we’re providing a long-term value to taxpayers, which we’ve done here to great success. We’ve put the pieces in place to not only make TrailSide affordable now, but to ensure that it will be affordable into the future.”
“We also wanted to provide a great return on the investment that TrailSide residents are making each month by giving them a great place to live in an engaging environment that keeps them close to their families and grandchildren.”
To that end, TrailSide is within a short walk of the Hardwood Creek Regional Trail, the Hardwood Creek Library, and the Forest Lake Transit Center.
“When you add it all up, our senior units make up almost half of our entire housing portfolio and we’re still exploring new opportunities to meet this growing demand,” says Landis.