Advancements in science and healthcare are allowing people to live longer, healthier lives than ever before. This is great on the individual level, but it does present an interesting challenge for the population as a whole.
According to the United Nations, one in six people will be over the age of 65 by 2050, an increase from one in eleven in 2019. Even today, the youngest of the Baby Boomer generation (those born after World War II until the 60s) are approaching average ages of 70+. This trend toward an aging global population has led to a historically high need for senior care, particularly when it comes to senior housing.
In this article, we’ll dig into how hotels can help address space needs for the aging Baby Boomers by taking a look at:
- The aging population problem
- How hotel transformations could help solve senior living needs
- Pros and cons of converting hotels to senior living
The Aging Population Problem
The aging population problem is not a complicated issue in and of itself (we all know people get older over time), but the challenges it poses for senior housing can be difficult to address.
First, let’s take a look at the demand side of the equation. A 2019 study conducted by ING estimated demand for senior housing in the EU would increase by 5.5% per year until 2030. While it’s great that this increase in demand means our elderly are living longer and have the financial means to afford housing in their later years, a constant increase in demand such as this can be difficult to manage.
This increase in demand also highlights the primary problem the senior housing market is faced with – supply. Existing senior living options can only absorb so much of this increased demand, and new construction continues to lag behind. In essence, the aging population problem is turning into a housing supply problem.
Luckily, investors are already finding ways to address this lack of supply.
How Hotel Transformations Could Help Solve Senior Living Needs
One method investors are weighing as a potential solution to the lack of supply in the senior housing market is transforming hotels into senior living resorts. While it might sound like an odd idea at first, the more you dig in the more it makes sense.
The hotel industry in Europe, like everywhere else in the world, was hit hard at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and has continued to be impacted by the war in Ukraine and rising inflation. Although many hotels have started to rebound and the hotel industry as a whole is on an upward trend, these challenging hurdles have highlighted that some hotel properties may not be the highest and best use for their location. These properties, though they may no longer be viable options for hotel investment, offer an interesting opportunity for senior housing.
Hotel conversions make sense for senior living spaces because many of them already offer the same amenities and accessibilities that senior housing typically offers. Many hotels are already accommodating to people with limited mobility, have kitchens capable of cooking for large groups at once, and have shared common areas that can be used for group activities. Hotels are also frequently located near hospitals, along primary roads and offer ample parking for visitors.
Although not every hotel is a viable option for a transformation into senior living, they do present a unique opportunity for investors who are willing to undergo the due diligence necessary for a profitable investment. Converting hotels into senior housing provides a viable alternative to ground-up development that may be more profitable (or carry lower risk) under the right circumstances.
Pros and Cons of Converting Hotels to Senior Living
As with any adaptive reuse project, there are a number of pros and cons would-be investors should consider prior to undergoing an extensive renovation on an existing property. We have highlighted some of the primary pros and cons of converting a hotel to senior living below.
If stability is an investor’s goal, senior housing is tough to beat. In contrast to the hotel industry, which ebbs and flows throughout the year and is influenced by external events, the senior housing industry is relatively stable. As the number of elderly people in the population continues to grow, this stability will likely increase.
Another benefit of undergoing a repurposing of hotel space into a senior housing project is that it will likely be cheaper and faster than ground-up development. Whereas ground-up development requires infrastructure to be established and walls to be erected, a conversion project gives investors the opportunity to improve upon what is already existing. Instead of building an entirely new property, investors can renovate an existing one and have it up and running in a shorter time.
Lastly, converting a hotel into senior living can also have a positive impact on the community it is located in. A struggling hotel that is not the highest and best use for the location is less beneficial than a senior housing project that can provide a much-needed service to the local population. A hotel conversion will also likely increase the property’s assessed value, providing more tax revenue to local municipalities.
While there are a lot of upsides to transforming a hotel into senior housing, there are some downsides as well.
For starters, this type of conversion project can present numerous physical challenges. Since the project is restricted to the confines of an existing building, many alterations are simply not possible. Widening hallways for wheelchairs, reconfiguring room layouts and relocating amenities and common areas will all be challenging (if not impossible) changes to make. Conversion projects also have a tendency to uncover unseen issues with the property, leading to unexpected expenses for the investor. This is why it is key for investors to thoroughly vet hotel properties prior to starting a conversion project to confirm that the property fulfills the requirements for an easy and economic transformation.
Another downside of converting a hotel into senior housing is having to deal with a zoning change. Depending on the location and municipality, changing a property’s zoning can be a lengthy and complicated process. Pursuing a zoning change after the property has been purchased also adds another layer of risk to the project, as the request could be denied.
While it may not technically be a risk, a major drawback of this type of project is that it may be hard to find a spot and to place a value on the end product. Due to the likelihood that there will be few comparable conversion projects in any given area, investors, banks and future prospective buyers alike could have difficulty agreeing on the property’s value. This is where the expertise and insight of Titans RE can be especially beneficial.
The information provided above should give you a better understanding of how hotels can be used as a way to address the growing need for senior housing. While not every property will be an option and not every investor will wish to tackle such a project, transforming hotels into senior living is a viable strategy.
If you’d like to learn more about adaptive reuse opportunities for hotels, Titans RE experienced team would be happy to assist.