Development responds to aging population in Lake Travis area

As 2010 census data shows an increase in the number of people older than age 64 living in the Lake Travis area, senior care facilities are being planned for Lakeway, West Lake Hills and Bee Cave.

Developers say the facilities will help meet a growing need for senior care in the area. In Texas, western Travis County has the fastest-growing population of people over the age of 64, Travis County Precinct 3 Commissioner Karen Huber said.

Ross Dickman, executive director of Querencia at Barton Creek, an elder care facility located at 2500 Barton Creek Blvd., said he expects the need for elder care facilities to increase as the baby boomer generation gets older.

“It’s like a tsunami; it’s like a tidal wave coming,” he said.

Planned facilities

The tentatively named Harbor at Lakeway is planned for the area next to the Lakeway Regional Medical Center. The 150-unit facility will likely break ground in late fall, project developer Paul DeNucci said.

The Harbor at Lakeway will have 110 assisted-living rooms and a 40-room Alzheimer’s care unit, DeNucci said. The facility will be well-lit, modern and have a therapy pool, Marketing Director Terria Jones said.

“They are going to set the bar high at the Harbor at Lakeway,” she said.

West Lake Hills has approved the master plan for the Belmont Village assisted-living center at the intersection of Buckeye Trail and Bee Caves Road.

The 141-unit facility will have 114 assisted-living rooms and a 27-room Alzheimer’s disease care unit, Chief Investment Officer Margaret Scott said. She said she thinks there is a need for the facility.

“West Lake Hills is a market that we see as being pretty significantly underserved for quality, stand-alone assisted living,” she said.

In Bee Cave, an elder care facility with a separate Alzheimer’s disease and skilled nursing building is planned on a 15-acre site on the northwest corner of Hwy. 71 and

Bee Caves Parkway.

The facility is being planned by Bill Walters, the lead developer of the Sunset Valley Village, a 300-acre master-planned community in Austin, and Meridian Realty Advisors, a Dallas-based real estate investment management and development company.

A 53,000-square-foot, 120-bed skilled nursing building and a 45,000-square-foot, 90-bed Alzheimer’s disease care building are planned for the facility.

The developers hope to have city approval and construction to start by the end of the year, Walters said.

“The services of this type of product are in very high demand,” he said. “That has been proven by the market studies we have done independently as it relates to this specific location.”

From 2000 to 2010, the number of people above the age of 64 in Bee Cave grew from 34 to 239.

Demographic shift

Lakeway City Manager Steve Jones said Lakeway regularly gets inquiries from developers interested in building elder care facilities in the area.

In 2010, 17.9 percent of Lakeway’s population, or 2,042 people, was above the age of 64, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2000, 16.5 percent of the population, or 1,321 people, was age 65 or older.

DeNucci said elder care facility developers also look at how many people in a community are middle-aged and potentially looking for a facility for a parent.

“Lakeway has that demographic,” he said.

Because its population has largely remained flat, the number and percent of people over the age of 64 in West Lake Hills has not risen as dramatically as Lakeway since 2000.

But Claunch said a new elder care facility for West Lake Hills has been a priority for years.

“I think it’s great we will have an amenity in our area where these people can live and remain connected to the community they have lived in for many years but still receive quality care in a fun environment,” he said.

Jobs and economic impact

Laura Mitchell, Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the elder care facilities would bring new jobs to the area.

Belmont Village will create about 120 jobs, the Harbor at Lakeway will create between 75 and 90 jobs, and the Bee Cave facility will create about 80 jobs, developers said.

The jobs include caregivers, waitstaff, activity directors, physical therapists and licensed nurses, Scott said.

“Assisted living is a combination of residential, health and hospitality,” she said. “When you combine those, there is really a great variety of different skill sets that are needed.”

Dickman, whose Querencia at Barton Creek employs about 240 people, said the elder care facilities can result in other jobs outside the facility. He said he has seen an increase in the number of neurological doctors in the area, for instance, as more elder care facilities with Alzheimer’s disease care units are built.

Friendly neighbors

The elder care facilities have been welcomed by neighboring housing and development communities.

The Harbor at Lakeway will work with its neighboring facilities to provide a continuum of care on the LRMC campus, said Joel Canfield of Phin-Ker Ventures LLC, the developer of the LRMC campus.

The campus has plans for an independent living facility and skilled nursing facility.

“There are great synergies among the various planned health care uses on the campus, in addition to the full-scope acute care at the Lakeway Regional Medical Center,” Canfield said. “The health care campus environment creates a unique and inclusive continuum of care, and the Assisted Living and Memory Care facility plays a strong role in this continuum.”

Jones said The Harbor at Lakeway would result in a relatively low increase in traffic to the area, which is a main concern of the city and surrounding area.

Residents of Buckeye Trail, a neighborhood next to the proposed Belmont Village in West Lake Hills, spoke in favor of the facility during a December 2011 City Council meeting.

“I’ve been involved in this property for about 10 years,” Buckeye Trail resident Jonathan Schoolar said during the meeting. “I got involved when retail was proposed and the number for that, as far as traffic, was astronomical, which would have been devastating from a traffic standpoint. The day trips for this project is a fraction of some of the projects we’ve looked at.”

Also, Buckeye Trail residents will be able to connect to the sewer line that Belmont Village is extending to the elder care facility. Scott said Buckeye Trail homes have aging septic systems and that extending the sewer line to the area is a way to give back to the community.

The proposed elder care facility in Bee Cave, which is near the Falconhead West development, is on a piece of land that was previously zoned for commercial use. Falconhead West resident Jim Stanislaus said he was happy with the layout and concept of the proposed development.

“We believe that the ‘senior’ uses are compatible with the neighborhood, and the project is a responsible and appropriate way to continue the inevitable growth of this area,” he said.

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