A few decades ago, baby boomers flocked to Fountain Valley to raise their own babies. And and then stayed. Today, almost half of the city’s population is over the age of 44. Eighteen percent of its residents have celebrated their 65th birthday.
In short, Fountain Valley makes an obvious spot for four assisted living developments and another one on its way. “I’m headed that direction myself,” Mayor Steve Nagel, 66, said with a laugh. “We have an older community and can always use places designed for seniors.” Park View Estates, a $50 million assisted living and memory care community, is set to open next to Fountain Valley Regional Hospital in mid-2020. It is the first Orange County location for Oregon-based Sunshine Retirement Living. The decade-old company has 21 retirement communities in 10 states and another 18 in the works. For $7 million, Sunshine nabbed one of the last empty parcels in the area. The 3.9 acres at 11360 Warner Ave. sat empty after a high-density and affordable housing project planned there fell through in 2014. “It’s rare that a piece of land becomes available in such a built-out city,” Nagel said.
Built in a Spanish Colonial Revival design, Park View will feature 145 units ranging in size from studio to two-bedroom. Of that total, the memory care facility – for residents with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related diseases – will offer 44 suites and studios. Amenities will include a fitness center, library, computer room, chapel, arts studio, theater, beauty salon and all meals.Sunshine Retirement Living CEO Luis Serrano said the company “caters to the middle class.”
“We are not high-luxury,” he said. “We provide great but affordable care.” For an assisted living apartment, prices will start at $3,900 per month, which covers meals. For that reason, Serrano added, Fountain Valley was the “ideal location” to make a debut here. “Not only is it in the heart of Orange County and right next to a hospital, the land was affordable,” he said. “We couldn’t have done this in Newport Beach.” Assisted living development is a “growth industry” that will only continue growing, Serrano said. “Most people move into retirement communities in their 80s, and baby boomers haven’t gotten there yet,” he said. “We will start to see that wave in the next 10 years. Assisted living communities will be critical to cities and states.” Also, he said, assisted living developments have become more popular with families of all ethnicities. “Twenty years ago, the residents were mostly white, but now they are more diverse,” Serrano said. “The way adult children care for elderly parents is changing for everyone.”
Hoping for “wind in their sails,” Serrano said, “a lot of companies have tried to jump into the assisted living business – but many fail because they don’t understand its heart and soul. “It’s so much more complex than just putting up a building,” he said. “It’s about human beings taking care of other human beings.”