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The new senior class: Boomers on campus
'University-linked retirement communities' unite seniors, colleges

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Citing a University of Michigan study, Tsao says many residents "were motivated by the fact that college- and university-linked retirement communities promote an active intergenerational community.

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"They not only enjoy more social involvement, new friendships and higher morale by interacting with residents of their own age, but also have more opportunities to contribute to younger generations."

Origins
Though a few communities were founded in the postwar years, Tsao says the phenomenon took hold in the early 1980s. At that time, some pioneering schools began to develop them to create a supportive intellectual and cultural environment for retired faculty, staff, alumni and other older adults.

The movement took hold. "During the 1990s and the early 2000s, a number of collegiate retirement communities were developed across the country," he says.

The initiatives come from several directions.

In some cases, Tsao says, groups affiliated with a particular school start communities through partnerships with private developers. They're looking for an adult learning and living environment linked to the academic world.

Sometimes the initiative comes from school administrators who have an eye on the bottom line. "Colleges and universities are always seeking ways to effectively develop their property and to expand and diversify sources of revenue," Tsao says. Collegiate communities contribute to this goal by boosting land values and generating revenues from the sale or lease of land and facilities.

"They also provide the potential for income from membership fees," he says, "as well as gifts, donations and bequests from residents."

Developers -- recognizing the potential benefits of association with big-name colleges and universities and eyeing a ready market of alumni and retired faculty and staff -- are also getting in on the act, Tsao says. Typically they form joint ventures with universities to develop retirement communities on or near a campus.

The Kendal Corp., a nonprofit provider of communities and services for older adults based in Pennsylvania, has been building retirement communities on or near campuses for about 35 years.

"At first they were not exclusively college-related," says John Diffey, Kendal president. "But those in the Philadelphia area, for example, naturally drew retirees who had links to Swarthmore College."

By the late 1980s, Diffey says, Kendal began building collegiate retirement communities in conjunction with such institutions as Dartmouth, Oberlin College, Cornell, Ithaca College, Washington and Lee University and others.

The models vary depending on the market, says David Jones, Kendal's project director. Kendal typically operates continuing-care communities, charging a one-time, refundable entry fee and an ongoing monthly fee.

For example, residents in Kendal at Hanover -- a 15-year-old community in Hanover, N.H., with links to Dartmouth College -- pay entry fees of $107,492 to $393,646, plus monthly fees ranging from $2,038 to $4,778. In Kendal at Lexington in Lexington, Va., which is linked to Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University, costs are a bit lower. Entry fees there start at just under $97,000, while monthly fees can be as low as $1,800.

 
 
Next: The aging of the well-heeled baby boomers is attracting others.
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