Atria, a related brand of Coterie for the development of urban luxury senior residences
Atria Senior Living and Related Companies announced that “Coterie” is the brand name for the luxury communities they are developing in San Francisco and New York City, as part of a planned $ 3 billion pipeline.
The property investment fund Welltower (NYSE: WELL) is also a partner in Coterie’s first two projects.
“Coterie is derived from a French word that basically means a bunch of friends or a group that is interested in working together for something,” Atria CEO John Moore told Senior Housing News. “That’s what we wanted to evoke in the brand name: it’s your home, and the group of people you live with, the team that supports you, is your coterie.
The design of the buildings and the operating models of the first two communities of La Coterie aim to foster this feeling of community and social bond, while offering a new level of luxury living to the elderly in sought-after urban locations.
Coterie Cathedral Hill in San Francisco is the first Coterie community slated to open in March 2022. Monthly rates for two-bedroom units in the building will range between $ 16,600 and $ 27,000 – and Moore is confident that Coterie will offer an experience worthy of this price point, in particular through partnerships with organizations such as the Mayo Clinic.
He is also confident about consumer demand for Coterie. Pre-rental has already started for the 209-unit building in San Francisco, and so far the more expensive units have been particularly popular, he told SHN.
“There’s this group of underserved seniors who have lived full lives in every way and want to continue to do so,” Moore said. “What we do is create an environment where they can live well and easily do all the things they love to do.”
The Coterie model emerges
Placing social ties at the heart of the Coterie brand testifies to the value proposition which, according to the partners of the JV, will fill a gap in the market.
Affluent seniors living in markets such as San Francisco and Manhattan can afford to live in luxury apartments or condos at exclusive addresses and create their own support systems through delivery services and home care, Moore said.
Coterie must therefore offer a more attractive option, which means fostering community among residents and presenting them with experiences and choices that would not be available otherwise.
“It’s the affinity, it’s the options, it’s the quality,” Moore said.
Atria, Related and partners such as Handel Architects have put considerable effort into iterating different designs and operational approaches to achieve these goals, Moore said.
For example, the team “continuously evolved” into larger units, he explained. They recognized that potential residents want a home and don’t want to compromise on features like full kitchens.
This decision already seems to be bearing fruit. Janet Cluff, 80, was one of the first people to sign a lease, and she didn’t want to go from a full kitchen to a microwave and mini-fridge, she told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Coming from a big house with great views, my qualifications were pretty high,” she told The Chronicle.
A friend of Cluff’s also signed a lease at the Coterie and is happy to have enough room for a grand piano. Their two units are on the top floor of the building.
Last week, Cluff attended an Atria-sponsored boxing night at the famous Olympic Club, which has hosted several US Open golf championships. This is just a taste of the experiences that will be available to Coterie residents, Moore told SHN.
Coterie strives to improve even the amenities that are common in high-end retirement homes. Take the outdoor pool. Because the Coterie building is essentially built on the hillside, the pool terrace will directly overlook the Sainte-Marie Cathedral and offer a panoramic view of the skyline and the horizon.
And while many senior residences tout fine dining, Coterie Cathedral Hill has hired David Lawrence to lead the culinary program. Lawrence trained at Michelin-starred restaurants in London before opening two renowned restaurants in San Francisco, 1300 on Fillmore and Black Bark BBQ.
Coterie’s approach to health and wellness includes a partnership with the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. Mayo and Atria have worked together on Covid-19 testing throughout the pandemic, and at Coterie will collaborate on a “vision for well-being,” Moore said.
To help realize this vision, Coterie staff will receive expert training from Mayo Clinic Health Living in a variety of areas including physical activity, nutrition, resilience and wellness, according to promotional material from the Coterie.
Additional partnerships with healthcare providers for co-located services are also underway, Moore added. And, the community will include a memory care component.
The location of Coterie Cathedral Hill will also help facilitate healthcare, as the community is less than a mile from the recently opened California Pacific Medical Center / Sutter Health Van Ness Campus.
While features such as the pool deck, multiple restaurants, and health and wellness areas highlight the upscale environment and enriched with community service, the Coterie team strives to ensure that design decisions not only support a luxurious but comfortable lifestyle, Moore mentioned.
For example, Coterie elevators will be programmed to stay open longer than usual, and designs require more elevators than usual for comparable buildings of their size.
High tech, high touch
Hiring and retaining staff is difficult but crucial to the success of any retirement home project, and Coterie Cathedral Hill will need to recruit workers capable of providing a particularly high level of customer service.
Personal-style assistants, drivers, and a tech concierge are on staff who will provide “an anticipation service that elevates your daily life,” according to the Coterie promotional booklet.
In an effort to attract staff, Atria intends to set salaries comparable to those of five-star hotels and neighboring hospitals, and the Coterie price allows “more options” than in a development of life for. older people more typical, Moore said.
In addition to its Michelin-starred chef, Atria has hired a general manager for Coterie Cathedral Hill – Michael Pounsberry – who has experience in resorts and upscale hotels.
The volatility associated with the pandemic in the hospitality industry should help Atria in its quest to hire top talent, Moore said, and he also believes the Coterie model itself is attractive.
“We are able to attract really talented people, who are enthusiastic,” he said.
Nonetheless, Atria will strive to improve staff efficiency, including through the use of technology. Coterie Communities will include a robust technology suite supporting the resident experience and back-end operations, including Echo Show devices deployed as part of a new corporate offering from Amazon.
The Amazon platform is expected to help improve staff efficiency by facilitating smoother communication between residents, loved ones, and building workforce, and making it easier for staff to document. Other examples of technology include Alice, a system frequently used by hoteliers to manage concierge functions.
These types of efficiency give Moore the assurance that Coterie can pay competitive salaries and deliver a multi-faceted resident experience while delivering bottom-line results.
“I’m excited about our ability to generate margins, in a world where it’s a hard thing to say,” he said.
The future of JV
With the branding and pre-rental underway in San Francisco, Coterie’s sales and marketing process accelerates.
The effort includes a promotion with Food and Wine magazine. While prospects often receive a brochure and snack when they meet with sales teams at senior residences, Coterie prospects receive a Food and Wine subscription. Each issue delivered to this group will include a cover featuring Coterie.
The cover of Thanksgiving Food & Wine 2021 has information about the dining program led by David Lawrence.
“Finding interesting and thoughtful ways to approach this clientele is something I’m proud of,” said Moore.
Related is also to inform the commercial and marketing approach, drawing on their experience in urban projects. The joint venture has decided not to open the Manhattan Project in stages, which means prospects will be able to visit multi-family units slated for completion before the building’s upper floors.
“Working with an urban builder as professional as Related creates options that you wouldn’t necessarily expect,” Moore said.
In San Francisco, pre-letting sits firmly in the pro forma and relies mostly on word of mouth so far, according to Moore. Safety helmet tours are underway and the closing ratio for them is “1,000%,” he noted.
Looking further into the future, he predicts that the Coterie pipeline of projects will be stronger when the Manhattan Project opens. And Atria and Related can undertake projects that do not bear the Coterie brand.
The joint venture was formed to develop the Coterie buildings, but also to execute smart real estate transactions to take advantage of the growing demand for senior housing as the population ages, Moore said.
“In the ‘decade of seniors’, who knows what this will bring? he said.