Purchase College Moving Forward With $320M Senior Project

John Jordan | May 2018

A rendering of the Senior Living Community at Purchase College.

WHITE PLAINS—Officials with Purchase College-State University of New York briefed officials with the Westchester County Local Development Corp. at its session on April 26 on plans to build a $320-million Senior Learning Community on a 40-acre tract on the campus.

The Westchester LDC is performing due diligence on the college’s proposal to have the LDC issue tax-exempt bonds for the “Broadview Senior Living at Purchase College” project that is to be developed by Purchase Senior Learning Community, Inc. that will at full build out include up to 385 senior housing units. The development would be the first senior living community built on a college campus in Westchester County.

PSLC is a subsidiary not-for-profit formed by the owner of the project Purchase College Advancement Corp. a 501c3 corporation. PSLC is the sponsor of the project. PCAC has leased the 40-acre development parcel from SUNY for $1 per year for 75 year and will sublease the property to PSLC.

In the first phase of construction, PSLC will develop 220 independent living homes, consisting of 174 apartment homes and 46 single and duplex villas in the first phase of the project. Also planned are 18 assisted living beds and 16 memory care beds, 44,000 square feet of amenity space, that includes dining, fitness and spa facilities, lounge areas, a library, a theater and large Learning Commons. The project is designed to achieve LEED Silver certification.

The Learning Commons, which Purchase College officials said will be the “focal point” of the academic and social activity of the community, will consist of approximately 5,000 square feet of classrooms, maker spaces, performance areas, gathering spaces and private carrels (tables) for study.

The college in its presentation to the LDC stated that Purchase College students will be “encouraged to mingle with their older friends in this space and it will be programmed to encourage interaction.”

According to Purchase College’s presentation to the LDC given by Project Manager Wayne Rush, the first phase of construction on the project will total approximately 560,000 square feet of new construction. The general contractor for the project is Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., which is headquartered in New York City and has an office in White Plains.

A total of 20% or 44 homes of the 220 to be built in the first phase will be made affordable for seniors whose income is 80% (or less) than the median income in Westchester County. Purchase College stated to the Westchester LDC that priority for 50% of the affordable units would be given to current senior residents of Westchester County.

Homes will range in size from 600-square-foot one-bedroom apartments to 2,000-square-foot luxury single-family homes. Parking for the two apartment buildings will be below ground, while the villas will feature two-car garages.

Purchase College is looking to finance the project in two separate tranches. The first tranche totaling $13.8 million will be in the form of bond anticipation notes that it hopes to issue soon That financing will cover the costs of pre-marketing the project, as well as the costs associated with finishing the design and securing necessary approvals. The second tranche will be in the form of unrated bonds of varying maturities currently estimated at $320 million. That financing will repay the accrued interest and principal of the bond anticipation notes financing as well as cover the costs of construction, capitalized interest, start-up losses and reserves for the project, according to the presentation to the Westchester County LDC.

The project timeline calls for securing permanent financing and commencing construction in the late fall of 2019 and opening the community in the late spring of 2021.

The senior community will be used as a revenue source for the college for scholarships and the hiring of additional faculty thanks to enabling state legislation passed in 2011. PSLC will pay ground rent to PCAC. A total of 75% of the ground rent proceeds will provide additional student scholarships to Purchase College, while the remaining 25% of the ground rent proceeds will be earmarked for additional fulltime faculty.

Other benefits of the project for Purchase College will be to provide jobs for college students, mentors for students, as well as audiences for the college’s performing arts center and Neuberger Museum of Art located on campus. The senior community project has been a staple of Purchase College President Thomas J. Schwarz’s administration. Schwartz, who took over as Acting President in 2001 and was named president in 2003, announced plans he would be ending his tenure at Purchase College in the spring of 2019.

Purchase College Advancement Corporation has retained the partnership of Iowa-based Life Care Services Development, a subsidiary of Life Care Services, the nation’s third-largest manager of senior living communities, and Harrison, NY based Senior Care Development LLC, a developer of high-end senior communities, for development consulting services on the project.

Elizabeth Robertson, director of government relations and strategic projects for Purchase College, said plans have not been finalized for the remainder of the development, including the remaining up to 165 independent units that could be built per the enabling state legislation. She added that the $320-million estimated development cost is for phase one only.

Robertson said that construction on the first phase would not begin until it has commitments for at least 70% of the units in phase one. However, preliminary marketing and extensive market research has indicated strong demand and interest for the project.

To date, PCAC has committed $5 million in equity to fund pre-development costs associated with the project.

Joan McDonald, LDC Board member and Director of Operations for Westchester County, said after the LDC session, “From the LDC’s perspective we think it is a great project.” The LDC is currently performing due-diligence on the financials of the project and expects to make a decision on the $13.8 million bond financing component of the project at its meetings in either June or July.

Separate from the Senior Learning Community project the Westchester County LDC approved last October $36.4 million in low-cost financing for Purchase College-SUNY to construct a new residence hall on its campus.

The financing is being used to build a four-story, 80,000-square-foot residence hall, consisting of 300 beds in a suite-style configuration with student common areas and resident advisor accommodations, Westchester County officials state. The building, which will be designed and constructed to meet LEED Silver or better standards, will be located on a four-acre parcel of land near the college’s other residence halls and educational facilities.

The new residence hall is being constructed as a Design-Build project by KBE Building Corporation, headquartered in Farmington, CT.  The firm has retained New Haven, CT based Newman Architects for the design of the project.

Purchase College announced on March 26 that construction on the four-floor building had begun. The anticipated opening of the new residence hall is expected in August 2019.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth