One company looking to lead the way in redefining life in retirement is Riverstone, a £ 3 billion Goldman Sachs backed portfolio that aims to provide “exceptional living” for those 65 and over in prime central London Offer. Kensington and Fulham recently started the first two projects in their development portfolio.
Earlier this year she also appointed Dr. Zoe Wyrko – a household name for fans of Channel 4’s award-winning 4 year olds’ home – as her Well-Being Director.
Here we speak with Riverstone’s CEO Jason Leek about the transformation of senior housing, affordability, and the demand of the over 65s for urban living.
You’re talking about redefining retirement living – can you explain more?
As more and more people lead longer and more fulfilling lives, there is a marked shift in the desires of those over 65 when it comes to how and where they want to enjoy their later years.
Downsizing to a coastal bungalow isn’t for everyone. Some want to stay in vibrant places surrounded by their social network, which is why we started Riverstone.
Inspired by the more mature bond markets in the United States, Australasia and Canada, the world-class communities that Riverstone has created in prime central London are focused on the health, happiness and wellbeing of our residents.
The family-friendly amenities we offer expand residents’ homes and provide access to libraries, bars, restaurants, cinemas, spas, and club rooms. However, our attention to detail not only looks at the lifestyle of our residents, but also how the residents want to live their lives.
The focus is on factors such as the integration of well-being and individual care and how the residents would like to integrate this into their everyday life if they wish.
We also work with carefully selected partners such as Jekka McVicar VMH, the renowned herb specialist, to curate special herb gardens in our communities in Kensington and Fulham.
The preeminent focus on wellbeing for all ages has also prompted us to appoint a dedicated Wellbeing Director, geriatrician Dr. Zoe Wyrko. We see this as a unique offering in London to help those 65 and over lead the life they want to lead rather than what they think they should.
Retired living is a very niche here compared to the US and seemed to have declined a bit over the past year despite the pandemic. Does that agree with your experience?
Retired living is a much smaller market compared to our neighbors across the pond, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a demand for it. Not everyone wants to move to the country in their later years and we’ve seen great demand from those who want to be in the hustle and bustle of the capital, close to great restaurants, arguably the UK’s best theaters and beautiful parklands.
According to Knight Frank’s latest Senior Living Annual Report, there were 78,383 homes on offer in 2020, but a total population over 65 of 12.4 million. There just isn’t enough suitable real estate for the 65 and over, and we see Riverstone as helping to fill that niche in the market.
Why should real estate investors consider retiring versus building to rent, co-living, or buy-to-let, for example?
Our focus is primarily on providing our residents with the most enjoyable experience and a place they are proud to call home, but it is clear that institutional investors are taking note of the growth in retired living in the UK.
Over the past year investment interest in this market has increased across a range of platforms, with global institutional investors, private equity and banks increasing their exposure to the sector.
Population projections suggest that one in four will be over 65 by 2037, so we don’t expect that interest or demand to wane.
Won’t your homes be unaffordable for most of the market? Or is there a demand for first-class living in old age?
There is a demand for quality pensions, especially as the population of over 65s continues to grow. We expect the market to move forward with offers from various providers, but we are very confident of the demand for our offer.
Why do people over 65 want to stay in the city? Surely the pandemic would make them believe the landscape is safer?
Riverstone’s offerings are particularly suited to those who enjoy life in London and who want to downsize but also want to stay in the center of the hustle and bustle, cultural hotspots and fun that life in the capital brings with it. Just because people reach a certain age doesn’t mean they suddenly want to move to another part of the country.
Since more than 90% of the over 65-year-olds have now been vaccinated, their personal well-being is now a priority for many in this age group. In the past three lockdowns, many have been isolated from society and have relied on and hoped for the kindness of strangers.
This has resulted in many placing more emphasis on living close to like-minded people and providing tailored care and support when needed.
Are Riverstones Homes For Rent or For Sale? Can you tell us a little more about the Goldman Sachs portfolio and support?
Our Riverstone Kensington and Riverstone Fulham apartments are available for purchase and include a collection of 190 one, two and three bedroom apartments and 161 one, two and three bedroom apartments, respectively. The two developments are the first to be introduced in our new offering, supported by Goldman Sachs.
Riverstone Kensington is in a very desirable area in central London and was designed to evoke the grand townhouses and garden squares that give the area its elegant character, while Riverstone Fulham, in a prime location on the north bank of the Thames, has a riverside terrace and gardens to make the most of the environment. Prices range from £ 860,000 to £ 3,000,000.