An Iowa-based developer of senior housing cooperatives is looking to expand into neighboring states with a new twist on a decades-old model.
The company, Pella, Iowa-based Ewing Properties, has 11 senior housing cooperatives in the state under its Vintage Cooperative brand.
Like other kinds of senior housing co-ops, residents in Vintage Cooperative communities don’t rent their units or own a deed to a house. Instead, buy a share of an overall development, and typically only pay monthly charges for things like assessments, maintenance and repairs. Co-op residents also have voting rights over decisions made in the community, and typically have more control over their units’ interior designs.
Community managers handle the resale process in-house when a Vintage Cooperatives resident wants to move. And as a resident lives in their home, the unit appreciates value so that when it comes time to sell, the money goes back to them or to a beneficiary.
Over the years, the co-op concept hasn’t expanded to states far beyond its birthplace in Minnesota. But with Vintage Cooperatives, Ewing Properties is tweaking the co-op model to include freestanding “patio homes,” and expanding it into new footholds in the Midwest and potentially beyond.
In newer development projects, Vintage Cooperative is building patio homes so residents can share the community without sharing walls with one another.
For example, the company’s co-op coming together in Columbia, Missouri, is slated to include 46 different lots for residents in addition to amenities including a clubhouse, pickleball court and fitness facilities. Share costs for that community are set to range between $450,000 and $700,000, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.
“We are designing around socialization,” Ropp said. “We strategically placed the common spaces where people gather and have a cup of coffee or have a tailgate party or host an event.”
Vintage offers a variety of price points for flexibility, with the option to purchase 100% of the share or a portion of it so they can pay it off over time.
“As we’ve done more co-ops over the last many years, we’re listening to our customers and they say ‘I want to put more down, I want to lower that mortgage portion in my monthly fee,” said Ropp.
Ewing Properties currently has four projects underway in Iowa and two more slated for Missouri. And that is just the beginning for the developer if its greater plans come to fruition, according to Ewing Properties Sales Director Heather Ropp.
“We have a couple of states identified outside of Iowa and Missouri,” Ropp told Senior Housing News.
The company is more specifically looking at expanding in neighboring states to Iowa, where it already has development relationships; and states with warmer climates.
“We are looking at potentially something in the south where [residents] could have their Iowa-based home and they can go their home in the south … so they can be dual residents,” Ropp said.
Though still a relative niche in the overall senior housing landscape, the senior housing co-op trend is gaining momentum in 2022. Even in the years before the pandemic, the model seemed to be ready for a wider national expansion.
And Ewing Properties is just one company involved in creating a new generation of senior housing co-op developments. Others include senior housing co-op pioneer Ebenezer, which returned to its roots earlier this year by pivoting to the development of senior housing co-ops.. Ebenezer currently provides management services to more than 60 co-ops throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.
“Co-ops started back in 1978 in Minnesota, and it’s evolved [since then], Ropp said. “We’ve evolved as a company.”
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