Atria Senior Living and Related Companies have 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.
Real estate investment trust Welltower (NYSE: WELL) is also a partner on the first two Coterie projects.
“Coterie is derivative of a French word that basically means a band of friends or a group that’s interested in working together for something,” Atria CEO John Moore told Senior Housing News. “That’s what we wanted to evoke in the name for the brand: This is your home, and the group of people that you live with, the team that supports you, is your coterie.”
The building designs and operating models for the first two Coterie communities are intended to foster this sense of community and social connection, while also delivering a new standard of luxury living for older adults in sought-after urban locations.
Coterie Cathedral Hill in San Francisco is the first Coterie community scheduled 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 deliver an experience worthy of that price point, including through partnerships with organizations such as Mayo Clinic.
He also is confident about consumer demand for Coterie. Pre-leasing has already begun for the 209-unit building in San Francisco, and so far the priciest units have been particularly popular, he told SHN.
“There’s this underserved group of seniors who have lived full lives in every way and want to keep doing it,” Moore said. “What we’re doing is creating an environment where they can live well, and easily do all the things that they love to do.”
The Coterie model emerges
Putting social connection at the heart of the Coterie brand speaks to the value proposition that the JV partners believe will fill a market gap.
Affluent older adults living in markets such as San Francisco and Manhattan have the means to live in luxurious apartments or condos at exclusive addresses and create their own support systems through delivery services and at-home care, Moore said.
Coterie therefore needs to offer a more attractive option, and that means fostering community among residents, and presenting them with experiences and choices that would not otherwise be available.
“It’s affinity, it’s options, it’s quality,” Moore said.
Atria, Related and partners such as Handel Architects have spent considerable effort on iterating different designs and operational approaches to meet these goals, Moore said.
For instance, the team “continually evolved” toward larger units, he explained. They recognized that prospective residents want a home and do not want to compromise on features such as full kitchens.
This decision appears to be paying off already. Eighty-year-old Janet Cluff was one of the first people to sign a lease, and she did not want to downsize 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 quite high,” she told the Chronicle.
A friend of Cluff’s also has signed a lease at Coterie and is pleased to have enough room for a grand piano. Both of their units are on the building’s top floor.
Last week, Cluff attended an Atria-sponsored boxing night at the renowned Olympic Club, which has hosted several U.S. Open golf championships. This is just a taste of the experiences that will be available to Coterie residents, Moore told SHN.
Coterie is striving to elevate even those amenities that are common in upscale senior living. Take the outdoor pool. Because the Coterie building is essentially built into a hillside, the pool deck will look right out onto St. Mary’s Cathedral and offer a panoramic view of the skyline and horizon.
And while many senior living communities tout restaurant-quality dining, Coterie Cathedral Hill has hired David Lawrence to lead the culinary program. Lawrence trained in Michelin-starred restaurants in London before opening two renowned San Francisco restaurants, 1300 on Fillmore and Black Bark BBQ.
Coterie’s approach to health and wellness includes a partnership with Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program. Mayo and Atria have worked together on Covid-19 testing throughout the pandemic, and at Coterie will be collaborating on a “wellness vision,” Moore said.
To help execute on this vision, Coterie staff will receive training from Mayo Clinic Health Living experts in a variety of areas, including physical activity, nutrition, resiliency and wellness coaching, according to Coterie promotional material.
Additional partnerships with health care providers for co-located services also are in the works, Moore added. And, the community will include a memory care component.
Coterie Cathedral Hill’s location will also help facilitate health care, as the community is less than a mile away from the recently opened California Pacific Medical Center/Sutter Health Van Ness Campus.
While features such as the pool deck, multiple dining venues, and the health and wellness spaces showcase the community’s high-end, service-enriched environment, the Coterie team is focused on ensuring that design decisions support not only a luxurious but comfortable lifestyle, Moore said.
For example, the Coterie elevators will be timed to stay open longer than usual, and the designs call for more elevators than typical for comparable buildings of their size.
High tech, high touch
Hiring and retaining staff is challenging but crucial to the success of any senior living project, and Coterie Cathedral Hill will need to recruit workers that can deliver a particularly high level of customer service.
Personal style assistants, chauffeurs and a technology concierge are among the staff who will deliver “anticipatory service that elevates your everyday,” according to the Coterie promotional booklet.
In the effort to attract staff, Atria intends to set wages that are comparable to those at five-star hotels and nearby hospitals, and the Coterie price point allows for “more options” than in a more typical senior living development, Moore said.
In addition to its Michelin-rated chef, Atria has hired a general manager for Coterie Cathedral Hill — Michael Pounsberry — who has a background in high-end resorts and hotels.
Pandemic-related volatility in the hospitality industry should aid Atria in the quest to hire top talent, Moore said, and he also believes that the Coterie model itself is attractive.
“We’re able to attract really talented people, who are excited,” he said.
Still, Atria will strive to drive staffing efficiencies, including through the use of technology. The Coterie communities will feature a robust technology suite supporting the resident experience and back-end operations — including Echo Show devices rolled out as part of a new enterprise offering from Amazon.
The Amazon platform should help drive staffing efficiencies by facilitating smoother communication among residents, their loved ones and the building’s workforce, and enabling staff to document more easily. Other examples of tech include Alice, a system frequently used by hotel operators to manage concierge functions.
These sorts of efficiencies give Moore confidence that Coterie can pay competitive wages and offer a multifaceted resident experience while delivering bottom-line results.
“I’m excited about our ability to drive margin, in a world where that’s a tough thing to say,” he said.
The JV’s future
With the brand formulated and pre-leasing now underway in San Francisco, the sales and marketing process for Coterie is now ramping up.
The effort includes a promotion with Food and Wine magazine. While prospects are often given a brochure and snack when meeting with sales teams in senior living, Coterie prospects are gifted a subscription to Food and Wine. Each issue that is delivered to this group will include a cover wrap featuring Coterie.
The cover wrap for the Food & Wine 2021 Thanksgiving Issue features information about the David Lawrence-led dining program.
“Sourcing interesting and thoughtful ways to approach this customer base is something I’m proud of,” Moore said.
Related also is informing the sales and marketing approach, drawing on their experience in urban projects. The JV decided not to open the Manhattan project in stages, which means that prospects will be able to tour multifamily units slated for completion before the senior living floors of the building.
“To work with as professional an urban builder as Related creates some options you wouldn’t necessarily expect you’d have,” Moore said.
In San Francisco, preleasing is solidly within the pro forma and based mostly on word-of-mouth so far, according to Moore. Hard-hat tours are underway and the closing ratio for these is “1,000%,” he noted.
Looking further to the future, he anticipates that the pipeline of Coterie projects will be more solidified by the time the Manhattan project opens. And Atria and Related may undertake projects that do not bear the Coterie brand.
The JV was formed to develop Coterie buildings but also to execute smart real estate deals to tap into the rising demand for senior housing as the population ages, Moore said.
“In the ‘seniors decade,’ who knows what that will bring?” he said.