Long Lake-based Roers Cos. is pursuing a new niche: The company is developing five housing projects for seniors throughout the metro.

All of them are either under construction or opening within the next two years.

After developing about $500 million in residential and commercial projects throughout the Midwest, including thousands of market-rate rentals in the Twin Cities metro and the Dakotas, growing demand for senior housing is sending the company in another direction. Its Havenwood of Richfield project, at 245 76th St. W., was built by CBS Construction and is managed by Avinity.

In a statement, Avinity's vice president of operations, Gigi DesLauriers-Knop, said, "We know from talking with prospective residents that they want to stay in the area, near their family, friends, churches and medical care. And they are thrilled to move into a brand-new building where they know they can get the care they want as their needs change."

The company is following demand. When the 88-unit Havenwood of Richfield opened in June, it was more than 87 percent leased, with independent-living and assisted-living apartments selling out first. The 550-square-foot studios started at $1,400 per month; the 397-square-foot memory-care units started at $5,800.

The success of that project reflects the need for more senior-housing options.

Kent Roers, principal at Roers Cos., said there is an acute shortage of quality senior-living options that offer a continuum of care. Roers estimated that between 2016 and 2020, all senior groups in this market will experience strong growth.

Those who are 70 to 74 will grow at the greatest pace since the first baby boomers began retiring at 70 in 2017, the company said. In Richfield, it said, the population of those who are 70 and older is growing faster than any other age group.

"Havenwood of Richfield definitely fills a gap for the growing number of aging seniors not only in Richfield but in nearby Minneapolis and Bloomington," Roers said.

Roers partnered with Mesaba Capital on Havenwood of Richfield, operated by Avinity, and has partnered with operator Walker Methodist on the other 4 projects-- Burnsville, Minnetonka, Buffalo and Onalaska, Wis.

Construction on Havenwood of Onalaska began in July of 2018 and will include 128 senior apartments; construction on Havenwood of Burnsville began in September 2018 and will include 116 senior apartments and 18 memory care suites.

Havenwood of Buffalo will begin construction early next year and will have 66 apartments and 18 memory care suites and a "care suites neighborhood."

Havenwood of Minnetonka is under construction.

Jim Buchta