Wilton leads area towns in senior housing

When it comes to assisted living and other types of senior housing, Wilton has more units than neighboring towns, and it soon may have even more.

Brightview Senior Living, which has senior housing facilities in Norwalk and Shelton, has expressed interest in building a mix of independent, assisted-living, and memory care units in a three-story building on 6.9 acres on Danbury and Pimpewaug roads in Wilton.

Wilton currently has 439 senior housing units in six facilities: Brookdale Place of Wilton, 64 units; Greens at Cannondale, 126 units; Ogden House, 85 units; Sunrise Senior Living, 90 units; Wilton Commons I, 51 units; and Wilton Commons II, 23 units.

By comparison, other area towns (excluding cities) have less dedicated senior housing. Ridgefield has approximately 320 units, Darien 248 units, Westport 220 units, New Canaan 200 units, and 59 units in Redding.

So why has Wilton become such a popular location for senior housing?

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There are many factors and substantial research that goes into senior housing site selection, according to Christopher Carter, president of the Connecticut Assisted Living Association.

“Market feasibility studies are done and there is a lot of planning that goes into selecting the state, the city or town, and specifically the areas within the city or town,” he said.

To determine the need for a new senior-housing facility, developers look at three criteria, according to Carter: age, income, and health/service needs.

Taking the area’s aging demographics into account, the senior population in Fairfield County, where Wilton is located, is continuing to grow as the baby boomer generation ages.

“Given that Fairfield County is a suburb of New York City, there is a lot of population density in the area. There is also a fair bit of development taking place in Fairfield County,” Carter said.

As for income, Connecticut had the highest per capita income in the country in 2010-2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, with Fairfield County having the highest median income in the state.

As for services needed by area seniors, there appears to be a variety of levels, as demonstrated by Brightview’s plan to incorporate independent, assisted-living, and memory care units in its proposal.

Wilton’s location also makes it especially good for senior housing. Located on the Route 7 corridor of Fairfield County, Wilton has two train stations, and is close to the Merritt Parkway, and I-95, making it convenient for visitors and travel.

But new senior housing projects aren’t limited to Wilton, and are sprouting up elsewhere in the area. Atria Senior Living in Ridgefield is opening this fall with 86 apartments, and The Residence is scheduled to open in Westport next summer with 97 senior units.