“I am not a fan of the RV sector”

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Are retirement villages the right model for the emerging baby boomer customer? In our SATURDAY digital magazine last week, we looked at three retirement living executives who are looking at new alternatives.

First up is Rod Fehring – Ex CEO Lendlease Retirement – who says he is not a fan of the RV sector.

The CEO of Frasers Property from 2015 to 2020, and now Executive Chairman, Rod Fehring was CEO of Lendlease’s retirement village business (then titled Retirement by Design) from 2004 to 2007, followed by their Lend Lease Primelife business from 2008 to 2010.

With that background, at our LEADERS SUMMIT 2019, he said:

“In my experience with RV and aged care – I am not a fan of the RV sector. I am not a fan because I believe fundamentally that retirement living is about property – it’s not about property, it’s about care.”

He then gave a presentation on Midtown, Frasers Property’s $2.2 billion/8.2 ha development at Macquarie Park, 17km north of Sydney CBD and adjacent to Macquarie University.

Rod positioned this development as a connected community where the intergenerational population will care for each other, a far superior model to the likes of retirement villages where one operator oversees a limited aged cohort of people.

The 3,300 apartment development features 33% open space integrated with community facilities, a vertical school for primary aged children through to year nine, two childcare centres, a pool, gymnasium, a retail precinct, workplaces, bus and rail stations and it’s adjacent to a world-class university.

The project is in partnership with the NSW Ministry of Housing and Mission Australia who will oversee the long-term delivery of a ‘connected community’.

“Our task is ultimately to take the responsibility for care from one organisation to a group of people. who have the interest of the area in perpetuity and who actually care about the residents and constituents of that community.”

“The objective is to provide connectivity… connections are made between people no matter what age you are.”

He speaks of ‘open space’ to enable passive and active connectivity. Education is a key connector of people who form associations with each other through their children who they would otherwise not meet. Retail is a place of congregation that naturally forms connections with shop owners as people ‘who constantly bump into each other’.

Compared to retirement villages, “we are looking to create a secure and connectedness between all members of this community to enable that overall care as distinct from having it sheeted home to one party and one party only.”.

Next week we will speak to Simon Militano, also ex-Lendlease – on his new venture, Jardin in Frenches Forest here in Sydney.