Everything Old is New Again: Green Hills, Ames, IA  

Green Hills Retirement Community started construction on a major new expansion of both independent living units and common spaces. We’ve met with residents and toured the existing facilities and the planned updates address both aesthetic and functional issues by adding a new main entrance, lobby, and hospitality area. We’re holding off on a review until construction is done as the architectural updates are definitely needed to complement a track record of success for a CCRC senior living community strongly connected by history, location and formal partnerships to Iowa State University.

The concept for Green Hills emerged from the creative nova that produced a slew of new university-owned or affiliated facilities in the 1970s including Hilton Coliseum (home of Hilton Magic), Jack Trice Field (the only Division I football stadium named after an African-American); and the Gateway Conference Center. Green Hills opened in 1986 adjacent to the Gateway Conference Center and close to Iowa State Center’s athletic facilities and research park.

Interestingly, university or college affiliated senior living facilities are back on the front burner around the country. Looking at a historically successful university-affiliated project, like Green Hills, makes sense. An old idea is very new and trendy again with the opportunities for synergy that a college or university relationship can offer. If everything in development materializes, the number of college or university-affiliated CCRCs or senior living communities nationwide may double in the next few years. Think of Green Hills as the proven franchise team making sure it stays on top.  For examples see:

Currently, Green Hills’s 30-acre campus offers 53 condominiums and 80 townhomes that are owned by each individual resident. Hospitality and care services are provided under a monthly fee. This is an easy to explain business model. The current condos are in a high-rise and mid-rise tower. Because units are owned by individuals, they have largely been updated through the years. The common spaces are well-maintained but layout is handicapped by design choices made thirty-years ago. The addition corrects some key traffic flow issues and promises a dramatic aesthetic update. The expansion adds 32 additional units with 9’ ceilings in a three-story addition.

Green Hills added assisted living, memory care, wellness center and updated and expanded skilled nursing facilities through the years including several updates in the last five years.. The new addition makes much needed new investments in independent living capacity and offerings.

We particularly like Green Hills for their formal partnerships with Iowa State University (ISU) and its Osher Lifelong Learning Institute; McFarland Clinic (the regional integrated medical practice); Mary Greeley Hospital (a well rated regional health center that shares a campus and coordinates with McFarland Clinic); and others.

Green Hills was originally developed by community leaders. Green Hills is now managed by Life Care Services, LLC. Green Hills has a strong community reputation for excellence but also faces new competition in the Ames/Des Moines corridor. We’ll be watching the addition with bated breath. (That is, we’ll be holding our breath in anticipation, as “bated” is just foreshortened “abated” in Shakespeare speak.)