Retirement communities boom in Amarillo

Dustin Meyer, City of Amarillo Planner II
Dustin Meyer, City of Amarillo Planner II
Jeff Yates, President and CEO of Westlake
Jeff Yates, President and CEO of Westlake

By Sarah Seeley
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Amarillo's retirement communities are at capacity and now planners are looking for more to be built.

As the number of people reaching retirement continues to increase, more independent living communities for seniors are being built to house the active elderly.

39,000 Amarillo residents are 55 or older.

The city of Amarillo says that number will continue to rise as baby boomers near retirement.

But not all of them will need to live in nursing home-type communities.

"For active seniors that don't want to go into a convalescent home, the assisted and independent living centers are obviously pretty attractive as opposed to an isolated apartment," said Dustin Meyer, City of Amarillo Planner II.

"They're a different breed all together; they've experienced more, they've been around the world more, [and] they have a little bit higher level of expectations," said Jeff Yates, President and CEO of Westlake, a new retirement community being built on Coulter and 9th.

"We knew it was important to create an environment where they can come and thrive and not just come and live out the last few years of their life," he said.

Amarillo is seeing occupancy rates in retirement communities at nearly 100% and more people are moving to the city for better care.

"Here locally in the panhandle you have a huge influx of folks coming from the outer regions wanting to settle here because this is where their medical care is," said Yates.  "Thus we can't build enough [retirement facilities to keep up with future demand]."

Developers and city planners say it's important for Amarillo to prevent an assisted living and nursing home shortage in the next ten years.