Alaska has the fastest-growing senior population in the nation.

Residents 65 years and older numbered nearly 55,000 in 2010, a more than 50% increase since 2000. Officials expect Alaska’s elderly population to continue to rise dramatically in the years ahead, increasing the demand for affordable senior housing.

The Cook Inlet Housing Authority (CIHA) recognized the need more than 30 years ago when it developed a 60-unit senior housing building in east Anchorage in 1982. Over the years, CIHA developed more senior housing buildings within a 20-acre area, calling the entire development Centennial Village.

The 34-unit Caswell Court is the latest development on the campus, which consists of seven developments that provide 401 units.

Understanding the pressing need for housing, CIHA officials took a close look at the campus and found a small 0.9-acre parcel that offered an infill opportunity to build Caswell Court, which is likely the final housing development at the site.

Its one- and two-bedroom apartments are all fully accessible and have equipment to assist seniors with sight and/or hearing impairments. The apartments serve residents earning no more than 50% and 60% of the area median income. CIHA set aside four units for formerly homeless residents, 12 units for disabled residents, and three Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act units.

Built specifically with seniors in mind, the use of the space is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or concentration level. Throughout the building, navigation is easy and intuitive. To differentiate the building’s four floors, each level is uniquely colored.

Due to Caswell Court’s small site, areas for community rooms within the building were limited. However, it's close proximity to other recently completed developments allows residents to use nearby amenities, including programs at the Centennial Center, which features more than 8,000-square-feet of common space serving the entire campus. The center includes an exercise room, lounge areas,a library, a computer center, and a dining room for the weekday Salvation Army lunch service. CIHA was then able to maximize the number of housing units at the new development.

“We were able to take advantage of the community space that we had developed prior to developing Caswell Court,” says Jeff Judd, CIHA executive vice president, real estate. “It allowed us to build Caswell Court in a meaningful way that maybe we would not have been able to do had we not invested in campus community space for two years prior.”

The $8.6 million development was financed with tax-exempt bonds issued by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, purchased by Northrim Bank, a local community bank, and 4% low-income housing tax credit equity from R4 Capital.