For years, The Cloisters community served older DeLandites by providing assisted living.
In the eight-story tower looking over the east side of Downtown DeLand, there were meals in a common dining room, systems for checking up on residents, and nurses and other kinds of support for residents with disabilities or elderly residents.
Now rebranded as Aventine at DeLand, The Cloisters is changing its business model to that of an active adult community — still age-qualified, but for residents who don’t need assistance from medical staff.
Management said the previous business model wasn’t paying the bills.
Assisted living is no longer offered, and, beginning at the end of this month, the cafeteria will close.
“I think that with rising costs for payroll, for material, for food, it became difficult to pencil out a profitable business plan going solely on the 55-plus-with-services route,” Amit Israni said. “After we took over, we realized there wasn’t a crazy amount of demand.”
Israni is a principal and part of the ownership team for Pacifica Senior Living, a company with myriad real estate ventures, including housing, hotels and senior-housing communities in 12 states across the United States. Pacifica purchased The Cloisters from the Retirement Housing Foundation in August 2022.
Before the new management took over, Pacifica told residents living there who needed assisted living that they would have to move to another facility.
The changes, management said, will enable Aventine to cater to more DeLand residents.
“There were people that had services in the building — still are — but there are just an astronomical amount more people who don’t want services,” Israni said. “Frankly, it’s an easier way to fill up the building and make sense on paper.”
With services going away, residents’ rent costs are also decreasing, too.
The Cloisters is not the only prominent DeLand retirement community undergoing changes.
The Good Samaritan Society has announced that Florida Lutheran retirement community is set to get new owners, too. While a date hasn’t been set yet, the Good Samaritan Society, which operates assisted living facilities across the U.S., is working to pull its operation out of 15 states, including Florida.
That means ownership will change hands for the Good Samaritan Society – Florida Lutheran facility in DeLand.
The DeLand location will remain an assisted living facility, a spokesperson for Good Samaritan told The Beacon, but a new owner has yet to be determined.
“Until transitions are complete in each location, these employees and residents will see no changes in their day-to-day experience,” a statement from Good Samaritan Society CEO Nate Schema said. “Residents will continue receiving care and services through the transition and we will communicate new information as it becomes available.”
More change may come to former Cloisters
As for Aventine at DeLand, the business model might change even more. One goal, managing partner Israni said, is to potentially open up the community to residents of all ages.
Since the new owners changed the business model, Executive Director Tom Sutton said, he’s seen more activity than he had in some time.
“I’ve got more move-ins in a month than I probably had in a year here under the Retirement Housing Foundation,” Sutton said.
He has served as the community’s executive director since 2021, before Pacifica bought The Cloisters. He also worked at the community in the early 2000s before returning in 2021.
The changes have been upsetting to some former Cloisters residents, including DeLandite Beth Fogle-Miller’s mother, Harriet Bolin, who moved into The Cloisters in 2021.
It wasn’t an easy decision for Bolin to move out of her home of 50 years and into The Cloisters, Fogle-Miller explained.
“She chose it because it did have the independent living and the assisted living for when she would need it,” she said.
At 82, Bolin can take care of herself just fine, but she appreciated some amenities, like The Cloisters’ cafeteria, for its sense of community.
“They began renting apartments without any amenities, and they’re reasonable,” Fogle-Miller said. “For a lot of folks, that was a very good deal, and Mom’s rent will drop a lot, but her responsibility will increase at an age when that is not a welcome piece of news.”
While Fogle-Miller is pleased to see that her mother’s rent will decrease to reflect the reduced services, she still wished there had been more communication between management and the residents and their families.
“I think it could have been framed in a way that worked better for folks. The lack of communication has been really, really disappointing,” Fogle-Miller said.
The first indication of sweeping changes she saw in writing, she said, was a letter residents received before the end of 2022 explaining that Aventine at DeLand’s cafeteria was on its way out at the end of February 2023.
”We understand that this change will affect the meal plans for many of our residents,” the letter said, “and as such we have attached a document outlining meal order, food delivery, and restaurant services in your neighborhood.”
The letter included a list of nearby restaurants that offer delivery services and other third-party delivery services, like Grubhub.
Going forward, management told The Beacon, Aventine at DeLand’s management hopes to focus more energy into sprucing up the community’s buildings and planning more events.
Wow! That has to be a real kick in the cojones for some of those residents!
One wonders if the forward thinking city council will be allowing in-unit bicycle parking spaces with these changes.
Very sad & disappointed. They threw out many seniors. They felt safe , & had all their necessities met in a gated community. Good luck to the new owners, they will need it.