Kiawah Island Senior Living Community helps propel state legislation

By Morgan Stewart for The Island Connection

Kiawah Life Plan Village Inc., a non-profit organization that has announced plans for Seafields at Kiawah Island (“Seafields”) – the first 62+ luxury life plan community on the resort island – in August 2021, shares the completion of General Bill R 223. The bill, which passed with overwhelming support in both houses of the South Carolina Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Henry McMaster on May 17, 2022, just finalized after the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (the “Department”) completed drafting updated regulations to reflect the change in law and updated documents and the application process.This new legislation will have a profound effect on South Carolina’s economy and future housing options for the state’s senior population, as well as current facilities with plans to expansion.

According to the South Carolina State Plan on Aging 21-25, South Carolina is the 10th fastest growing state in the nation and its elderly population is expected to increase by 21.8% by 2030 (from 1.19 million to 1.45 million older people). With these huge demographic shifts, housing for seniors is becoming a growing priority. In early 2021, KLPV (aka Seafields) began communicating with the Department regarding KLPV’s intention to submit an application for a Continuing Care Retirement Community License. At that time, the CCRC Act enacted by the South Carolina Legislature was silent on whether the Department was authorized to issue a “preliminary” license to CCRCs during the development and construction phase. . This issue was important because without a preliminary license, KLPV was unlikely to secure the permanent funding needed to fund construction. But without permanent funding already in place, it would be difficult for the Department to assess KLPV’s financial responsibility as required by CCRC statute before issuing a license. In other words, the department and the applicants were at an impasse. This issue had not previously been revealed as it had been many years since a new CCRC had arrived in South Carolina. KLPV worked with Department Administrator Carri Grube-Lybarker and his staff in late 2021 to draft a bill amending the CCRC statute to explicitly allow for a two-tier licensing system, in which an applicant could obtain a preliminary license during the development and construction phase and then obtain a full license once the facility was ready for occupancy. The bill also explicitly allowed CCRCs to collect “reservation deposits” before obtaining a license, allowing applicants to demonstrate the feasibility of the project to potential investors. KLPV and the Department then worked with Vickie Moody of Leading Age of South Carolina, a tax-exempt charitable organization focused on education, advocacy, and applied research representing the entire field of aging services), in order to gain the support of Leading Age members for the legislation. After the Department, KLPV and industry stakeholders all supported the CCRC legislation, KLPV and the Department Administrator contacted the Chairman of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee , Rep. Bill Sandifer, who agreed to sponsor the legislation. Carri Grube Lybarker and the KLPV representative testified before the relevant House and Senate subcommittees in support of the legislation. “It was an honor to participate in the development of this important legislation, alongside such a dedicated group of private and government entities. We worked closely with BRP Senior Housing Management, LLC – the developer of Seafields known for its deep experience in all aspects of senior housing development and operation – to help guide General Bill R 223 who will have a profound effect on South Carolina’s economy and future. housing options for the state’s senior population,” said Todd Lillibridge, president of Kiawah Life Plan Village (KLPV). This new legislation benefits potential residents of seniors’ residences because, the way the law was previously written, it was virtually impossible to build new facilities. Now it is possible for a developing community to apply for a preliminary license and then obtain a permanent license after obtaining an operating certificate. This bifurcated process will help stimulate more construction projects that will boost South Carolina’s economy and create more housing products for seniors, creating social and financial stability. It will also allow already existing communities to expand their facilities, a process that would not have been possible under the previous law.

Laws often change in the wake of avoidable public failure or outrage, but this was a successful example of private and government entities proactively working together to identify and resolve an existing problem.

Lynn A. Saleh