By Cecilia Chan, GSN Managing Editor

An 85-unit assisted-care facility cleared an initial hurdle to build near the Mercy Gilbert Medical Center campus.

Planning Commission last week approved a conditional use permit for The Abbington at Gilbert on 3.18 acres at the corner of Mercy and Pecos roads.

The site is part of the Celebration Campus to support the medical campus, according to Ashlee MacDonald, senior planner.

The 78,650-square-foot building would be two-stories, she told the commissioners, adding staff recommenced approval.

Sixteen of the units would be dedicated for memory care, according to Jared Humphries, a partner and architect for the project.

The assisted-living facility includes a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom units.

More than a dozen senior housing options currently exist in Gilbert, ranging from independent living to skilled nursing.

Matt Walker of Abbington Senior Living Corp. said the plan is to break ground within 180 days, provided the facility makes it through the approval process. It would then take 14 months to build, he added.

“We are an aging population,” Walker said after the vote. “Baby boomers are getting to the age they need care in the next 15-20 years. There may be a good amount of supply now, but there’s going to be more demand.”

The senior housing market is expected to grow with the graying of baby boomers, those born 1946 to 1964.

Roughly 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day, a trend that will rise through 2030 when all people from that generation will be older than 65, according to the US Census Bureau.

By 2035, people 65 and older are projected to outnumber children for the first time in US history – 78 million compared with 76.7 million, the Census Bureau added.

As such, all types of senior housing facilities are poised for growth, according to Kidder Matthews, a commercial real estate firm.