Seniors housing construction is looking up, industry experts noted at the annual National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care conference.

“We are seeing some signs that construction activity is starting to pick up now,” said Michael Hargrave, vice president, NIC MAP, in an interview with McKnight’s Editorial Director John O’Connor at the NIC conference last week. “Specifically, we’re seeing construction changing focus from 2005 and 2006, where it was more independent living centric [places] starting construction. Now what we’re seeing is needs-based, assisted or even memory care.”

Chicago is the top metropolitan market in the number of seniors housing units under construction, with New York, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Atlanta rounding out the top five, according to the NIC/ASHA Seniors Housing Construction Trends Report.

There has been a slow, modest recovery in occupancy rates across the metro areas tracked by NIC, Hargrave said. However, only Cleveland has fully recovered, with an occupancy rate at the end of the second quarter of 2012 at 92.1%. Still, seniors housing has largely been “recession resilient.”

Click here to watch an interview with John O’Connor and NIC head Robert Kramer.