Zen Inspired Senior Living


Project Description

Kendal and San Francisco Zen Center have partnered to create a new type of community, designed for individuals 55 and over who wish to live and age together in an uplifting and enriching setting, with support for wellness, active engagement with the world, safety and continued learning. The community, which will nurture the practices of meditation and mindfulness, will be designed for a diverse population with wide-ranging needs and interests, and operated with a spirit of inclusion. A variety of wellness and fitness programs will be provided, and community members will organize virtually all aspects of social, cultural, intellectual and spiritual life.

We have explored several sites north of the Bay Area compatible with our plans to develop a community designed to meet the highest level of environmental responsibility. A team of professionals—including Greenbrier, a senior housing development company, architects, land-use experts, staff and board members from San Francisco Zen Center and Kendal, as well as financing partners—are fully engaged in developing a program that will be attractive to a diverse community.

Update: Site Selected

We are pleased to report that we have secured a site that is well suited to our new senior living community in Healdsburg, in Sonoma wine country. After an intensive process of due diligence over several months, we recently signed an agreement to purchase 15 acres from the landowner, who shares our vision for the community.

Thankfully the property was spared from the fury of the recent wildfires in Sonoma and Napa counties. Our hearts go out to all those whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by these events, and we share in the gratitude for the dedication and amazing stamina shown by the many firefighters and volunteers who met these fires with such bravery.

Our vision has been affirmed and informed by extensive research among those who expressed an interest in moving to a Zen-inspired community. We believe this will be a “first of its kind” opportunity. Kendal and San Francisco Zen Center are committed to a community rooted in the fundamental values of kindness and compassion and to creating a special place to “live lightly on the land” in a beautiful setting.

Residents will be invited to practice meditation in the centrally located meditation hall with Senior Zen practitioners, who will be in residence. Residents will have access to classes, workshops and retreats and will have the opportunity to garden and cook together. While the community will not be strictly vegetarian, an important aspect of community life will be a dining venue inspired by Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, which was started over 40 years ago by San Francisco Zen Center.

Over the past decade, residents and staff in more than a half dozen Kendal communities have adopted a variety of mindfulness-based practices—including meditation, yoga and tai chi—to reduce stress and enhance well-being.

The community will be designed to encourage aging in place. Assisted Living and Memory Support programs will be available for residents, if needed.

We are now in the process of finalizing our plans for this community and developing informational materials. Soon we will start scheduling seminars to provide interested parties with more specifics about our plans. More information about these educational events will be available soon.

We hope to begin construction in 2020 and anticipate opening in 2022. Meanwhile, we will post news here about ongoing developments as it becomes available.

Frequently Asked Questions

The way for SFZC to bring to the world a new model of aging –together, aware, with the flavor of Zen and opportunities for spiritual practice.

Zen values of respect, compassion, community, environmental responsibility and simple design will be expressed.

Supporting a spirit of inclusion is a core value of this community. Therefore, everyone is welcome without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law. Kendal communities also operate in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Yes. Currently assisted living and memory care programs are planned to meet the future long-term needs of residents. It is anticipated that skilled nursing services will be coordinated for residents with local, high-quality, and skilled nursing providers. Every effort will be made to offer services in the home.

Currently it is estimated that the preferred site can support between 200-250 apartments, 24 assisted living, and 30 memory support residences; however, the program and architectural drawings are preliminary at this point.

Homes and public spaces will be designed with principles of universal design. Our partner, Kendal, will provide memory care.

Yes, it will be a pet friendly community.

The specific amenities will be determined when the programming of the community is finalized. Information about amenities will be included in our ongoing communications about the project.

Daily sittings, classes, practice groups, lectures, and workshops will be available, although there will be no obligation to practice. There will be a meditation hall and retired Zen teachers will live in the community. In addition, it is anticipated that willing participants besides staff members (residents, for instance) will be trained in the practice of contemplative care.

Zen Inspired Senior Living will offer the chance to age together within a community of neighbors sharing values and a commitment to the environment, community, and practice. Plus, our food will be much better, the design of the common and private spaces will be simple and elegant, and care, as needed, will be provided by caregivers trained in compassionate care.

There is not yet enough information about the size of the residences, and what is included in the program yet to provide a price range at this time. This information will be communicated as soon as more details emerge from programming and planning.

It is anticipated that this will be an entrance fee Life Plan Community. The entrance fee is likely to be largely repayable in the future. Also, residents will pay a monthly fee for their home and services in this not-for-profit community.

We are responding to a demand we often hear from people wanting to live in such a community. In addition, SFZC has an obligation to retired monks for lifelong housing.

Kendal will manage the project. Kendal has over 50 years of experience with senior communities and is currently managing 14 wonderful communities.

The zendo and other offerings will be available to the public.

A generous donation of over $3 million is serving as seed money. There may be opportunities for friends of SFZC to invest equity in the project as well.

The community will be in Northern California.

You can sign up for more information through our online form

About San Francisco Zen Center
San Francisco Zen Center was established in 1962 by Japanese Zen priest, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and his American students. Suzuki Roshi is known to countless readers as the author of the modern spiritual classic, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Today, San Francisco Zen Center is one of the largest Buddhist sanghas outside Asia. It has three practice places: City Center, in the vibrant heart of San Francisco; Green Gulch Farm, whose organic fields meet the ocean in Marin County; and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center - the first Zen training monastery in the West in the Ventana Wilderness inland from Big Sur. These three complementary practice centers offer daily meditation, regular monastic retreats and practice periods, classes, lectures, and workshops. In the spirit of Beginner's Mind, Zen Center has long been a quiet force of cultural dynamism and change, with a dedicated history of reconsidering conventional wisdom and pushing the boundaries of cultural traditions and modes of thinking.

About Kendal
Kendal is a not-for-profit organization headquartered in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, where ground was broken for the first Kendal community in 1971. Kendal provides advice, leadership and support to the communities and services in eight states that make up the Kendal System, primarily by helping to develop and disseminate model practices, facilitate economies of scale and advance responsible growth. As a system of not-for-profit communities, programs and services founded on the principles of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Kendal aspires to transform the experience of aging, guided by Kendal’s Values and Practices.