Senior housing operators want their communities to possess an “it” factor: Something that catches future residents’ interest and persuades them to move in. For Federal Way, Washington-based Village Concepts, the “it” factor may come in the form of former NBA player Brian Scalabrine.

Scalabrine, who has played for the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets and is affectionately known as “The White Mamba,” has partnered with Village Concepts to build its newest community—The Adriana—on his land in Des Moines, Washington.

“Des Moines is a diamond in the rough, affordable and close to the water,” Scalabrine told Senior Housing News. “There’s a need for affordable senior housing, so we’re providing that need.”

The new community, named after Scalabrine’s daughters Adria and Elliana, is anticipated to open its doors March 2017. The five-story, 101,427-square-foot building will have 119 units and be available to seniors earning 60% or less of the area’s median income.

It’s not everyday that a former NBA player gets into the senior housing sector. And it’s unusual to find a partner—athlete or otherwise— who is so involved in the development process, Dave Baus, the development coordinator at Village Concepts, told SHN.

“It is a rare opportunity to be involved with a landowner who actually cares about seniors and is willing to walk with the developer,” Baus explained. “It was nice to see an owner take interest.”

Scalabrine became acquainted with Village Concepts through a friend, who introduced him to Chief Financial Officer Peter Jorgensen. At the time, Village Concepts was looking to expand its portfolio of 15 independent living, assisted living and memory care facilities across Washington state, and Scalabrine was looking to develop his plot of land in Des Moines.

Without Scalabrine, the land, which is a few blocks away from the city’s marina, would have cost more, Baus explained.

“The landowner in this deal has made it so the project can happen,” he added. “The site is an excellent site.”

Andy Langsford of Bellevue, Washington-based Venture Real Estate Group is one of Scalabrine’s investment partners. The team for The Adriana project is led by Jeffrey J. Hummel Architects of Seattle, and CG Engineering and Emerald City Engineering are the project’s engineers.

The value Scalabrine’s name brings to the community is not lost on Village Concepts.

“I think having a caliber name athlete brings strength to the project,” Baus told SHN. Scalabrine is well known in the area, too; he attended Highline College in Des Moines, he’s involved in the community of Enumclaw, Washington, where he grew up, and “he’s out there in the sports world.”

“He brings awareness to the project,” Baus explained. Already, Village Concepts has had three people who said they’ve wanted to move in to The Adriana.

For Scalabrine, the decision to go ahead with the investment is both practical and personal.

Des Moines has a special place in Scalabrine’s heart. His wife grew up about a mile and a half away from The Adriana site, and her parents still live nearby. He used to take his wife on dates by the water. He has felt for years that the area is underutilized, and could be better than it is.

This may not be the last the senior housing industry sees of Brian Scalabrine.

“I really like the sector, and I love working with Village Concepts,” he said.

Baus likely wouldn’t mind the chance to work with Scalabrine again.

“He’s as cool as they get,” he said.