Bridgewood Property Group President and Retirement Center Management CEO Jim Gray is launching a new senior living management company.
The new Houston, Texas-based operator, The Aspenwood Company, was created to “meet the evolving needs of [Bridgewood’s] current as well as future developments and acquisitions,” according to a press release on the launch.
“Our main primary focus going forward is luxury senior living, independent living, assisted and memory care,” Gray told Senior Housing News Thursday. “In order to fully service it correctly, we decided to form a new company.”
The new Houston, Texas-based operator is launching with a portfolio of 16 properties in four states under management or development. It is separate from Gray’s other management company, Retirement Center Management, which focuses on middle-market community management; as well as Bridgewood.
Aspenwood is serving as Bridgewood’s primary operating affiliate going forward.
“Bridgewood property company is the owner and developer of the properties, and then we hire our management company, The Aspenwood Company, to manage our properties for us,” Gray said.
At the helm of the new company is industry veteran Heather Tussing, who is leading the new organization as president with an eye on future development and acquisitions. Tussing previously oversaw a portfolio of 38 senior living communities in the U.S. South and Midwest as COO Morning Pointe Senior Living. She leads a team of about 30 people.
“We were looking for someone who had a really strong operating background, particularly in handling assisted living and memory care,” Gray said. “We offered her a position with us and said, ‘We’d like you to strengthen our portfolio. fill our buildings up. get the operating margins improved and help us grow our portfolio.’”
Gray said the goal is to double the Aspenwood portfolio of senior living communities over the next five years.. That is in addition to plans for steady future development at a rate of “one or two” communities under construction at a time in a given year, Gray said..
“We’re always searching for new opportunities and new markets,” he added..
One challenge for senior living projects in 2022 is the high cost of certain goods and services, such as labor and construction materials. But that won’t deter Gray, who noted that it takes generally five years from site identification to construction completion.
“We have to have a long term perspective and we are continuing to plow ahead even during cycles that are up and down, ” he stressed. “We’re continuing our business going straight forward as usual.”
That laser-focus extends to Gray’s vision for future communities under the Aspenwood brand, breaking down to an approximate split of 70% IL, 30% AL, with some memory care. His long-term goal is to allow future residents to stay in the community and receive care as they progress in acuity and age.
Focusing on a luxury product was essential to the Aspenwood model, with Gray saying any future development would look to attract local residents who have lived in their communities for years as a way to maintain strong name recognition and local prestige. That, mixed with a looming baby boomer demographic surge into senior living, makes now a time ripe for future growth.He added that the next two decades may be the “best years in regards to demand” in the industry.
“We think the future of senior living has never been better,” Gray said. “We’re excited about it and there’s a big need out there and we are trying to fill a little niche of it.”
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