Having laid a foundation for senior housing development, CA Ventures is now turning its attention to expanding its new operating company, Anthology Senior Living.
The move vertically integrates the Chicago-based real estate and developer’s senior living line, and charts a course for rapid expansion through acquisitions and development, CA Senior Living President Ben Burke told Senior Housing News.
The Chicago-based real estate developer and investor quietly launched Anthology last year with a handful of communities in Connecticut, Ohio and Texas. It expanded the portfolio to 18 communities last month with the acquisition of a 12-property portfolio from Kansas City, Missouri-based NorthPoint Development, transitioning those communities from the Stonecrest brand to Anthology.
CA Senior Living also began construction last month of Anthology of King of Prussia, an 11-story, 192-unit retirement community in Wayne, Pennsylvania. This is the first senior housing community within a larger mixed-use development, The Village at Valley Forge.
CA Senior Living launched in 2015, focusing on site acquisition and new development in markets with a supply-demand imbalance. It was always CA Senior Living’s intention to have development and operations under one umbrella, Burke said. But it made sense to establish the development arm first.
“It’s difficult to set up a development and operating company at the same time,” he said. “We chose to start the development company first, knowing we would eventually launch the operating arm.”
The best senior housing has not yet been created. We want to remain ahead of the curve.
CA Senior Living Executive Vice President Carrie Traetow
Building the right team
To head Anthology, Burke hired Carrie Traetow as executive vice president in September 2017.
Traetow was most recently chief operating officer of RCS Management, now known as LivGenerations, where she had total oversight of that firm’s senior housing portfolio in Arizona, which today numbers four properties. Prior to that, Traetow spent three years as vice president of operations at Chicago-based Enlivant Senior Living, which is one of the largest U.S. providers at about 240 communities.
A 20-year senior living veteran, Traetow cites her experience at all levels of her career as setting the stage to build Anthology into a national brand.
“Having the opportunity to build a team, take all of the best practices I’ve learned across all the portfolios, communities and from leaders, and create your own recipe to build something best in class was wildly enticing to me,” she said.
With Traetow in the fold, CA Senior Living spent the next 12 months building Anthology’s policies and procedures, ensuring its success as an institutional-level operator, Burke said.
The company worked on the backbone of Anthology’s business model — policies and procedures, training protocols, legal formation, systems and management. This allowed Anthology to launch as a fully formed, ready-to-go operator from day one versus incrementally building the operator over time.
“We didn’t want to build a plane while it was in the air,” Burke said. “We’re looking to have it fully certified and checked out before we took our first flight.”
An ambitious growth strategy
That diligence came with a short-term price tag.
Burke allowed that CA Senior Living spent “millions” building out the executive team and putting the business model in place before it even saw a cent of management revenue. But he is convinced it positioned Anthology for immediate success and for being able to build in scale quickly with deals like the Stonecrest portfolio acquisition.
Moving forward, CA Senior Living plans to develop six to eight properties per year in high barrier to entry markets exhibiting intentional population growth, Traetow said.
The company is very bullish on coastal markets, as it sees higher barriers to entry there and untapped demand for senior housing. Anthology’s portfolio would be high-end, private pay independent living, assisted living and memory care.
CA Senior Living’s acquisition plans are equally as ambitious. It wants to take a “thoughtful” approach to acquisitions and is targeting six to eight properties per year, in markets where the company also would be comfortable building, Burke said.
Anthology’s portfolio will not include the portfolio CA Senior Living and Goldman Sachs developed in 2016 that marked its entry into the senior living industry.
Those 14 properties are operated by Chicago-based Senior Lifestyle. CA Ventures also has operating relationships with Chicago-based operator Pathway to Living;Louisville, Kentucky-based Atria Senior Living; and Carlsbad, California-based Integral Senior Living.
“We plan to uphold all [third-party] management agreements to the extent they are performing well,” Burke said.
We didn’t want to build a plane while it was in the air. We’re looking to have it fully certified and checked out before we took our first flight.
CA Senior Living President Ben Burke
CA Senior Living intends to use the data mining, reporting, marketing and operations that have become cornerstones of CA Ventures’ other verticals to grow the brand, Traetow told SHN. Future Anthology communities may be part of larger, mixed-use developments featuring CA Ventures’ other verticals, and Burke noted there are huge synergies to be gained and/or leveraged from those other verticals, as they’ve been integrated longer.
As health care management and delivery continues to evolve from acute care to wellness and prevention, the company plans to make large investments in technology to create what she calls a “high-tech, high-touch environment.”
“The best senior housing has not yet been created,” Traetow said. “We want to remain ahead of the curve.”
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