Founded in 2019, Monarch Communities has quickly established itself as a vertically integrated senior living company, with a newly announced equity investment from real estate investment trust Welltower (NYSE: WELL).
The investment is a vote of confidence in a recently formed company from one of the largest institutions in the sector, but Monarch’s leaders think that the two organizations are not so different.
“Despite [Welltower] being a large, Fortune 500 company, they are extraordinarily entrepreneurial — we have regular conversations with them at the highest level,” Michael Glynn, managing partner with Monarch, told Senior Housing News.
Going forward, Welltower will have an exclusive first opportunity to work with Monarch on projects, and the REIT will be able to tap Monarch’s expertise across development, design and operations as needed.
“We’re kind of like the special operations to come in and fix some issues and also create and test some new ideas on some of our developments,” Glynn said.
The first of those developments is Monarch Cooper’s Corner, in New Rochelle, New York. And the two firms are also working together to reposition several Welltower properties in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
“Monarch’s turnkey business model will create a vertically integrated solution for all aspects of the senior living space — from sourcing opportunities, to design and construction, to operations and long-term ownership,” Welltower CEO Shankh Mitra said in a June 10 press release on the partnership.
Welltower did not disclose the dollar amount invested in Monarch.
A more cohesive approach
Monarch was founded by Glynn, Andrew Teeters and Ross Dingman. Their goal was to to draw on their experiences in a range of roles with various senior living organizations. In particular, they all are alumni of Brightview Senior Living and its development arm, The Shelter Group.
“Different groups do different pieces with senior housing … we’re able to control the entire process,” Teeters told SHN.
In addition to being able to control a project from site selection through operations, the team’s skillset will enable Monarch to be “nimble and opportunistic,” and take on a variety of projects rather than replicating a particular prototype, Glynn said.
For example, the Cooper’s Corner project is on an “unbelievable” but relatively small site in New Rochelle, so that building will be 72 units, Teeters explained. Meanwhile, Monarch has a development in the works in Boston and two in Maryland, and these will be in the 150-unit range with a full spectrum from independent living to memory care.
Monarch also has taken on operations of two buildings — one in New Jersey and one in Connecticut — that are under triple-net leases with Welltower.
Monarch is also working with Welltower on redeveloping some older buildings, with an eye toward serving the middle market. Future projects include a potential hotel-to-senior living conversion.
While Glynn acknowledges that Monarch “could be accused of being scattered,” he believes that the team will be able to succeed with an opportunistic approach — and, there are some unifying principles at play.
Monarch for the moment is primarily focused on the East Coast. And, communities will be wellness-focused, and Welltower’s partnerships with health systems and other organizations will be able in some instances to support this model. In particular, Monarch wants to extend the wellness focus to team members as well as residents.
“We see an opportunity to really take care of our staff, maybe better than we’ve seen in the past — really try to understand what can make a better workplace for them,” Glynn said. “[We intend to] design buildings that are not just for the residents, but also for the 70 to 100 people that might work there in any given week.”
Monarch expects to take on operations of a third building in the near future, and has about 10 sites under contract for development, Teeters said.
“In terms of our growth plans, we could be building anywhere from two to four a year,” he said. “We’re already looking at sites out into 2024, 2025 with our development opportunities.”
Having formed the company right before the pandemic struck, the Monarch team is eager to forge ahead now the partnership with Welltower — which was in the works prior to Covid-19 — is official.
“We are really excited about it,” Glynn said.
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