Big Rock Partners, a real estate investment management and development firm, has closed on a nine-acre land purchase from The Celebration Company, and plans to launch construction of a $60 million Class A senior living rental development within the Celebration community in first quarter 2015. Sabra Health Care REIT provided Big Rock Partners with $4.5 million financing for the land transaction and anticipates providing additional financing for construction, according to Big Rock Partners’ Senior Managing Principal Richard Ackerman. His company will create Celebration’s first community offering independent living, assisted living and memory care services, with a total of 225 rental residences and an array of first class amenities. Big Rock Partners will be developing the only site currently approved in Celebration for these types of services.
“The senior living industry is in flux, as the economy recovers and demand rises,” said Ackerman, who oversaw Apollo Real Estate Advisors’ West Coast and Japan investments before forming Big Rock Partners in 2006 as an opportunistic real estate investment firm. “Occupancy stayed relatively steady throughout the Recession, but many senior living communities built 25 or 30 years ago have not kept pace with the amenities and ambiance consumers now expect. Demand is strong nationwide for a new generation of rental alternatives to the traditional ‘buy-in’ continuing care retirement community (CCRC).”
Big Rock has assembled a best-in-class design and operational team to bring the development at Celebration to market, with completion projected for mid-2016. Architecture is by Perkins Eastman, a leading international senior living design and consulting firm, whose design portfolio includes continuum of care communities throughout the U.S. and countries including Japan, China and India. America’s third largest senior living management company, Life Care Services™, an LCS® company, will operate and market the community. Finance advisor is Walker & Dunlop.
“Sabra is very pleased to be a partner with Big Rock in this project,” said Sabra Health Care REIT CEO Rick Matros. “Richard Ackerman’s experience in senior housing is deep and impressive. Richard is committed to not only building a senior housing facility that is state of the art, but truly meets the needs of its residents in all respects.”
New, $50 million and up rental developments with choice locations and resort-style amenities are mitigating risk for institutional investors, Ackerman said, while appealing to consumers’ sophisticated tastes and financial realities. He added that Big Rock Partners has a second property under contract in Palm Beach County and is actively pursuing other “Class A” sites. The industry continues to perform very well, and interest from institutional investors continues to increase, according to Peter Muhlbach, Life Care Services senior vice president, director of senior living management.
“Institutional investors were not big players in the senior housing space until about two years ago,” explained Ackerman, who oversaw the successful turnaround of Summerville Senior Living, one of the nation’s largest assisted living companies and now part of Brookdale Senior Living, for Apollo Real Estate Advisors. “Now, with ample capital available, they’re taking a fresh look at new rental communities that include independent and assisted living plus memory care. At the same time, Baby Boomers are driving real changes in quality, choices and flexibility of senior living environments for their parents and, in future, for themselves.”
The community of Celebration just southwest of Orlando is a prime location for this emerging type of upscale senior living community, he added. Developed by The Walt Disney Company, Celebration has, since its founding in the mid-1990s, gained worldwide recognition as a highly successful example of New Urbanism principles, with diverse housing types for residents of all ages. ]]>
“Having equity investors like Richard Ackerman, with proven senior living expertise, is a strong benefit for the industry,” he said.
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