The founder of a successful senior living provider is serving as co-owner of a brand new operator that is setting its sights on a pipeline that will start with 21 new assisted living sites currently under development.
First & Main, the new senior living operator, is in part the brainchild of Thrive Senior Living Founder and Principal Jeramy Ragsdale, and Granger Group Founder Gary Granger. The new company, based in Atlanta, is an entirely separate entity, but will take some cues from the lessons learned at Thrive, as the “offspring” of Thrive and the Granger Group—a Michigan-based developer of senior housing communities that has committed to a billion dollars in development over the next several years.
And the new company is also taking an entirely new approach to its development pipeline including a focus on branding from its onset.
“First and Main, from a consumer standpoint, is targeted at keeping the senior at the center of everything—from the daily commute to the grocery store and Starbucks,” Ragsdale tells SHN. “From a real estate standpoint, this is just good real estate. It is right at the corner of ‘First and Main.’”
The geographical focus for First & Main is the upper Midwest, including Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, with sites targeted specifically at urban, mixed-use developments. The geography is distinctly different from that of Thrive Senior Living, which is concentrated in the southeast and Texas. First & Main, the new operating company, will offer private-pay assisted living and memory care services with some innovations that have “literally never been done before,” Ragsdale says. Most communities will have roughly 100 units.
The company’s memory care services will span a tiered approach including “dementia light” for those clientele whose needs fall between assisted living and full memory care.
The Granger Group is co-owner and developer and has worked in the senior living space for more than 30 years, including the recent development of a 200-acre health care village in Michigan. An institutional investor has committed financing to the First & Main pipeline, though the operator declined to comment on the development dollars that have been committed. The financing partner declined to be named, though Ragsdale says it is a company not new to the senior living space, but has not yet invested to this degree.
Likewise, a new board has been constructed to lead the endeavor, which Ragsdale says will be very mission-driven, despite being a for-profit entity. Hiring for executives as well as community employees is under way.
“We’re drilling down and focusing on sustainability,” he says, noting the approach is not to develop and then sell off the communities once their operations and occupancy have been established. “We will own these buildings for a long time.”
The investment in the communities includes funds that are set aside upfront for major building updates that will be needed in the future—a decision that stems from a trend in senior housing for operators to update infrequently; which often leads to buildings that can’t remain relevant after three to five years, Ragsdale says.
The first group of communities are under way, with 21 that are currently under development or construction. The first will open in July 2015 in Wyoming, Michigan, with the next 20 planned to open from November 2015 through June 2016.
But that is only the beginning for the fledgling provider.
“This is one of the most focused brand rollouts that has been done to date,” Ragsdale say.
Written by Elizabeth Ecker