Senior Housing Newcomer Targets Secondary Markets for Regional Pipeline

Some senior living developers are candidly taking on the toughest markets for development, where they know demand for senior housing will always be strong based strictly on demographics coupled with high barriers to entry for providers.

But one southeastern developer that launched a senior housing company last year is taking a different approach.

Dominion Senior Living, founded by a longtime multifamily developer and manager in 2014, has one operational community in Sevierville, Tennessee and just recently opened another community in Johnson City in late July.


And over the course of the next year, it plans to open between eight and 10 new communities with an anticipated $75 million in development costs, all in secondary markets located in the southeastern United States including Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina, to start.

“We are going into secondary markets where we feel like the competition isn’t as strong and where grass roots marketing [can really work for us],” Dominion Senior Living Vice President Josh Crisp tells SHN.

The organization is non-denominational and faith-based, which also gives it a distinctive appeal from construction to move-in in the markets where it is developing, the company says.


“This is in everything we do from development to construction and programming, to not only minister to the physical needs of residents but also the spiritual needs,” Crisp says. That includes employees as well as residents.

So far, the concept seems to be proving itself, he says, through metrics like lower employee turnover than the industry average, and a 60-bed memory care community that is 75% occupied one year after opening. It anticipates its occupancy becoming stabilized after 12 to 14 months on the 84-unit assisted living and memory care community it plans to open next week.

But the endeavor is not without challenges, especially in a market where many multifamily developers are entering with funds to build big into senior living.

“We are seeing a lot of developers enter and many don’t have that much experience,” Crisp says. “Having seasoned folks in leadership will position us going forward…in our market research we really analyze the markets and make sure it’s going to be a great fit for our prototype. We only go in where we are going to flourish.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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