The demand for affordable senior housing is growing rapidly. But successfully operating this asset class is challenging, as a large facility in the Lone Star State found.
Westchester Plaza in Fort Worth, Texas—the largest assisted-living facility for Medicaid recipients in the state—will be closing its doors after 19 years later this summer, giving residents until Aug. 10 to find new living arrangements, the Associated Press reported.
The closing of the facility comes on the heels of several years’ worth of budget deficits, according to owner Doug Sweeney.
The nonprofit controlled by Sweeney, WGH Heritage, reported a more than $2 million deficit in its most recent tax filing; the organization also reported multi-million dollar deficits in 2014 and 2013.
The company faced even more financial struggles beforehand, as it defaulted on its loans and had to reconstruct $20 million in debt backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In 2014, a deal fell through between the company and Irvine, California-based real estate investment trust (REIT) HCP Inc. (NYSE: HCP), which had plans of buying the property to build a $108.6 million combined residential/commercial development in its place.
The 12-story building, located at the center of Fort Worth’s medical district, has operated as an assisted living community since 1998, with many residents classifying as low-income, intellectually or physically disabled adults. The facility has been advertised as “affordable luxury assisted living,” with each resident occupying a one-bedroom apartment.
Despite this selling point, the facility faced operational issues as it was handed a lawsuit based on complaints that it did not have a proper sprinkler system for eight months in 2012, according to Tarrant County district clerk records. As a result, WGH Heritage shelled out $30,000 in civil penalties to the Texas attorney general’s office to settle the suit.
The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services also investigated complaints against the facility in 2012. Most recently, state regulators investigated a complaint in March, finding that the facility had “failed to follow its internal policies regarding the prevention, detection and reporting of abuse, neglect or exploitation.”
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The closing of Westchester Plaza also comes at a time when real estate in the local area is in high demand by residential developers, according to Sweeney.
Written by Carlo Calma