Charter Senior Living to Double Portfolio Size Through Ground-Up Development

Two-year-old provider Charter Senior Living plans to more than double the size of its portfolio in the next three years by switching its focus from acquisitions to ground-up developments.

This means that, ideally, Charter will have 30 communities that it owns, leases or manages on a third-party basis by 2021, Keven Bennema, the founder, president and CEO of the Naperville, Illinois-based company, told Senior Housing News. Currently, Charter has 12 such communities in seven states.

Throughout this growth process, Charter still plans to remain relatively picky.

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“When I started Charter, our whole focus was to be a boutique operating company that would also develop and be an opportunity to bring capital to the table,” he said. “We looked for those third party management opportunities that made sense for us geographically.”

At the same time, Charter isn’t necessarily in a race.

“Ultimately, we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew—but many opportunities are presented to us,” Bennema said.

Planned new developments

For now, Charter Senior Living is mostly done with acquisitions.

“On the acquisition front—with the exception of one or two more acquisitions that could occur by the end of this year—we’re kind of slowing down,” Bennema said. “The development side is starting to kick into gear.”

Charter’s first development—a 60-bed assisted living and memory care community—is scheduled to open in Sylvania, Ohio, in October. Other projects include:

—A project in Huntsville, Alabama, is set to break ground in September

—A community in the suburbs of Atlanta is projected to break ground within the next 60 days

—The groundbreaking for a community in Lexington, South Carolina, is planned for October

—A development is planned to break ground on Chicago’s North Shore this December

—A 48-bed memory care community in Akin, South Carolina, is set to open in April 2019

“We definitely have a lot of activity,” Bennema said. “We’re being very mindful of developing in markets we know well and where we have plenty of resources.”

Charter’s developments cost between $15 million and $50 million, he added.

Charter hopes to concentrate its senior housing footprint in the Midwest and Southeast, Bennema said, noting that’s where most of the company’s field resources are currently based.

It ‘isn’t a race’

Despite its growth plans, Charter is still a young company with an entrepreneurial bent.

“Every penny matters, and all of our resources are very precious,” Bennema said.

Charter has turned down “several” opportunities to acquire communities, and Bennema insists that the provider’s growth “isn’t a race.”

“[We want] to be very significant, and to treat our employees very well,” he said. “We want to have very methodical growth.”

The provider always wants to have “true skin in the game” at each of its communities, and it intends to have large ownership positions in each of its ground-up developments. Charter also plans to roll out a unique health and wellness program at its new communities.

“We are going to be looking to patent a lifestyle or care model that caters to true health and wellness programming and lifestyle choices for our residents,” he said.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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