Eclipse Launches New Independent Living Brand in 15-Community Deal

Eclipse Senior Living is beefing up its independent living side in a management deal with Apollo Global Management that includes 15 properties and the launch of a new senior living brand.

The Lake Oswego, Oregon-based company said Monday it had taken on the management of 15 Apollo communities formerly operated by Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) and scattered across Florida, Washington, Texas, West Virginia, Ohio, North Dakota, Illinois, New York, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Oregon and Wyoming — plus two more set to come on board in November.

Eclipse will package five of those new communities under its new independent living brand, Embark by Eclipse Senior Living (pictured above). The rest will be added to the provider’s existing Elmcroft portfolio, which focuses on assisted living and memory care. The deal grows Eclipse’s total senior living management portfolio to 101 communities across 27 states.

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Earlier this year in January, Eclipse assumed management of 76 private-pay senior housing communities owned by Ventas (NYSE: VTR). Eclipse Senior Living is jointly owned by the Chicago-based real estate investment trust (REIT), which has a 34% stake in the company. Eclipse management owns the remaining 66%.

With the Embark and Elmcroft names in tow, Eclipse is now a multi-brand senior living provider — a major goal for the company, according to CEO Kai Hsiao, who joined Eclipse upon its formation about a year ago following leadership positions with Holiday Retirement, HCP (NYSE: HCP) and several hospitality organizations.

In some ways, the senior living provider is starting to resemble a large hotel company, with multiple brands in its wheelhouse geared toward specific kinds of consumers.

“Coming from the hospitality side, [we] have different brands that speak to different target markets,” Hsiao told Senior Housing News. “We felt the same application would apply in senior housing. Having multiple brands is important.”

Brand building

The new Embark brand will focus on middle-market independent living options for older adults, and will be priced “competitively,” Hsiao said. Though the provider will start with just five communities under the Embark banner, the overall plan is to add more in the future.

“Having an independent living brand … was one of our goals from the outset,” Hsiao said. “You just manage them differently and you have different operational goals for each [brand].”

Meanwhile, Eclipse will continue to beef up its Elmcroft portfolio where opportunities arise. And the company likely will add more high-end brands to its overall senior living portfolio in the future.

“Embark is your middle-market independent living-only brand, and Elmcroft is your middle-market assisted living and memory care brand,” Hsiao explained. “As we begin to evolve, you’ll probably see an upscale independent living brand, and an upscale assisted living and memory care brand down the road.”

The senior housing industry is 10 and 20 years behind the multifamily and hospitality sectors, respectively, in terms of structure and innovation, Hsiao said. With that in mind, it makes sense for a senior living provider such as Eclipse to follow the hospitality industry’s lead on some things.

“If you look at the hospitality industry, they’ve been very efficient in providing shared services from a support center standpoint,” he explained. “They can share things such as accounts payable, HR, and marketing, but then be able to support multiple brands, sort of like Hilton does.”

Hsiao added: “It’s all coming from the same back-office support center, so you can leverage efficiencies that way. We see that same vision with Eclipse, in terms of supporting multiple brands.”

In its operating model, Eclipse has so far placed a high priority on creating a tech-forward operating platform in order to attract a more diverse group of consumers to senior housing. That should continue into the future as the company seeks to add more communities to its portfolio and build relationships with new and old partners.

Moving forward, the company will continue to scale up as it has since it first started to come together roughly one year ago. For Hsiao, who worked as the CEO of Holiday Retirement from 2013 to 2015, scaling isn’t as daunting of a task as it might normally be for a less experienced senior living operator. And he’s joined in the C-suite by his former Holiday colleague Shamim Wu, who is Eclipse’s COO.

“Having come from Holiday with 300-some communities, scale is something we’ve done before,” Hsiao said. “Not to say that it hasn’t been a lot of work, but the good thing is, we’ve been there, done that.”

Written by Tim Regan

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