A relative newcomer to the senior housing industry is making a big push to expand its holdings beyond its home state of Texas. The company aims to build out its presence within some new markets, competing with luxury products but at a lower price point.
Dallas-based health care real estate development, management and investment firm Caddis recently announced it has begun developing its first Heartis senior living community in the state of Florida. The 182-unit independent living, assisted living and memory care community, Heartis Venice, is set to open in Venice, Florida sometime in the summer of 2020.
Heartis Venice exemplifies the kind of projects the firm is developing elsewhere across the country, according to Caddis CEO Jason Signor. The community is slated to offer high-end amenities such as a swimming pool, ocean views, walking paths, pocket parks, wellness center, beauty salon and barber shop, activity rooms and multiple dining venues, and all at a price point that’s closer to the middle-market than it is to the top one percent.
“We want to be the newest and best player providing the highest level of service that is competing with the luxury product,” Signor told Senior Housing News. “But we do not want to price ourselves out, so … we strive to be in the third quartile in pricing in every market we’re in.”
Caddis has embarked on a period of steady growth since it opened its first senior housing project in Texas less than a decade ago. Originally focusing on medical office buildings, Caddis dipped its toes into senior housing back in 2011, when the company opened a senior housing community in Murphy, Texas. Just a year later, the firm opened its first Heartis-branded property in Conroe, Texas.
“Our whole goal today really is to serve seniors and change their lives,” Signor said. “It started with clinics, and now we’ve moved into senior housing communities.”
Caddis currently has 15 Heartis communities open and another seven in development or under construction in six different states. As it stands today, the company’s pipeline targets $200 million to $300 million in annual new starts, at a pace of four or five communities a year. On the acquisition side, Caddis could purchase up to a billion dollars’ worth of senior housing assets in the next two or three years, Signor said.
“We want to make sure we have a minimum of five or six communities in a service area,” he said of the company’s overall growth strategy.
Most of the communities on tap for Caddis will offer independent living, assisted living and memory care services, with about 175 to 200 units apiece and amenities similar to the ones included in Heartis Venice. The Heartis brand itself is centered around four core attributes: community, celebration, luxury and fine dining. Caddis brings those tenets to life through a variety of ways, such as employing an in-house interior designer to outfit communities with such flourishes as granite countertops in the units, stonework finishes, artistic light fixtures and paintings.
As for the company’s operations, Caddis prefers a “modified hospitality model,” in which the company owns the brand and real estate, but hires third-party managers under a management agreement. The company currently works with such senior living operators as Pathway to Living, Frontier Management and Solvere Living.
“What we’ve gone about doing is developing a set of brand standards for Heartis, and then hiring a private-label basis manager to operate them,” Signor said.
Hiring and innovating
Like many senior living companies these days, Caddis places a premium on hiring and retaining the industry’s top talent. For example, the company advises its operating partners to hire workers with hospitality experience, especially on the dining side. And, it gives them some wiggle room when it sets the hiring budget.
“We pay up for the chefs in our market,” Signor said. “Our goal there is to make sure we have the highest-quality food service.”
The same philosophy goes for Caddis’ senior leadership, he added. But money isn’t everything. To that end, Caddis also aims to foster a unique and rewarding corporate culture to help attract new workers.
“People in this sector work not because of the money, they work because of the love of what they’re doing and the purpose,” Signor explained. “If you have the choice of working in a community that has a culture that takes a little extra care, and it’s a new, nice vibrant setting where residents are truly thriving, it makes it easier to join.”
While the responsibility of finding frontline staffers falls on the senior housing company’s operating partners, Caddis sets strong brand standards and gives them “every tool in the toolbox” to succeed, Signor said.
One of those tools is a resident engagement smartphone app called Heartis Store that Caddis is rolling out in January. Through the mobile app, family members can order gifts and care packages for their loved ones residing in a Heartis community.
“If you want to send your mother … a note or a warm plate of cookies or a flower, you have the ability to [do that] without having to contact a florist or a bakery,” Signor said. “It’s just another way to create a perk for the residents and their loved ones, and it allows us to have a chance to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.”
To help promote the app, Caddis plans to give out credits with every signed lease so residents or their loved ones can try it for free.
Written by Tim Regan