Belmont Village CEO: New Baptist Health JV a First for Senior Living

Senior housing operators partnering with health care providers is a growing industry trend. Belmont Village’s newly announced partnership with Baptist Health South Florida, however, may be the first of its kind.

The joint venture will develop a pipeline of Belmont Village communities, starting with the planned construction next year of Belmont Village Coral Gables. This marks the first time a health care system is taking an active involvement in building senior housing, Belmont Village founder and CEO Patricia Will told Senior Housing News.

The communities built by the JV will be operated under the Belmont Village banner, with Baptist Health retaining an ownership stake. Additionally, Houston-based Belmont Village now has access to Baptist Health’s systems, doctors and knowledge base, while Baptist Health has the opportunity to provide health services to Belmont Village residents at higher care levels.

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Baptist Health undertook a deliberate process to find an operating partner with shared compatibility in mission, goals and styles of doing business, before ultimately choosing to go forward with Belmont Village.

“[Baptist Health] recognized the opportunity to partner with seniors housing to both further their mission and invest in the sector,” Will said.

Lightning strikes twice

For Belmont Village, the partnership lays the foundation for rapid growth in an untapped market. With 10 hospitals, 50 outpatient and urgent care facilities and over 40 physician practices across Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties, Will calls Baptist Health the dominant health care provider in the region.

While the two groups will explore synergies in care, Belmont Village will continue to operate its communities with the quality quotient its residents and families have come to expect from the company.

Moreover, the partnership gives Belmont Village a competitive advantage in a high-demand market, and Will envisions a portfolio of communities very similar to what the operator has built in recent years in southern California.

Belmont Village’s SoCal portfolio includes seven communities in the greater Los Angeles area with another two in pre-development, one in Orange County, two in San Diego with another two in the pre-development stage. Will recently highlighted the close affiliation between Belmont Village and UCLA in an interview for Senior Housing News’ Transform podcast.

“We’ve completed our best year in southern California,” she told SHN on Tuesday.

Belmont Village believes the area from Palm Beach County south to the Florida Keys is comparable to southern California, and the partnership is scouting sites to develop.

“It’s difficult real estate to attain, but we’re on it and have been on it for quite some time,” Will said.

Sticking with what works

Although the Baptist Health partnership holds the potential for more integrated health care services, the JV’s developments will hew to the basic Belmont Village operating model.

“We run a hybrid of real estate, hospitality and care, and will continue to do so within the partnership,” Will said.

Mixed-use in high-density urban cores will be a prevailing trend. Belmont Village Coral Gables will include a retail component, in addition to being adjacent to that city’s downtown retail district, Will said.

“We’ve always loved mixed-use and believe our customers thrive adjacent to mixed-use or as a part of a mixed-use development,” Will said.

Future Belmont Village Florida communities will include a range of care levels — independent living, assisted living and memory care — all under one roof.

“This enables us to be a provider of choice for couples who don’t want to live in separate buildings and areas,” Will said, “and to do a great job for an age cohort rather than compartmentalize because of mobility issues.”

One trend Belmont Village and Baptist Health will not adopt — for now — is offering a Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare Advantage has been a component of other recent partnerships between health systems and senior living providers. For example, real estate investment trust Welltower (NYSE: WELL) forged a joint venture last year with nonprofit health system ProMedica, to acquire the large portfolio of former HCR ManorCare skilled nursing and senior living communities. ProMedica offers an MA plan, so this joint venture is a testing ground for seeing whether closer management on the senior living side can help keep beneficiary costs down and outcomes high.

Belmont Village is taking a wait-and-see approach to MA but it is studying how MA works, and is watching how it will pan out for other operators setting up programs.

“Currently, we don’t see it as a large part of the business because our customers do not opt for it,” Will said.

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