Access Industries Acquires Majority Stake in JEA Senior Living

Access Industries, a New York-based investment firm, has acquired a majority stake in Vancouver, Washington-based JEA Senior Living.

In March 2019, Access purchased 10 JEA communities in Washington, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee and Indiana. Now, Access has invested in the JEA management company as part of an effort to expand its ownership and management of senior housing across the country, JEA Chief Strategy Officer Micah Gerber told Senior Housing News.

Gerber declined to disclose the acquisition price but described it as a large financial commitment to the senior living space.

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JEA currently has a portfolio of more than 50 communities and specializes in standalone memory care — a sector of senior housing that has suffered from cratering occupancy rates in recent years, due to an influx of new supply and other factors.

Gerber did not share JEA’s overall occupancy rate, but said that it varies across the portfolio.

The JEA leadership team, including CEO Cody Erwin, will remain in place.

“Demand for our communities will rise in the coming years, and Access is well positioned to help us reach potential new residents while maintaining the high standards we have set for ourselves,” Erwin said in a press release issued Thursday.

The standard JEA building is 66 beds, with about a third shared or double occupancy, a third Jack-and-Jill style rooms with a shared bathroom, and a third private, Gerber said.

“We believe that works well from a marketing perspective, because people have different views on how they want their loved one’s unit to be,” he said. 

Acquisitions will likely be a bigger driver of future growth than development in the near term. The company is agnostic in terms of what locations it is interested in, but historically has been focused on secondary and tertiary markets. There are no stated goals in terms of expanding to a particular scale within a set timeframe.

“There’s generally less competition, and it allows us to deliver care at a lower price point,” Gerber said. He estimates average rates to range between $4,800 and $5,200 a month.

Access is interested in expanding its presence in needs-based senior living, outside skilled nursing, so assisted living could be on the table as a future growth area. This could take the form of joint ventures with other operators.

“Access Industries has always delivered value to the communities we serve, and this partnership will position us to better meet the needs of this growing and important demographic,” Jonah Sonnenborn, managing director and head of real estate at Access Industries, said in Thursday’s news release. “As retirees live longer, we will do all that we can to ensure that they enjoy a secure, comfortable and productive lifestyle.”

Founded in 1986, Access has holdings in natural resources and chemicals; media and telecommunications; real estate; and venture capital/technology. The firm is a long-term holder, not interested in making a typical three- to five-year private equity style exit, Gerber said.

“It’s a permanent capital source,” he said.

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