Merrill Gardens will go into 2020 a larger company with a new capital partner, thanks to a joint venture with ReNew REIT to acquire a 26-property portfolio of assisted living and memory care communities.
The portfolio previously was owned by New Senior Investment Group (NYSE: SNR). On Nov. 1, the New York City-based REIT announced that it had sold the portfolio for $385 million. Toledo, Ohio-based ReNew was identified as the buyer in a subsequent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Today, Seattle-based Merrill Gardens announced that it struck a joint venture with an affiliate of ReNew to co-own the properties. Merrill Gardens did not disclose its ownership stake in the JV. The transaction is targeted to close in the first quarter of 2020.
This move expands Merrill Gardens’ portfolio of owned communities to 56 properties across 17 states.
Last week, the provider announced that it had acquired operating company Blue Harbor Senior Living from private equity group Fortress for an undisclosed sum. Blue Harbor operated 15 of the 26 properties in the newly acquired JV portfolio.
Merrill Gardens is planning to operate the Blue Harbor buildings at a middle-market price point under a new brand name still being developed.
The other 11 buildings in the JV portfolio ultimately will be operated by Merrill Gardens, and they will be brought onto the company’s platform on a “calculated schedule” after the transaction closes, Blue Harbor CEO and incoming Merrill Gardens President Tana Gall told Senior Housing News. Through the integration process, Merrill Gardens will determine which brand each community will operate under.
Prior to joining Blue Harbor in 2016, Gall served as president of Merrill Gardens between 2013 and 2015. So, her appointment as president marks a homecoming of sorts, and this transaction with ReNew brings another familiar face back into the Merrill Gardens orbit.
ReNew CEO George Chapman, who founded the REIT in 2017, previously was CEO of Toledo, Ohio-based HealthCare REIT between 1996 and 2014. During his tenure, Merrill Gardens worked closely with HealthCare REIT, which now is known as Welltower (NYSE: WELL). Notably, Merrill Gardens and HealthCare REIT hammered out the first RIDEA relationship in the industry, in 2010.
“We are pleased to partner with such a respected leader in seniors housing and bring these communities into our collective portfolios,” Chapman said in a press release issued today. “Our successful track record with Merrill Gardens gives us great confidence that this new partnership will significantly advance ReNew’s mission of improving community-based living for seniors.”
Gall said she enjoyed working with Chapman and his team during her previous time with Merrill Gardens.
“They’re good people and, more importantly, fun people,” she told SHN. “We’re on the same team, trying to make a great company.”