Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) is offering a new glimpse of its recent renovations, redesigns and expansions — including an effort to meet the growing demand for memory care services.
The Brentwood, Tennessee-based company has completed more than 650 such projects since January, 2018, representing an investment of about $330 million in almost 300 U.S. communities. About 460 of those projects were started in 2019 alone.
A sizable number of those projects were undertaken as part of Brookdale’s ongoing “pardon our dust” capital expenditure (CapEx) campaign that CEO Cindy Baier described during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call earlier this year, according to Brookdale Senior Public Relations Specialist Mitch Kline.
“It’s all aligned with our strategic priorities, including earning resident and family trust, gaining endorsements and winning locally,” Kline told Senior Housing News. “Some projects included expansions, others were transitions from one care level to another, while others were simply updates and renovations.”
Since June, 2018, the provider added memory care programs, such as its Clare Bridge and Clare Bridge Crossings programs, to seven communities. Brookdale also plans to add memory care programs to eight more communities through 2021.
While the scope of the work widely varied from community to community, a new online “lookbook” from Brookdale shows some of what the nation’s largest senior living provider has been up to these past two years.
Many of the projects centered on meeting the rising demand for memory care services in different markets across the U.S.
For instance, Brookdale’s Skyline community in Colorado Springs, Colorado, expanded its memory care program with 68 new apartments as part of a $8.4 million project. Another community — Brookdale Chanate Santa Rosa, California — converted its entire 22-apartment fifth floor from assisted living to memory care under a $3.2 million project.
At Brookdale Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Arizona, the company spent $2.2 million in part to convert 25 assisted living apartments and five skilled nursing rooms into 20 memory care apartments. And, in Williamsburg, Virginia, Brookdale added a three-story assisted living and dementia care building with 60 new apartments as part of a $19.6 million project.
The new program and renovations helped Skyline stand out from its competitors, according to the community’s executive director, Micah Herold.
“There is a lot of competition, specifically for memory care in the Colorado Springs area,” Herold told SHN. “The renovations help give us an edge.”
As new senior housing supply has hit certain markets hard over the past several years, memory care in particular has been hard hit. As the sector begins to make a comeback, several providers have upgraded their offerings, including through CapEx investments.
At Brookdale Greenwood Village in Greenwood Village, Colorado, a $190,825 project is underway to refresh the community’s memory care area. When completed, the facelift will help entice prospective residents and their loved ones into moving in, according to Assisted Living Director Virginia Trujillo.
“I think the refresh will help the families here feel more value in what they are getting at our community,” Trujillo told SHN. “When you come in to tour a memory care community you want to be able to say, ‘This is what we’re getting for our money: not only great care and quality of life, but we want a place that looks good, too.’”
Brookdale Jackson Oaks in Jackson, Tennessee, is working to add a new memory care wing to its 166-bed campus. That project is set to cost more than $4.7 million, and open in the fall of 2020.
“It’s a well-needed level of care in the Jackson community,” Brookdale Director of District Operations Cherie Mason-Kennedy told SHN. “For us to be able to provide memory care is just going to be a win for everybody.”
While almost all of the work included renovations to common rooms and amenities, some projects focused on updating community aesthetics.
Brookdale San Marcos in San Marcos, California, got a new carpet and floors, a fresh coat of paint, new cabinetry, countertops, lighting, furniture, artwork and other upgrades for $1.5 million. At Brookdale Bloomington in Bloomington, Indiana, workers converted the entire community to LED lighting while also added new flooring, walls and other renovations for $142,000. And, at Brookdale Pecan Park in Arlington, Texas, the company built a new country kitchen and life skill area to replace a private dining room as part of a $240,000 renovation project.
Another community, Brookdale North Raleigh in Raleigh, North Carolina, recently started a $1.45 million update to its 19-year-old building, which has 240 independent living residents. The renovations will update all of the community’s floors and refresh its game, theater and dining venues. The work also included new carpeting and tile, and the removal of several walls.
“We’ve gotten a lot of compliments from prospective residents that have come in to tour the community,” North Raleigh Sales Director, Robbie Varnell told SHN. “There’s a good buzz going around the community with the residents. I think they are very excited and proud of the renovations we’ve made.”
All of this comes as Brookdale is in the midst of an operational turnaround and seeks to navigate industry headwinds, such as rising labor costs. As it has invested in upgrades across its portfolio, it has also continued to divest some communities and renegotiate its contracts with its real estate investment trust partners.
The operator seeks increase its average occupancy up to 89.5% by 2024, with a 7% net operating income (NOI) compound annual growth rate through that period, according to a five-year outlook released before its third-quarter earnings call in November.
Not all of the company’s recent changes are related to its properties. Brookdale this month hired Cindy R. Kent, a Best Buy board member and former 3M executive, to fill a new president of senior living role.