Integral Senior Living, Legendary Partner to Create Campus-Style Communities

Developer Legendary Living and Integral Senior Living (ISL) — one of the nation’s largest operators — have forged a strategic partnership and are embarking on a pipeline of resort-style projects.

Over the course of five decades, Destin, Florida-based Legendary Companies has created more than $3 billion in real estate development projects, including resorts, hotels, retail, multifamily housing, marinas and golf course communities. The firm launched Legendary Living in 2017. 

It didn’t take long for Legendary to attract the attention of established senior living operating companies. Jackson, Mississippi-based The Blake will operate the first Legendary Living property, located just east of Destin in Miramar Beach. And after learning of Legendary’s ambitions in the senior living space, leaders with Carlsbad, California-based ISL soon got in touch.

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“The relationship started out with a phone call,” Steve Griggs, EVP, director of real estate development for the Legendary Family of Companies, told Senior Housing News.

Following that first phone call and a subsequent in-person meeting, the relationship between ISL and Legendary prospered thanks to the organizations’ similar values and vision, Griggs said.

The partnership with ISL aligns Legendary with an experienced operator of significant scale. Integral Senior Living is one of the 20 largest U.S. operators, with a portfolio encompassing about 80 communities across 22 states.

The first project for ISL and Legendary is a senior living campus in Montgomery, Alabama. Starling was initially tapped to operate this community, and though Griggs “thinks the world of Starling,” ISL stepped in for several reasons, including familiarity with the Alabama market, experience with similar campus projects, and the larger ambitions for ISL and Legendary to do multiple deals together.

Legendary Living Montgomery is slated to include 50 age-restricted cottages, 64 independent living units and 48 assisted living units, with 24 allocated to memory care.

Griggs believes the cottages will provide an appealing alternative to traditional age-targeted or single-family housing communities, where older adults often face difficult situations when they need more robust care. At that point, they must either bring in home care or move to a different senior living community. But, this forces them to “leave all their friends,” Griggs said.

The cottages should provide an entry point for individuals who might not be ready to live in the large “mothership” building of IL/AL units, while their location on campus will make it easy for cottage residents to tap into lifestyle engagement and ultimately care services.

The cottages also make sense in light of Covid-19, Griggs believes. Many older adults have experienced loneliness and difficulties related to care as a result of the pandemic, and yet they also are more fearful of moving into communal settings where the virus could spread. The cottages could be the ideal solution, providing a level of isolation while also being embedded within a supportive community.

“It’s a win-win,” Griggs said.

Planned amenities for Legendary Living Montgomery include an outdoor pool with cabanas, multiple dining venues, auditorium and theater, game room, fire pit, walking trails, bocce and pickleball courts, dog park, putting green and yoga lawn.

Rendering of Legendary Living Montgomery, courtesy Legendary Living

While a continuum-of-care campus is a well-established approach to senior living, Legendary Living Montgomery will be on a rental model and will not charge entrance fees or have a skilled nursing component, which are typical of traditional continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). Despite having resort-caliber amenities, Griggs is confident that rental rates will be “very competitive” in every market that Legendary/ISL venture into, saying Legendary has particular expertise in developing projects that blend luxury and accessibility at a price point similar to other senior living projects within the market area. ISL, meanwhile, has the necessary know-how to operate a high-end hospitality product while also delivering high-quality health care.

“Cementing our relationship with Legendary and bringing ISL’s culture to Montgomery and its terrific people was an extremely exciting opportunity for us,” Collette Gray, Integral Senior Living’s president and CEO, said in a press release issued Monday. “We’ll be offering a full slate of living options coupled with a stunning community to ensure our Montgomery residents truly are living their best lives.”

The plan is for other ISL-Legendary projects to be built on a similar model as the Montgomery community, in terms of care levels and amenities. The two companies are currently in some phase of due diligence on seven to 10 opportunities, concentrated in the Southeast and up through the middle of the country.

The intention is for ISL — through its ISL Ventures arm — to contribute some equity to each project. Banks and other financial institutions increasingly want to know that the operator has some skin in the game, Griggs noted.

Legendary is open to working with other operators, but believes the ISL partnership will “keep our plate full,” he added. Meanwhile, as the pipeline of future projects takes shape, Legendary is also focused on making the first communities a success.

The Miramar Beach community is currently in dry-wall phase and is generating inquiries, with a planned completion late this year. And the Montgomery project is moving forward as well. Arrive Architecture is the architect and EMJ Construction has been tapped as the general contractor. EMJ has extensive experience building senior living communities, with Anthology Senior Living and Senior Lifestyle Corp. communities among others in its portfolio. Construction on Legendary Living Montgomery is scheduled to begin later in 2020, with an opening in late 2022.

“We can’t wait to get started,” Griggs said.

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