Real Estate Firm Beztak Plans Robust Senior Living Pipeline, Hires Former Tapestry CEO Kohler

Though senior living represents a small portion of Beztak Properties’ overall property holdings, which includes 35,000 market-rate apartment homes, it is a growing focus for the vertically integrated real estate firm.

The Farmington Hills, Michigan-based company has eight senior living communities in operation throughout Michigan, Florida and Arizona. That includes All Seasons Ann Arbor, an independent living community Beztak opened this month in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The company’s leaders in March hired Jason Kohler as executive vice president of senior living. Kohler previously worked as the CEO of Tapestry Senior Living, and he has also spent time at Five Star Senior Living (Nasdaq: FVE) and Life Care Services.

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All Seasons Ann Arbor has 156 units in one- and two-bedroom and two-bedroom cottage floor plans, with amenities such as three dining rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, an art studio with a kiln and an 80-person auditorium. Its design is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style of architecture, and the community is surrounded by a wooded area.

All Seasons Ann Arbor / Beztak Properties

Beyond its new opening in Ann Arbor, Beztak is planning a “robust pipeline” of senior living projects for its All Seasons brand, according to COO Elizabeth Carlson McCririe. Those plans include one community under construction in Michigan and two in development, one in New York and one in Florida. The company currently also is currently expanding one of its communities to add assisted living.

“Prior to All Seasons, if you wanted a level of luxury and independent senior living [in our markets], you were forced to move to the heavy upfront expense buy-in model,” McCririe told Senior Housing News. “We wanted to create an alternative to that, because we believe there were people out there that really wanted this.”

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All Seasons communities are centered around offering a high-end, lifestyle-focused experience, and many of its residents are “independent living by choice,” McCririe said. It is common for the company to bring in performers, such as musicians; or hold events, such as lectures or cooking demonstrations. Beztak also commissions custom artwork for its All Seasons communities.

“These communities are for people that are very much enjoying life,” she added. “It’s a discerning clientele. They’re used to the best, and we want to give them the best.”

Senior living is just one of the many product lines Beztak touches. In addition to its large multifamily apartment portfolio, the company also has holdings in the commercial sector. But while senior living represents just 10% of the company’s total unit count, about half of the company’s employees work in its communities.

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“So many operators and developers, especially those that are newer in the senior living space, have decided to pump the brakes a bit and step back from senior living [due to Covid-19],” McCririe said. “That is not our approach.”

Beztak’s confidence in the senior living space has to do with how it has fared during the pandemic so far. Well above 90% of the company’s residents are vaccinated, and the company is making progress on vaccinating its associates. Lead volumes and inquiries are also trending closer to pre-pandemic levels, if not higher in some markets due to pent-up demand.

“We typically see a 90-day lag time between leads and leases,” McCririe said. “The leads are there, we need the leases to follow — and they’re starting to.”

And while the company did see some operational disruptions due to the pandemic, it still performed in line with, and in some cases better than, the rest of the senior living industry, according to Kohler.

“The near-term is going to prove challenging for a lot of operators, because their attrition rates are going to go higher, their acuity went higher, and that impacts your labor and your cost of doing business,” Kohler told SHN. “We’ve stayed true to our promise to the residents and what we’re offering. I think it’s serving us well that we will come through stronger on the other side.”

Looking ahead, Beztak is focused on growing in markets where there is not only a strong or growing population of older adults, but also professional adult children.

“It’s my educated guess at this point that residents who saw a downturn in services through some operators during the pandemic may look at alternative housing options,” McCririe said. “As the dust continues to settle and vaccination levels increase, we’re hopeful that we will emerge successful in that space.”

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