One word describes Argentum’s 2021 list of the 150 largest providers in senior living: Disruption.
Acquisitions and divestitures across the industry resulted in several changes on the list: nearly 30 providers moved up or down 10 or more spots, or are new entrants.
Among the top 10 providers on the list, Atria Senior Living rose from seventh in 2020 to fourth this year, and grew even larger with its newly announced acquisition of Holiday Retirement, which occupied the No. 3 spot on the Argentum rankings.
The industry association’s list was compiled in partnership with real estate finance firm Lument, and totals 630,130 total units. The data reflects the size of organizations as of December 31, 2020.
The top three providers remain unchanged from last year. Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) retained its status as the largest senior living operator by a wide margin, even as the company has been reshaping its portfolio through a series of dispositions and restructuring under CEO Cindy Baier’s leadership. The Brentwood, Tennessee-based operator came in at 726 properties and 60,911 total units, the latter number representing a nearly 12% decrease from the 2020 list.
Des Moines, Iowa-based LCS is the second-largest provider with 35,397 total units, followed by Winter Park, Florida-based Holiday with 29,111 total units.
Brookdale is also the largest assisted living and memory care provider on the list, with 34,489 units and 9,796 units, respectively. Holiday is the largest independent living provider with 28,695 units, and LCS is the largest continuing care retirement community (CCRC) provider, with 95 campuses.
The top three providers on next year’s list will almost certainly be different. Atria’s announcement last week that it is acquiring the management services of Holiday Retirement will likely catapult the company past LCS for the second spot. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company’s portfolio totaled 25,000 units, prior to the Holiday deal.
Watermark Retirement Communities entered the top 10 at number 10, knocking out Capital Senior Living (NYSE: CSU), which fell to 14th.
Covid-19 did not dissuade several providers from growing in scale last year, according to the report — 17 providers moved up 10 or more spots on the list, and nine fell 10 or more spots.
Wickshire Senior Living made the largest jump on the list. The Brentwood, Tennessee-based provider leapt 53 spots, from 140th in 2020 to 87th on this year’s list. The company added 16 new communities to its portfolio last year, including 10 during the pandemic.
Wickshire hopes to grow to 60 communities over the next several years, Executive Vice President of Strategic Growth Casey Byrnes told Senior Housing News.
“While this may primarily be through acquisition, we are exploring development opportunities as well,” she said.
LCB Senior Living moved up 12 spots on this years list to 58th, compared to 70th in 2020. The Norwood, Massachusetts-based provider largely due to strong partners, a targeted growth strategy in the northeast U.S., and growth through value-add acquisitions, CEO and Managing Partner Michael Stoller told SHN.
“We also continue to develop and build, so some of our growth was from construction completion,” he said.
New entrants include real estate firm Lloyd Jones, with 228 independent living and 72 assisted living residences, good enough to close out the list at 150th. But the firm is a growing player in active adult senior housing, and if its portfolio of 55-plus age restricted communities were counted, it would have entered the list at 115th.
This highlights the ongoing difficulty of defining active adult senior housing, the report’s authors noted.
“While there are regulatory boundaries pertaining to services offered and age restrictions, innovations (and market strength) in 55+ continued even during the pandemic,” the report read.
Activity among health care real estate investment trusts (REITs) also informed this year’s list, exemplified by two of the largest REITs in the long-term care space.
Healthpeak Properties (NYSE: PEAK) successfully completed its divestiture of its rental senior housing portfolio in order to focus on high growth life science and medical office real estate, and its portfolio of 15 CCRCs — 13 of which are operated by LCS.
The Denver-based REIT sold 131 rental communities to buyers including Welltower and Omega Healthcare Investors (NYSE: OHI). The operators of these properties include Atria, Aegis Living, Sunrise Senior Living, Capital Senior Living, and LCS.
Healthpeak’s exit also paved the way for Discovery Senior Living to expand. Earlier this year, Discovery acquired 16 former Healthpeak properties — at more than 11,000 units, Discovery would crack the top 10 on the rankings.
Welltower has been in growth mode, which has fueled recent expansion for some providers. Notably, Pathway to Living recently added 22 communities to its portfolio through a transaction with the Toledo, Ohio-based REIT.