Spurred by a recent six-property addition and an optimistic outlook on demand, Peregrine Senior Living is seeking to expand in the Northeast.
In January, Sculptor Real Estate acquired a 16-community portfolio of senior living communities in a joint-venture deal with Peregrine, which is managing six communities in the Northeast. With the deal, the Syracuse, New York-based company now operates 16 communities in New York, Connecticut and Maryland.
The transaction fits within Peregrine’s strategy of growing within its existing footprint through acquisitions and some new development where it makes sense, according to President Stephen Bowman.
“We’re not afraid to travel, but we just think there’s such a need in our backyard,” said Bowman. “And it’s easier to provide care if you’re a two-hour car ride away, rather than a six or seven-hour drive.”
Peregrine is taking a regional focus for a few reasons — chief among them the licensing process, which can be difficult for operators opening communities in unfamiliar states.
With years of operational experience, Peregrine has developed working relationships with licensing bodies such as the New York State Department of Health. The operator also has experience operating in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Colorado.
So, when Sculptor Real Estate sought an operator for the Northeastern portion of its newly acquired portfolio, Bowman said Peregrine stood out.
“They needed an operator that could get licensed [in the state of New York] in a timely fashion,” Bowman told Senior Housing News. “And because we have 25 years of experience with the New York Department of Health, they were confident we could make that happen.”
Peregrine is currently in the process of acquiring relevant licenses for its newly added communities, something that Bowman expects the operator will complete soon.
Peregrine has been involved in some unique communities in the past, such as the first dedicated assisted living and memory care community on a Native American reservation. The company also includes a nondenominational chapel in each of its locations.
Over the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted many senior living operators, and Peregrine is no exception., The operator saw its operating margin drop from approximately 30% or more before the pandemic to about 15% currently, according to Bowman.
Even so, the company is optimistic about the future. In particular, he believes the coming years will uncork a torrent of demand, given the number of older adults who are due to reach average senior housing resident age in the coming years.
“I think that demand is coming back and I think that vacancies are going to be absorbed,” Bowman said.
While demand appears to be rebounding and average occupancy rates are climbing in many markets, ongoing labor challenges are still making life hard for the industry.
Peregrine is seeing the same labor issues as the industry at large, and the company is focusing on attracting workers who will stay with the company for the long-term.
“We try to let people know – focus on the service aspect of what you’re doing,” Bowman said. “We’re looking for leaders, not just looking for people who are looking for $2 more an hour.”