5 Senior Living Operators to Watch in 2023

SHN reporters Nick Andrews and Austin Montgomery also contributed to this story.

Fast growth in the face of headwinds, forward-thinking operating models, deep industry experience — these are just some of the traits of the senior living companies standing out in 2023.

Though the industry is undergoing pain this year, these operators’ companies are blazing trails and their efforts are worth paying attention to. What follows is a list of five senior living operators worth keeping an eye on in 2023:


Chapters Living

With a small but fast-growing portfolio of assisted living and memory care communities, the backing of an experienced regional developer and a seasoned industry veteran at the helm, Chapters Living is a provider to watch in 2023.

The St. Louis-based company, headed up by former Ascension Living President Danny Stricker and backed by Green Street Real Estate Ventures, is currently closing on its first seven transactions and recently signed its first development deal.

The company is starting with an assisted living and memory care platform in four Midwestern states, Stricker has previously told Senior Housing News that his future goals include branching into active adult — something Chapters is currently doing with a community in St. Louis.


Stricker said that since the company’s launch less than a year ago, Chapters has received many requests for third-party management — so much that the operator will likely launch a related company for managing communities in the future.

“When we are able to combine the multifamily and hospitality development experience that Green Street has with the … senior living background that Chapters has, we believe that we have a pretty unique combination there that can make us a leader, particularly in the Midwest,” Chapters said when he was a guest on the SHN podcast, Transform, in February.

But as the company grows, Stricker doesn’t have an exact size in mind. Instead, he thinks about scale in terms of whether the company can grow while hitting its operational marks.

“If that leads us to only having 10 communities and we operate extremely well and we have the brand strength and trust of those local consumers in the markets, that’s great,” he said. “If that leads us to have 50 – wonderful.”

Headwaters Group

Interest in active adult has surged in the last year thanks in part to more clarity around the product type and the fact that they can carry higher margins and far lower overhead expenses than independent living.

Among the companies growing in the space is Denver-based Headwaters Group, which former Anthology Senior Living President Ben Burke launched about a year ago. The real estate owner and developer has four development sites under control in Colorado and another in Arizona, with plans to grow by about four to six developments and about two to four acquisitions per year.

At the center of the company’s strategy is a focus on middle-market active adult communities with targeted monthly rates in the low- to mid-$2,000 range and larger units for downsizing older adults.

Headwaters’ middle-market strategy alone makes it a company worth keeping an eye on, given the great need and demand for communities with rates closer to what the middle-market can afford. But the company is also forging ahead with multifamily giant Greystar as its community manager — a “seminal moment,” Burke told SHN.

Initially, Burke was unsure whether Headwaters would be better off self-managing or tapping another operator. But by enlisting the help of Greystar, Burke and Headwaters Group are betting that certain multifamily managers have the chops to manage active adult communities, as long as they have the right scale and sales and marketing expertise.

For Burke, that realization is significant given his past life building a vertically integrated senior living management platform.

“Multifamily operating managers, they are so sophisticated when it comes to revenue management; when it comes to expense control; when it comes to sales and marketing,” Burke told Senior Housing News. “Those are the reasons that we decided … that style of management company was the right group for us and for our projects.”

Given all of the attention on the nascent active adult space — and the opportunity for successful companies therein — make Headwaters’ growth story well worth paying attention to.

Sparrow Living

Another senior living company forging ahead in the middle-market active adult space is Sparrow Partners and its operating division Sparrow Living. 

Sparrow, which can trace its roots back to the multifamily world, has brands including Solea, Mera, Sage, Amberlin and The Luxe, which carry resident rates that typically range between $1,400 to $2,500 per month. 

With a portfolio of 28 communities open and under construction in suburban markets, Sparrow is among the fastest-growing senior living companies in the industry. And that is just the beginning of the company’s growth, according to Co-founder and CEO Jeff Patterson.

In March, Sparrow closed on a site in the Phoenix metro area, with another recent closing in North Dallas slated to begin work soon, Patterson told Senior Housing News.

The company had worked to enter Florida for a number of years and now has three communities under construction there, with another three in pre-development in the Orlando metro area. Adding to that growth, Sparrow also has two sites under contract in the Atlanta metro area that are slated to begin construction in 2024.

Lending Sparrow more firepower is the fact that it has received considerable backing and interest from companies including real estate investment trust (REIT) Welltower and private equity firm The Carlyle Group.

“It’s in our Sparrow’s DNA and culture to bring a lot of curiosity and humility to the table and try to learn and get better with each project,” Sparrow Co-Founder Luke Bourlon told SHN in 2022.

The company’s well-established partners, breakneck growth speed and sense of curiosity makes Sparrow worth watching this year.

Distinctive Living

Distinctive Living has been in fast-paced growth mode since the company’s inception three years ago.

The Freehold, New Jersey-based company is now at 30 communities in varying stages of development and stabilization, having added four communities since last year. The portfolio includes a range of product types, from 20-bed homes to larger 250-unit communities.

Occupancy for the company is now in the 80s, rebounding from the low 70s during the pandemic, and CEO Joe Jedlowski told Senior Housing News in February he expects the company to return to pre-pandemic margins and occupancy by year’s end.

“The rebound for the past 13 months has been positive overall in our portfolio,” Jedlowski told SHN. “We’re excited about what’s ahead across all markets that we’re in from primary, secondary and tertiary markets, and we’ve seen rebounds across the board.”

Distinctive Living’s development arm, Distinctive Development, is overseeing the company’s newest projects, with the company’s footprint spanning markets in Northeast, Southeast and Midwest.

“I very much believe we are coming off of three years of no supply and a hard period of time economically where it’s very hard to get capitalized if there’s marginal profit,” Jedlowski said during an episode of the Senior Housing News podcast Transform. “I think we’re going to be poised to be very successful from a development standpoint.”

Looking toward, Jedlowski believes Distinctive’s growth has led to a “very strong, foundational, institutional organization that can be poised for growth.”

Future growth will come as Distinctive works with capital partners that are philosophically aligned for growth that comes in a “very structured manner” so its existing communities are unaffected.

“Let’s maximize the portfolio that we have. And so I think for us, we are very poised to do that and to take on those assets and then turn those assets around for our capital partners,” Jedlowski said.

Capri Communities

In 2021, Capri Communities spent one dollar to buy a parcel of land on which it built a $29 million senior living community in a historic Milwaukee neighborhood. The Waukesha, Wisconsin-based developer and operator has been making waves in its development strategies and operational creativity since then.

In January, Capri announced it would be piloting a four-day workweek for its staff at one of its communities.

While it isn’t the first company – or even the first in senior living – to explore a shortened work week, Capri is attempting a novel approach. For many companies and organizations looking into similar programs, the compromise comes by extending hours worked per day to make up for the productivity lost on a third day off.

But Capri is giving workers another day off every weekend with employees working 32 hours per week, but being paid for 40 hours per week.

The program amounts to an additional 52 paid vacation days per year at its Village Pointe Commons community in Grafton, Wisconsin. Capri can pull this off with the help of a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

How Capri’s 4-day workweek program impacts day-to-day operations and the community’s ability to recruit and retain talent are well-worth paying attention to.

According to a report from a Wisconsin television station, the program had already shown promise on the recruitment front when it was begun in late January.

Both the state-funded grant and the $1 land purchase highlight how Capri capitalizes on state and local relationships to make creative steps in both growth and operational functionality at its 25 senior living communities .

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