With Occupancy Rising, Wingate Living Looks to Grow Beyond Current Nine-Community Portfolio

Wingate Living is moving forward with new development and pursuing future acquisition opportunities and other projects in the near future.

The company reached pre-pandemic occupancy levels earlier this year, moving to a 90% census across its portfolio of nine communities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to President Alexandra Schuster.

This comes after efforts to “reinvigorate” staffing, focusing on leadership development and improving retention, Schuster said.

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“2024 has been a year of continued growth and stabilization, and it’s rewarding to see everything come to fruition,” Schuster told SHN.

Wingate is nearing the beginning of construction on an expansion at its Needham, Massachusetts campus. The project, known as One Wingate Way East, involves repurposing an existing nursing home building that the company had owned previously.

“This was a real opportunity for us to take an asset that was no longer productive and to really reimagine it as independent living and expand our campus in that way,” Schuster said.

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Units range from one- to two-bedroom layouts with balconies and French doors, featuring over a dozen floor plans. Construction is slated to start in the later part of this year and is expected to run for 12 months, Schuster said.

The addition will bring 69 independent living luxury units to the Needham campus and is a three-story structure with a wide range of amenities at the boutique community, including pickleball courts, a rooftop lounge, a grill area, a golf simulator, an art workshop, yoga and spin studios, along with a bistro and personal wine lockers for residents.

For further growth, Schuster said Wingate is “actively looking” in the Northeast and Southeast regions, including in New England and in Florida, for potential acquisitions. The company also has two development sites in Massachusetts that it is evaluating for future new construction projects.

“We know that if you can get a shovel in the ground today and be the first to open in the next 12 to 24 months, you’re in good shape because there’s not a ton of activity going on right now,” Schuster said. “As we think about developing a new building, a lot of the programming centers around the different amenities that we have.”

With a leadership style that’s hands-on and allows for executives to mix it up with staff and residents at the community level, Schuster said Wingate is able to be more adaptable in solving staffing problems that arise.

Wingate also operates its own home health, hospice program and rehabilitation services as a way of reaching prospective residents sooner, Schuster said.

Looking forward, Schuster said it was one thing to get stabilized or to reach pre-pandemic occupancy levels, but it’s another thing to stay at those levels and remain consistent.

“We’re building and creating these beautiful environments for older adults living their best lives. How can we enhance their lives,” Schuster said. “It’s about how we can enhance that and make more families happy, and that runs through everything that we do.”

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