Charter Senior Living Picks Up 13 Communities in ‘Calculated’ Growth Strategy

Charter Senior Living CEO Keven Bennema is on the road again, and so too is the senior living operator as it continues its growth strategy this year.

The company this week announced the addition of 13 communities in Illinois and Wisconsin formerly managed by Cedarhurst Senior Living. The latest growth of Charter Senior Living’s management portfolio sets the organization to continue growing while evolving a future pathway to owning communities, Bennema told SHN.

“We want to figure out a path toward ownership, a path toward some type of joint venture partnership in ultimately every community we operate,” Bennema said. “From a financial perspective, we’re able to do more investing as we take on new acquisitions and development.”


The company’s latest move follows Charter taking on management of six New England-based communities in February of this year for Columbia Pacific Advisors. The recent management growth comes as the company announced new ground-up senior living developments in Wisconsin and Kentucky.

Currently, Bennema is on the road in his RV as he visits Charter communities. To date this year, the CEO has visited 22 communities personally to meet with residents and staff, with many more to go.

In 2024, Charter has thus far added 19 communities under management, and the company has plans for multiple more growth sites under development.


‘Calculated’ growth continues

The newly managed communities formerly operated by Cedarhurst Senior Living are owned by Diversified Healthcare Trust (Nasdaq: DHC).

“Our growth strategy will continue to grow with existing institutional investors alongside a path toward ownership with all the new growth we take on over the next two to three years,” Bennema added.,” Bennema added.

That growth has been fueled by the company’s renewed emphasis on leadership development and staff retention, which Charter President Jayne Sallerson highlighted in a Transform podcast interview last year. This has blossomed into over 100 internal promotions of staff to higher leadership positions.

“That was extremely huge,” Bennema said. “We knew that with this growth we had to add additional resources, and we built out regional teams.”

With two projects under development in Wisconsin and Kentucky, Bennema said he sees future opportunities in secondary markets for new ground-up development. This is evidenced by a recent community standing up in Paducah, Kentucky, reaching 85% occupancy within 10 months of opening.

“We’ve been able to put together this formula of really doing our research in growing secondary markets and keeping those teams going, while we’re able to absorb higher interest rates,” Bennema added.

Bennema noted Charter would continue its development partnership with the Louisville, Kentucky-based DMK Development Group as its general contractor.

Charter assumes the operations of the communities in both states, which include a mix of independent living, assisted living, and memory care units.

Last year, Bennema commented on Charter’s growth plans and the latest expansion is built on the foundation of employee support and transparency with capital partners.

“We’re not just chasing new growth,” Bennema told SHN last year. “It’s very calculated, and we owe it to our partners to continue focusing on managing assets we already manage while expanding our joint venture partner relationships.”

In reflecting on the 2024 growth, Bennema said Charter Senior Living would continue to focus on staff support while improving resident care. In looking at the Columbia Pacific relationship, Bennema said the effort was the “first big feather in our cap,” as Charter continues to grow its existing capital relationships.

“It was just very logical that we grow with existing partners because creating partnerships, nurturing partnerships, and extending partnerships is not easy,” Bennema said. “As the operator, you have to find the right fit.”

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