Chelsea Senior Living President: Nimbler Portfolio Will Aid Third-Party Management Growth Strategy

Chelsea Senior Living is continuing to make headway on its  regional third-party management growth strategy.

In May, Toledo, Ohio-based Welltower (NYSE: WELL) transitioned 13 communities from Chelsea to Distinctive Living. With a leaner portfolio of 13 communities under management following the transition, Chelsea is ready to take on new communities to its roster, having added a former Atria community recently in New City, New York, according to President Roger Bernier.

“We’re nimble enough now to take folks back out into the field and take on some more properties and mobilize very quickly,” Bernier told Senior Housing News. “Being nimble and being a regional company is so important.”


Previously, the company sustained its growth through new construction, but the company shifted to third-party management as development became tough.

Bernier said Chelsea will return to a development footing once general conditions improve.

“We’re positioned right now to be part of the growth of third-party management and we’re waiting for the cycle to change while focusing on our existing communities and getting back to basics,” Bernier told SHN in a recent interview.


As the company has grown in recent months, it has also focused on operational improvement.

Its most recent development in Long Island, an independent living community, is now stabilized. That measured success at established communities lends optimism to future development resuming once headwinds ease, Bernier said. Its newest community, a new-build project in West Orange, New Jersey, recently opened a sales office. The community is expected to open early next year, Bernier said.

Looking ahead, Chelsea is seeking to pursue future third-party management agreements with owners in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions.

The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care (NIC) reported that construction activity in the mid-Atlantic has shown 10% positive growth in 2023 compared to 2019. But markets in the Northeast, where construction has dropped 64% since 2019, NIC MAP Vision Data shows.

With new software systems in place to better interact with its existing electronic health record (EHR) system, Bernier said he believes Chelsea and the wider industry are “turning a corner on staffing.”

Moving forward, Bernier said he believes that future opportunities to add to the managed portfolio could come from distressed properties in existing markets, contrasted with future development once conditions improve.

“I’m optimistic for the fourth quarter of this year and entering 2025,” Bernier said. “I think this cycle is going to move very fast once [development] starts moving.”

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