As construction nears completion on The Blake at Waco, Blake Management Group (BMG) has hired Jole Cromwell to serve as Move-In Coordinator and ultimately transition to Director of Activities.
Jole’s previous experience in senior care as a Director of Life Enrichment uniquely qualifies her to fill these roles.
Blake Management Group (BMG) recently hired Directors of Wellness (DOW) for their Texas communities nearing completion in Waco and New Braunfels. Responsible for complete oversight of a community’s wellness systems, the DOW is one of the most crucial staff members.
At The Blake at Waco, the role has been filled by Amanda Harness, BSN, RN.
More about Amanda.
Megan Perez, RN, has accepted the position at The Blake at New Braunfels.
More about Megan.
Waco, Texas – Despite a global coronavirus outbreak and local rainfall totals to date 20 inches over the annual average, construction on The Blake at Waco remains on schedule.
“Overall, I am very pleased with the current construction pace in Waco,” commented Adam Mitchell, LifeCare Properties’ Director of Development and Construction. “This year has presented a whole host of challenges, from over two months of inclement weather to navigating the pandemic, but we remain on schedule for 2021.”
Work on the site situated at Legends Crossing began in December 2019. Although “weather days” are factored into construction-scheduling, the global health threat declared in March of this year called for unique problem-solving. Anticipating labor and supply chain disruptions the team proactively ordered building materials, FF&E, and continue to creatively overcome obstacles resulting from COVID-19.
The next construction schedule milestones include roof work and window installation, as well as beginning interior work.
(November 2, 2020) -The health and safety of our residents and associates in senior living will always be our top priority. At LifeCare Properties (LCP), we have been diligent over the past several months to find solutions in both the design of our communities, as well as the processes and policies we implement above and beyond the recommendations of healthcare organizations.
As we respond to the current pandemic, we are confident one element in particular will be a differentiator in keeping seniors safe. Every LCP development features a a Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization air purification system (NPBI). This is a process that works to clear the air of pollutants, dust, allergens, mold, bacteria and viruses (e.g., COVID, SARS, MRSA).
Patented by Global Plasma Solutions, Inc (GPS), this revolutionary technology constantly generates a high concentration of positively and negatively charged ions that travel through the air continuously working to remove dangerous particles. When ions disperse throughout a space, they combine with particles in the air and begin to cluster, making them easier to capture in filtration systems.
These ions also disrupt pathogens’ surface proteins, rendering them inactive and unable to replicate. In addition to cleaning the air, this air purification system breaks down chemical, pet, cooking and other odors into basic harmless compounds, leaving indoor air smelling fresh and free of odor-causing agents.
GPS’ ionization technology is trusted to clean the air in hundreds of thousands of installations worldwide – including hospitals, school, airports, and more. Notable installations include The White House, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins, and Boston Children’s Hospital.
“The strongest defense against these infections will continue to be the efforts by our care teams and processes to keep infection control measures first and foremost on our minds”, said Brooks Holstein, LCP Founder. He added, “that said, we are committed both to our ionization technology as well as our approach to be provocative throughout the months ahead.” “As the information and research changes, we will change as well.”
LCP and our operator Blake Management Group (BMG) are introducing the technology to the BMG family of communities with installation in The Blake at Waco and The Blake at New Braunfels, upscale assisted living and memory care communities in Texas developed by LCP. These 112-unit communities will be managed by BMG, a proven leader in senior living.
October 22, 2020 – Recently, managing partners Brooks Holstein, Jeremy Cole, Adam Mitchell, and Daniel Payne of LifeCare Properties (LCP) toured the Texas construction sites of The Blake at Waco and The Blake at New Braunfels. The 112-unit, upscale assisted living and memory care communities are being developed by LCP and will be managed by Blake Management Group (BMG), a leader in senior living. Joining the LCP team for the site visits was Anita Davis, BMG Texas Regional Director of Operations.
With roof trusses being installed at The Blake at Waco and second-floor walls going up at The Blake at New Braunfels, construction remains on schedule for early 2021.
“During the visits with BMG and onsite teams, lease-up and deposits are exceeding our expectations at this point. We are looking forward to a productive end of year and early 2021,” noted Jeremy Cole, LCP managing partner and Chief Operating Officer.
The Blake at Waco is located at 5901 Crosslake Parkway, Waco, Texas, 76712.
The Blake at New Braunfels is located at 220 Creekside Crossing, New Braunfels, Texas, 78130.
(October 13, 2020) – Blake Management Group (BMG) has hired Haley Gardner to serve as Director of Sales for The Blake at Waco currently under construction in Waco, Texas. The 112-unit, upscale assisted living and memory care community is being developed by LifeCare Properties and will be managed by BMG, a leader in senior living.
Haley has been in sales for eight years and has been serving seniors for two and a half years. She says she finds the relationships with and the impact she has on seniors are true blessings.
To learn more about Haley, visit her BMG bio by clicking here.
Commercial real estate development company, COMVEST Properties LLC and their Senior Living Division LifeCare Properties LLC, announce new Managing Partner and COO
BILOXI, Miss. and LOUISVILLE, Ky., Sept. 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Biloxi, Mississippi-based commercial real estate development company, COMVEST Properties LLC/LifeCare Properties LLC, announces a powerhouse name in senior living to their leadership team. Jeremy Cole joins the company as Managing Partner and Chief Operations Officer.
COMVEST/LifeCare Properties (LCP) is headquartered in Biloxi on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. COMVEST, through its wholly owned affiliate LifeCare Properties LLC, is a multi-generational and diverse commercial real estate development company that is currently focusing on luxury senior living communities that feature assisted living and memory care.
As Managing Partner and COO, Mr. Cole will oversee the company’s portfolio for asset management, strategic initiatives and pursuits for new development opportunities and innovation.
Cole will operate and expand LCP’s satellite office, located in the Butchertown historic district of Louisville, KY, as the city is an epicenter for senior living real estate, operations, technology and thought leadership.
“After working alongside the COMVEST/LCP team for the past several years, I’m thrilled to now be part of it and help drive expansion of this special development team and mission,” said Jeremy Cole. “Our founder, Brooks, has been a mentor to me and I respect his broad experience and acumen across many categories of real estate. He is a Harvard Alum and served on the Real Estate Advisory Board at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Brooks has a very diverse background in commercial real estate development. After seven years of being CEO for Blake Management Group, I look forward to adding my seasoned perspective to how we design our spaces, how we team with operations, and ultimately how we enhance the lives of seniors. We plan to target what we believe are growth markets and trade areas in the Southwest and the Mid and Mountain West. These are fun places to be for all ages.”
Cole spent more than 15 years in management consulting, working for Accenture LLC, Marriott International and as a campaign manager for various political campaigns. He has an MBA with a focus in Operations Management and a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Kentucky. He has been accepted to Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Real Estate Development program and will be a proud member of the 2021 class.
Cole’s experience and specialties include but are not limited to senior living executive management; senior care and service delivery excellence; senior software management; senior community operations and program/project management.
“We are thrilled to add Jeremy to our leadership team at COMVEST/LCP,” said Brooks Holstein, Managing Member. “Not only will he bring a tighter focus on senior living operations for all LCP assets, but he will also be a great partner and role model for our employees and vendors.”
Holstein has an expansive background in Corporate Real Estate development beginning his career in 1979 with Wendy’s International. He founded COMVEST Properties in 2003. In conjunction with Net Lease Developers and transactional development partners, COMVEST has developed over 2 million square foot of shopping centers and various single-tenant retail properties while establishing a lucrative retail portfolio. In 2018, COMVEST elected to exist the retail sector and expanded its development platform with the formation of LifeCare Properties, LLC, focusing primarily on upscale, resort-style senior housing. Under the terms of a joint venture with Blake Management Group, LifeCare Properties will assist in the expansion of The Blake senior living brand beginning with Texas communities: The Blake at Waco and The Blake at New Braunfels.
To learn more about Jeremy Cole, please visit his his LinkedIn profile by clicking here.
(November 25, 2019) – Blake Management Group (BMG) has hired Melissa Frazier to serve as Executive Director of The Blake at Waco currently under construction in Waco, Texas. The 112-unit, upscale assisted living and memory care community is being developed by LifeCare Properties and will be managed by BMG, a leader in senior living.
A native of Waco and a longtime Baylor Bears fan, Melissa began her senior living career with Emeritus Senior Living as a Senior Executive Director in Dallas operating a 278-unit community. She worked her way up to be a Regional Director of Sales and Marketing with Emeritus and Brookdale following Brookdale’s acquisition of Emeritus. Melissa then joined JEA Senior Living as a Regional Director of Sales and Marketing and eventually an Operations Specialist offering operational support to JEA communities throughout the country. She joins BMG after serving most recently as an Operations Specialist for Tulsa, OK based Senior Star.
To learn more about Melissa, visit her BMG bio by clicking here.
There are several common refrains about seniors housing:
- New players are constantly entering the sector, enticed by seniors housing’s high return on investment and resistance to recessionary forces.
- Those new players must partner with an experienced operator in order to succeed in this complicated field.
- Medium-sized, regional operators are the most likely to succeed as they have scale that outshines mom-and-pop shops, but have tighter quality control compared with the behemoths of the industry.
That type of partnership is what Biloxi-based commercial real estate developer LifeCare Properties sought when it decided to work with Jackson, Mississippi-based operator Blake Management Group (BMG).
Blake is a regional seniors housing operator founded in 2007 with around 20 locations throughout the Southeast. The executives of LifeCare and its predecessor companies have been developing retail and hospitality projects for 50 years.
The two companies announced last year that they were forming a $225 million joint venture to develop 10 new seniors housing properties totaling about 1,000 beds over five years. The goal is to leverage LifeCare’s deep development experience with Blake’s operational success to push each other to new heights.
The first two projects in the venture — in Waco and New Braunfels, Texas — are currently under construction with an expected delivery in late 2020.
Seniors Housing Business spoke with Blake’s CEO Jeremy Cole and LifeCare’s founder and managing member Brooks Holstein to discuss the venture’s goals, and what their plans mean for the seniors housing industry as a whole.
Seniors Housing Business: What led to this venture happening? What did the two companies see in each other?
Cole: Our executive director at The Blake at Flowood (in Flowood, Mississippi) has family relationships with the CFO of LifeCare, and that CFO’s grandmother is a resident with us at The Blake at Flowood. A family conversation over Thanksgiving dinner led to a conversation with a LifeCare executive, which led to a meeting.
We liked that LifeCare has a lot of hospitality experience. Brooks is a second-generation hotel, restaurant and real estate developer, and we had a lot of similarities in the way we look at culture, people development, customer service and hospitality.
LifeCare has been, from the very first phone call, extremely open and excited to learn about senior living. They’ve been great partners to understand and enhance what we do. We’ve really enjoyed collaborating to build the new BMG community that they will design and build.
Holstein: We have an extensive background in retail development starting in 1980 when I was a real estate manager for a then-emerging hamburger company called Wendy’s. So we stayed focused on retail in earnest until about 2016 when we really saw the decimation of retail expansion. We felt like the industry was on decline based upon the consumer spending habits, weaker balance sheet and unsustainable corporate debt for retailers. We knew we were going to find another sector.
We had an introduction to the management team at Blake. We spent over six months getting to know each other, getting to understand each other’s culture. We each agreed at the end it was a fantastic fit for both companies.
Our platform is built on the use of equity from the limited partnership of my wife’s family. We like to control the projects. We don’t particularly care for having investors with different investment goals and criteria than we have. In the first two projects with Blake, we self-funded the equity and secured debt for the construction loans.
We try not to use other people’s money because other people tend to want a great deal of control. With our expertise and the expertise of Blake, that’s all we need to make a successful relationship and project.
SHB: Give us the nuts and bolts of how the joint venture between Blake and LifeCare works.
Holstein: Blake’s model is structured very similarly to a luxury hotel venture, where a developer provides the equity, secures financing, oversees all phases of development, with the input and participation of the operating partner. Once the project is completed, Blake has a total turnkey management role.
LifeCare owns the building, owns the improvements, but Blake makes all the management decisions from budgeting right down to front-of-the-house office.
Cole: And we have joint interest in the overall economics of the community. We’re happy to say that we have a very fair share of the upside.
SHB: The announcement mentioned that you’re using this partnership to expand Blake’s geographic reach (currently throughout the Southeast). I see the first two communities in the partnership are in Texas. Where else are you looking to go?
Cole: Our other two development partners — Cardinal Ventures and Quality Senior Living — are always looking for opportunities in the Southeast. With this joint venture we’re looking to expand throughout the Southwest, and perhaps in the Mountain West and Midwest.
SHB: Why those markets?
Cole: We have partners that look at demographics and where seniors are not only living or moving, but where other operators have high occupancies. We think there’s a lot of opportunity in those three regions.
Holstein: There was a lot of research that prioritized a list of six to 10 markets that held the greatest potential.
Blake has strategically developed a model that takes four to five communities to justify an area director that would oversee the management, and would have the executive director of each community report up to the area director.
SHB: The two Texas properties have identical renderings and unit counts. Are you planning to build on a template for these properties? If so, is this an effective way to manage development costs (and theoretically, by extension, rents)?
Holstein: In our experience, the development of a prototype not only allows you to control cost, quality and timelines, but it also extends over into building on the brand identity. When someone sees a Blake community developed by LifeCare, they will know it’s from both of us. We think that adds value across the board.
We spent six to nine months taking ideas from two prototypes of the preferred developers of Blake, combined them and brought in our own design and architectural team and built what we thought was an ideal prototype that could be used across multiple states.
Cole: These early joint decisions, operator and developer together, make a real difference. Our developers represent our advisory board. The operations team has a seat at the table while making decisions. I’m not sure we can do it any other way.
That was a big part of these joint venture discussions. LifeCare understood market selection, development and construction deeply, but they were very willing to learn what they do not know about senior living. When interests are aligned in programming, and operations are considered in both the market selection and design process, we find success. We find it imperative to have those interests aligned.
Holstein: We interviewed and hired one of the top senior living interior design firms in the country — Banko Design out of Atlanta — to help us regionalize the feel of the interior, to get more of a residential feeling that feels very familiar to our potential resident. The net effect has been fantastic in our view.
SHB: Seniors housing is currently overbuilt, according to the NIC numbers, driving occupancy down. How do you plan to develop in a way that won’t exacerbate that problem, and ensure your new communities succeed?
Cole: First and foremost, we take this trend very seriously, both in live operations and in development. We are making decisions on where we are going and market selection based on this risk. We’re being very deliberate and considering every overdevelopment risk possible before we decide on a market.
Secondly, in previous markets where someone has developed on top of one of our existing communities, we still deeply believe it comes down to the people that you hire, the culture you create and the services you deliver day in and day out. That’s our competitive advantage.
Each market we go into, we’ll either be the nicest community in the market or close, and we’ll be at a price point that’s highly competitive to all products in the market.
Holstein: There’s a fundamental component that gives Blake an advantage: The company is private. There’s no requirement of meeting growth benchmarks that other public companies have to meet. If a market is not ready, premature or oversaturated, they simply don’t have to develop.
The brilliance of Blake’s management is the C-Suite. They have so much experience, and they collaborated with us in looking at markets. If there were indicators of operational weakness or softness in rent, we would bypass that community.
We don’t want to just grab market share in an over-competitive market. We’d rather find an underserved market that meets a Blake community demographic profile, and get the most dominant site we can in the market.
It’s a bit of a new step for Blake. We’re trying to find retail or hotel locations at dominant intersections. We pay a lot of money for very good sites.
SHB: LifeCare’s other main partnership is with COMVEST Properties, which is largely a retail developer now looking to get into seniors housing. Is there anything you’re able to learn from COMVEST’s retail history that you can now apply to seniors housing?
Cole: Construction is not easy. When we start our preleasing and marketing efforts 15 months out from resident’s Day 1 we are selling and proposing a vision of senior living that some need right now. To communicate a timeline and deliver on a timeline for construction is extremely important for senior living. I’ve been in scenarios where, due to delays, we’ve had to rent hotel rooms and work with competitors because seniors have needs right now.
The value that I see LifeCare adding is that in other industries the company has worked in, the penalties and the construction diligence are extremely high. The company has developed for Walgreen’s, Office Depot and Starbucks. Being late is not an option.
The second thing that comes to mind is LifeCare’s background in customer service. When you open up a community, you have 110 units, 110 showers, 110 rooms that need to be fully operational. They understand through hotels and retail the commitment that we are giving to our residents when they move in.
The learning curve for customer service has been nonexistent with LifeCare.
Holstein: I formed COMVEST over 15 years ago as a retail development company. It basically is a real estate research and service company and its exclusive client is ourselves.
We’re used to approaching the development process with a very different, entrepreneurial look. We will invest heavily in our entitlements during due diligence, not wait until late to make significant capital investment. We’ll have $400,000 to $500,000 in architectural fees, but we’ll literally be able to start construction within days of closing on the property.
We’ve never had a failed project that we started but didn’t get built. That was just an expectation of the retailers. We learned to get very comfortable with the right consultants, architects and surveyors that we can rely on to help us make relatively aggressive entitlement decisions.
We also have a wide breadth of banking and lending relationships. We’re continuing to try to expand those as we go further west or toward the Midwest. Having established banking relationships is critical to the senior living sector.
The average Walgreens was a $5 million total development cost, with an equity cost of up to $1 million. Every Blake community is a $25 million project. It’s a very different profile for the lender.
SHB: How are you handling that step up?
Holstein: We went back to an existing lending relationship that had financed the last Walgreens we did. Coincidentally the lender also had been doing construction financing for one of Blake’s other partners.
The lender had the advantage of in-depth knowledge of the development skills of Blake. They had seen firsthand the way that we precisely overmanage our development. We are totally micromanagers when it comes to making sure we don’t overlook a critical aspect of a project.
LifeCare Properties, together with Blake Management Group, introduces The Blake at Waco, a resort-style senior living community on Waco’s historic South Side (to the southeast geographically). This will be the second Blake location to open in Texas.
“We recently announced our first community in the great state of Texas, New Braunfels, and Waco is equally exciting for us as we continue this strategic plan,” said Jeremy Cole, CEO of Blake Management Group.
LifeCare Properties is developing the estimated 93,000-square-foot, 112-unit assisted living and memory care community. The assisted living and memory care suites will be designed for comfortable, safe and enjoyable senior living.
“Historically, The Blake fits really well in university towns like Waco, which we know is growing quickly. We are excited to be part of this growth from a healthcare and hospitality perspective,” said Cole.
The assisted living options include two-bedroom suites, one-bedroom suites and studios. The memory-support area of the community, focusing on Alzheimer’s and dementia care, will feature both studio and one-bedroom suites specifically designed to provide a safe environment where resident’s socialization and specialized cognitive therapy plans are paramount. Walk with Me, Blake’s proprietary program centered on dementia care, will also be available at Waco.
“By investing in industry leading engagement tools and programs like Walk with Me in our communities, we are providing what we believe is an unmatched memory care experience for residents and their loved ones,” said Cole.
Formerly a 158-acre industrial tract at Waco’s “front door” from the South, Blake at Waco is situated at Legends Crossing. Development of the area began with the 75-acre Baylor Scott & White Hospital campus. The hospital is now part of the high-end commercial project that includes an environmentally friendly and accessible network of hotels, restaurants, parks, lakes and pedestrian paths. The location is also in close proximity to Baylor University, which has a strong connection with Blake.
Cole added, “Baylor University is near and dear to our organization. BMG board member Edgar McKee is a Baylor graduate, and our COO Katie Kleinsmith lives in Austin and will be sitting on the Board of Advocates for Baylor’s Garland School of Social Work.”
Deeply rooted in hospitality, the Blake strives for the best in care and quality of life, as well as exceptional value. Communities are staffed by registered nurses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Blake also takes pride in delivering an exceptional dining experience with highly-trained chefs and food prepared purposefully for seniors.
Visit www.blakeatwaco.com for upcoming news regarding development and pre-opening sales.
ABOUT BLAKE MANAGEMENT GROUP
Blake Management Group is a privately held senior living operator formed in 2007 with the goal of providing outstanding senior living services that are meaningful, compassionate and innovative. Based in Jackson, MS, Blake Management Group is responsible for the operation of 20 communities throughout Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisiana, Virginia and Texas.
For additional information on BMG, please visit www.blakeliving.com.