A few weeks ago Juniper Communities issued a press release announcing they had completed the purchase of a Life Plan Community (CCRC) in Bucks County, Bensalem, PA

By Steve Moran

A few weeks ago Juniper Communities issued a press release announcing they had completed the purchase of a Life Plan Community (CCRC) in Bucks County, Bensalem, PA. The community has 279 independent living units, 60 assisted living units and 17 skilled nursing beds.  

It appears they got a bargain, paying $13.65 million or a bit more than $38 thousand per unit. This same property sold in 2005 for $17.35 million. It looks like a bargain . . . and likely is, but the press release notes they have committed another $9.5 million dollars in renovations to the property over the next two years.

What the Heck?

I was surprised and curious about why Juniper was jumping into the Life Plan Community business and so reached out to Lynne Katzmann, founder and President, and Cindy Longfellow, Vice President of Business Development, Sales and Marketing. Here is what they had to say.  

  • The first thing they pointed out was that this is actually not their first foray into senior living communities with life plan contracts. They do have one other community with just a handful of life plan contracts, so this is not exactly brand new territory.

  • In talking about this acquisition the Juniper view is that the community in “Under Managed,” meaning that with the Juniper management team supporting the local staff there is a huge opportunity to serve residents and the marketplace better.

  • It is typical when a management change like this happens for the top leadership at the property level to be immediately let go. I asked how they would be handling this. At this point they have made no changes and are hopeful that none will be necessary. They are going into the management change assuming the Juniper way will make work lives better for leaders . . . and line staff.

  • This community has been positioned as an affordable (not low income, but middle market) Life Plan Community in the local marketplace and Juniper plans to maintain that market position. They will continue to offer both Life Plan contracts and monthly rental contracts. The message to residents and prospects is “Your life, your choice.”

  • Their priorities include the following:

    • Introducing the Juniper culture

    • Implementing the Juniper signature programs

    • Building renovations

  • For at least the first number months they expect to introduce one new significant thing that will directly benefit residents each month.  

  • This particular community has an unusually large number of independent living units compared to assisted living and skilled. They believe that as Boomers age, there will be more and more demand for independent living with a la carte services and this particular campus is well suited for that model.

They expect the complete process of physical plant improvements and rightsizing the culture and management will take 18-24 months. I am hoping a year from now we can get an update on how it is going and perhaps a lessons learned article.

I am also thinking we are at the beginning of a season of new opportunities for experienced operators with deep pockets.