Balfour Senior Living has become an affiliate of Kisco Senior Living, creating a combined entity of 35 communities with more than 5,000 apartments.
The two privately held companies announced the transaction on Oct. 13, but did not disclose any financial details. Going forward, Kisco Founder and CEO Andy Kohlberg will serve as CEO of the newly joined entities, while Balfour Founder and CEO Michael Schonbrun will serve as strategic advisor for the Balfour communities .
The parties have discussed a possible transaction for several years, given the “parallel paths” they have followed since launching three decades ago, according to the announcement. Each company offers a rental-based continuum of care – including independent living, assisted living and memory care – with buildings in “highly desirable residential neighborhoods.”
The two companies also have focused on different markets, so the combined entity will have a larger geographic footprint than the two separate organizations. Balfour has a stronghold of nine communities in Colorado, where the company is headquartered, along with a community in Michigan and projects underway in Washington, D.C. and Boston. California-based Kisco has a concentration of communities in that state and in North Carolina, along with properties in Utah, Hawaii, Florida and Virginia, and a project nearly finished in Maryland.
“We are excited to complete this effort which will bring new capabilities, resources, and greater geographic coverage,” Kohlberg stated in the Oct. 13 press release.
In the interests of continuity for staff and residents, the companies will continue to operate their distinct brands out of their existing corporate offices.
Balfour Co-Founder and General Counsel Susan Juroe joined with Schonbrun in touting the “synergistic” nature of the transaction.
“The two companies share a demonstrated commitment to outstanding design, superior life enrichment programs, high end dining and a dedicated service-oriented staff,” they stated in the announcement.
CS Capital Advisors served as Balfour’s financial advisor for the transaction.
Kisco and Balfour also both have partnerships with real estate investment trust Welltower (NYSE: WELL).
In 2021, Welltower and Kisco formed a “long-term strategic partnership” to “develop premier communities with first class amenities and care in an inspirational environment,” Welltower CEO and CIO Shankh Mitra said at the time. The partnership builds on projects that the two companies already have partnered on, including The Cardinal at North Hills, in Raleigh, and The Carnegie at Washington Center, in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Balfour struck a deal with Welltower in 2019, acquiring six communities from private equity firm AEW for $308 million and securing exclusive rights to Balfour’s future development and acquisition pipeline.
Both Balfour and Kisco have built reputations on creating elevated senior living experiences. Balfour is known for architecturally ambitious projects that draw inspiration from their locations, including the equestrian-themed community in Littleton, Colorado, and the redevelopment of a historic train station in Denver.
“We think the boomers are going to want a more vibrant community to be in, that they feel there’s new life, new adventures, new friendships, new things to learn,” Schonbrun said in a Senior Housing News Changemakers Series interview in 2020. “They don’t just want to be in a tranquil, boring, beige environment. That’s our bet and it’s been paying off, and I think it’s only going to be increasingly a winning strategy going forward.”
Kisco likewise has pushed the envelope in various ways in its communities, including through the early adoption of various technologies, hospitality training for staff delivered via a partnership with Forbes Travel Guide, and innovations in culinary offerings. During the Covid-19 public health emergency, the company adopted a “pooled” Covid-19 testing regimen similar to the approach taken by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL).
“Try something new, if it doesn’t work out, learn from it and try something else. I think that’s a big part of our culture,” Kohlberg said in a 2021 SHN+ TALKS interview.
He also emphasized the longevity of Kisco’s staff and the importance of a “matrix” rather than hierarchical relationship between the corporate office and Kisco’s communities.
“When they feel comfortable and trust the home office to do the right thing and look after their interests, it allows for more innovation,” he said. “Innovation breaks down when there’s no trust between management and frontline.”