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|Articles - September 2012|
|Monday, August 27, 2012|
Page 1 of 2
BY LINDA BAKER
The timing couldn’t have been worse. In 2008 Pacific Retirement Services, a Medford-based senior-living nonprofit, opened the Mirabella, a luxury continuing-care retirement facility in downtown Seattle. Two years later, a second Mirabella opened in Portland’s South Waterfront district. “We hit the middle of the housing collapse,” says PRS president and CEO Brian McLemore.
Today the Mirabella facilities are about 80% occupied — not bad given that most residents have to sell their homes in order to pay the communities’ hefty entry fees, which average around the high $500,000s. But if the Mirabellas are weathering the economic storm, the collapse of the housing market did compel PRS to change its business strategy. From the late 1990s through 2008, the nonprofit was an aggressive developer of new senior-living projects. When the financial markets crashed, the organization moved away from startup development and toward expansion of existing facilities as well as managing and consulting for nonprofits that operate their own retirement communities.
“We had to change with the world,” says McLemore. “What we’re doing a lot of now is expanding existing campuses or repositioning older campuses that need to be remodeled or upgraded.”
In keeping with the times, PRS also aims to invest more resources in affordable and midmarket housing, part of a larger effort to meet the varied demands of the baby boom retiree market. “What we’re seeing is a wave of seniors coming who have different interests, wants and economic circumstances than the current seniors we’re dealing with,” McLemore says.
Founded in 1991, PRS today is the 12th-largest nonprofit provider of senior-living services in the nation, according to a 2011 ranking conducted by LeadingAge Ziegler. The nonprofit, which grossed about $188 million in 2011, up from about $135 million in 2009, employs 3,200 people and provides housing and services to about 6,000 residents in more than 35 communities around the country. Although much of the nonprofit’s income boost stems from the opening of the Mirabellas, the organization’s growth also reflects its expanding focus on consulting and property management.
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