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Partners Plan 10 New Blake Senior Housing Communities in the U.S., Key Executives Added

JACKSON, MSBlake Management Group and LifeCare Properties, LLC announced a joint venture this month that will expand the resort-style Blake senior living communities nationwide.

“Over the years, we have considered dozens of potential joint ventures to grow our brand, and we feel like we’ve found the perfect partnership in LifeCare Properties,” said Jeremy Cole, CEO of Mississippi-based Blake Management Group (BMG). “I have a great amount of respect for how LifeCare Properties performs the development process and we feel our companies have tremendous synergies in culture, diligence and high expectations.”

The Blake-branded properties, known for hospitality, quality care, and restaurant-style cuisine, are thriving in their current Southeastern markets. With increasing demand for upscale options for the aging population, partners feel now is the right time to expand The Blake brand to other regions.

“After extensive discussions with the partners and senior executives of Blake Management Group and numerous on-site visits to Blake’s portfolio of communities, we were convinced that BMG would be an ideal operating partner,” said LifeCare Properties Managing Member Brooks Holstein. “We appreciate BMG’s unparalleled commitment to resident care and services, as it complements our commitment to delivering superior properties.”

BMG was founded in 2007 and currently has 17 resort-style senior living communities operating or in development in seven states: Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. LifeCare Properties and BMG plan to open 10 more Blake-branded properties in select East Coast, Midwest and Southwest markets over the next five years.

LifeCare Properties, LLC, an upscale senior housing developer, is a wholly owned affiliate of Biloxi, MS-based commercial real estate company COMVEST Properties, LLC. Under the joint venture, LifeCare Properties will develop the new Blake communities and BMG will operate them with the same emphasis on hospitality and quality care that has become the brand’s hallmark.

“Moving to a national brand with several regions allows us to grow our development goals and operational process initiatives at BMG,” Cole said. “For us, scaling this company relates to our qualifiable goals as much as, if not more than, our quantifiable goals. It opens up opportunities for mobility for all of our current associates, and allows us to attract new talent.”

The joint venture agreement was finalized in September. Development of new properties is expected to begin later this year, with more development in 2019.

Also in September, BMG named John Waits as its new president. Serving as COO and CFO for Peterbilt Truck Centers for 18 years, he brings a wealth of financial and leadership experience to his current role at BMG.

Waits’ strong background in finance helped him grow Peterbilt 900% during his tenure. He understands and excels at strategic planning and the distributed model of regional management, the same system practiced at BMG. With Waits reporting to CEO Jeremy Cole and working closely with CFO Stephanie Scott, this partnership will drive the prioritization and leadership of the company. 

BMG also brought on board former Google Executive Chef Darin Leonardson as vice president of culinary operations recently. Bringing with him 25 years in hospitality, he has a mission to transform dining and shake up the senior living industry by making the culinary experience feel more like a restaurant or hotel.

As the former general manager and executive chef for Google, Leonardson spent four years managing more than 60 employees and running kitchens in five different buildings across the corporate campus. In the culinary world, he has earned a reputation as an innovator with a passion for cooking and eating well, and is dedicated to featuring locally grown produce from community farms.

“A person’s love of good food doesn’t stop when they age, nor should it have to when they enter a senior living community,” Leonardson said. “We should indulge individuals in their golden years, and too many senior communities undervalue hospitality. I envision The Blake as the Ritz-Carlton of senior living where the excellence of restaurant and hotel cuisine and service merges together to give seniors the living experience they deserve.”

Prior to his time at Google, Leonardson was the vice president of Rapid Recovery Centers, focusing on the healing aspects of food for multiple post-acute transitional care facilities throughout Texas.

He also worked as director of hospitality at Golden Living Centers, overseeing more than 300 properties and serving over 60,000 meals daily; as the corporate food and beverage manager at One Eighty, a Leisure Care company with 38 properties around the world; and as the executive chef at The Bellettini, a LeisureCare property in Bellevue, WA. He served as executive chef for a variety of restaurants in Washington State and has been featured as a celebrity guest chef on numerous voyages for Holland America’s Cruise Line.