At Greystone, where building relationships is a permanent focus, open communication with all participants in senior living growth is vital to improving, repositioning or developing CCRCs that exceed expectations.

On Oct. 27, 2011, Greystone leadership hosted institutional bond investors in Irving, Texas, to engage in a day of dialogue and to gain a better understanding of how the lending community views senior housing. The investors were able to share their hot button issues and critical success factors – another step toward better communication and ultimately better communities that minimize risk for stakeholders.

Discussion topics included:

  • How exactly are market and financial assumptions created?
  • How can transparency in the flow of information between parties be increased?
  • Can projects be developed with enough flexibility to continually adapt and meet market demand over the course of a 30- or 35-year bond life?

In discussing these topics, Greystone professionals shared real-time examples from the more than 40 projects on which they are currently working. Central to each topic was the need to select projects that are well poised to experience long-lasting success.

How are projects best selected? First, each project needs a strong sponsor, one well-respected and committed to the project. Market dynamics – including depth of income eligible households, a relatively stable real estate market and competitive opportunity – are also vital to predicting a community’s success. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the project’s value proposition must fit well into the proposed community’s potential market.

The careful details behind these factors are investigated and analyzed through an iterative process. As more information becomes known, project assumptions are tuned, with a continual focus on what brings value to the consumer. These careful details are the driving force behind the market and financial assumptions that bond investors eventually see.

After a project is financed, transparency becomes immensely important. Monthly calls with investors allow them to stay up to date on how the project team is responding to changes in the environment. These calls include representatives from marketing, development, planning and management, so that each team may answer specific questions about its role. While transparency alone doesn’t eliminate unexpected project setbacks, it does allow everyone involved to work through challenges with the best information available.

Finally, in regard to project flexibility, Greystone believes in developing the smallest financially-viable first phase of a project. This first phase should allow a project to cover debt service and operating expenses with its operating revenue – a 1.0 revenue coverage ratio. This allows a community to build reserves from turnover entrance fees and plan future phases in response to changes in market demand. In addition, simplifying the number of unit types and styles and designing with an eye toward combination units can also help flexibility and cost efficiency.

This October meeting continued a dialogue that began in late 2009 and early 2010, when Greystone leadership visited more than 30 investors at their offices. Now, between a late 2010 meeting and this October discussion, more than 20 investors have come to Greystone’s Texas-based headquarters to further the conversation and continue to develop mutual understanding.

“It’s nice to attend other events with Greystone, but it’s not the same as when you have a working business session in a formal setting, specifically getting the chance to see how they view the market,” said Ron Mintz, principal and credit analyst in Vanguard’s fixed income group. “Our interests are highly aligned, which is great. Strong investor-developer relationships help both parties do a better job.”

This dialogue has proven beneficial to all. Since these meetings began in 2009, Greystone and investors have worked together to create $2 billion in funding for non-profit sponsors of CCRCs. Securing financing matched to specific needs and capabilities is more critical today than in the past, and success comes through understanding and overcoming obstacles. Open communication is a key to meeting challenges head-on.



The Stayton at Museum Way, Fort Worth’s first and only Life Care community, officially opened to its first residents Oct. 18, 2011. The Stayton is a $164 million senior living community in Fort Worth’s Cultural District. An 11-story, three building community, The Stayton features 188 independent living residences with a variety of one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans. In addition to resort-style independent living, The Stayton also provides onsite assisted living, memory support and private skilled nursing for Life Care residents and others in the community.

The Stayton at Museum Way is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit senior living community sponsored by Senior Quality Lifestyles Corporation (SQLC), a Texas-based nonprofit organization that sponsors sister communities The Buckingham in Houston, Edgemere in Dallas, Querencia at Barton Creek in Austin and Mirador in Corpus Christi. Greystone developed and manages The Stayton and all other SQLC communities. For more information call (817) 439-6936 or


Experience makes the best salesman, it seems. After 20 years of developing continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), Kim Watson moved into Edgemere, an SQLC-sponsored community developed by Greystone that opened in 2001 in Dallas, Texas. Watson had worked with Greystone until his retirement.

Watson returned to Greystone on Oct. 13, 2011, to speak to a group of 50-plus architects, contractors and interior designers invited to Greystone’s Ninth Annual Development Conference. While he shared some about the leap from developer to resident, his main message centered on another important aspect of the business – marketing.

“Nothing happens in this world until you sell something,” Watson said. “You need to understand their side of the business to understand what gets sold.”

Guests listened to tales of how Watson would secretly make adjustments to Edgemere’s automatic changeover thermostats. They heard about his practice of raising building grades 6 inches for more efficient water drainage. But time and time again, he came back to the need for marketing-driven development.

“Sometimes architects think too much about the plan design,” he said. “But once you’ve made that design, you really need to (mentally) insert yourself into that interior, standing up and looking around. What sort of vistas do you see when you open the door?”

That mental insertion into a schematic plan can help developers envision what potential residents will like and what they won’t. And Watson wasn’t the conference’s only speaker to harp on marketing and market potential. Greystone senior manager Roger Randall spoke of the need for supply to meet a growing market demand. He shared the following:

  • The number of people 75 years old and older will double in the next 25 years.
  • The 2008 recession and slow recovery have curtailed industry growth.
  • Older senior housing products will not appeal to this new generation.

In addition to these discussions, guests participated in a mock land search, listened to case study presentations with insights into current projects and toured SQLC’s The Stayton at Museum Way, also developed by Greystone, which opens Oct. 18 in Fort Worth.

And who is one of The Stayton’s first residents? That’s right: Kim Watson. He and his wife are going to enjoy CCRC-living on the other side of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“My bride, we’ve been married eight years,” he said. “She’s so excited about moving into The Stayton, I can’t even describe it.”

Greystone’s Dave McDowell, senior vice president of development, says he will keep inviting some of the industry’s leading minds as long as they keep coming. The dialogue, networking and educational opportunities are invaluable in working toward developing the supply to meet this coming market demand.

“I can’t underestimate the importance of maintaining solid consulting relationships,” McDowell said. “This Conference is one of many initiatives Greystone uses to strengthen these ties.”



On Oct. 5, 2011, Redstone Village received $18.33 in financing to fund construction of its fourth phase, which will include 36 new independent living apartments. Located in Huntsville, Alabama, Redstone had already received reservation deposits for 34 of the 36 Phase IV apartments.

A phased approach to development has allowed Redstone to manage risk while achieving full occupancy and to better meet market demand with new products. The community opened its first phase in late 2004. In 2008, Redstone added additional independent and assisted living apartments. In 2009, the community added a stand-alone specialty care assisted living facility to provide memory support care.

Greystone has served as Redstone’s development consultant since the initial phase.Click here to learn more about Redstone.