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Through leadership from a visionary management team and board of trustees, The RiverWoods Company at Exeter, New Hampshire (RiverWoods), has grown its organization from a single-site CCRC into New Hampshire’s largest continuing care retirement community system.
Over the course of the last 15 years, RiverWoods has grown from a single campus capable of serving approximately 300 seniors to three campuses serving more than 650 seniors today.
The Beginning of RiverWoods
RiverWoods was organized in 1983 by 2 retired teachers, whose goal was to establish a continuing care retirement community serving Seacoast Region seniors.
The Woods welcomed its first residents in 1994, and by 2001 was financially successful, dominated its market and maintained a substantial waiting list of seniors who wanted the lifestyle, continuum of care and quality services that RiverWoods had become known to provide.
Growth of a System
Given the success of The Woods, in 2001 RiverWoods engaged Greystone to determine if development of an expansion campus was important and necessary for the long-term viability and health of the organization.
RiverWoods proactively realized that despite its success and position in the market, it was not immune to the challenges that face all senior living providers.
The organization wanted to expand its services to serve pent-up market demand, but all members of the board of trustees, as well as the residents, were not convinced that expansion would enhance the long-term viability and success of the organization.
The corporation was concerned that residents may be negatively affected by an expansion.
Greystone identified the basic benefits of expansion, and demonstrated through detailed financial modeling how an expansion would benefit the overall financial health of RiverWoods by taking advantage of economies of scale, and by reducing the organization’s reliance on entrance fee turnover to generate positive cash flow and pay debt service.
Greystone demonstrated how an expansion could help minimize monthly service fee increases for current residents, while providing additional health care options, new common areas, dining options and amenities that would benefit them.
In December 2001, the board of trustees approved development of The Ridge at RiverWoods, a new stand-alone campus to be constructed on 111 acres approximately one-half mile from The Woods campus.
The Ridge encompasses approximately 51 acres and complements the existing Woods campus, yet operates independently, taking advantage of existing operations where appropriate.
The apartments at The Ridge are larger and weighted to two-bedroom apartments, as larger apartments were more popular with seniors on the waiting list. The new health care center added specialized memory support services – a level of care not previously available to residents of The Woods.
The Ridge opened in October 2004 and achieved stabilized occupancy in 12 months. With the opening of The Ridge, RiverWoods diversified its product offering with cottages and additional 2-bedroom apartments.
It also improved its financial performance and reduced reliance on entrance fee turnover by introducing a refundable entrance fee contract, and continued to maintain strong occupancy with a wait list.
With the success of The Ridge expansion, RiverWoods was not content with staying stagnant.
In 2006, Greystone assisted the board of trustees to initiate planning for a third campus to maintain its market-leading position, respond to pent-up market demand, further improve financial performance and increase the number of seniors that RiverWoods serves in the Seacoast Region.
Development on The Boulders at RiverWoods, a third stand-alone campus, was initiated in 2007 on the remaining 60 acres adjacent to The Ridge. The Boulders opened for occupancy in March 2010, and one year after opening is approximately 90% occupied in independent living and a resounding success.
Having started in 1983 as the vision of 2 forward-thinking teachers, RiverWoods continues to explore opportunities to leverage its reputation and expand its services to additional seniors in New Hampshire’s Seacoast Region.