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ASHA Top 25

The vast majority (90%) of the organizations appearing on the new ASHA 25 Ownership and Management rankings were previously ranked in 2000, with only 5 companies newly included. The 2001 rankings, however, reflect the aftereffects of a few well-documented bankruptcies and distressed situations, and the overall holdings of the largest 25 owners decreased modestly for the first time since the ASHA 25 rankings began in 1994.

Senior Housing Owners

For the eighth consecutive year, Colson & Colson/Holiday Retirement Corp. topped the list of largest seniors housing owners, with a domestic portfolio of 29,445 units in 246 properties. Colson & Colson/Holiday Retirement Corp., a privately held company based in Salem, Ore., added 2,018 units in 17 properties between June 2000 and June 2001. Since the inception of the ASHA 25 rankings eight years ago, Holiday Retirement Corp. has nearly doubled its portfolio of owned U.S. seniors housing units.

For the third consecutive year, Alterra Healthcare Corporation, a publicly-traded company with an ownership portfolio of 11,846 units in 243 properties, ranked second among ASHA 25 owners. However, Alterra reported over 9,000 fewer owned seniors housing units in 2001 than in the previous year. Another publicly-traded firm, Sunrise Assisted Living, Inc., added 2,621 units to its owned portfolio and moved up in the rankings to third from seventh in 2000. Sunrise Assisted Living owns 136 properties consisting of 10,587 units. This is noteworthy, in part, because Sunrise has begun selling some of its properties and entering into long-term management agreements. Additionally, it is believed that Sunrise Assisted Living remains one of very few assisted living companies that has continued to develop a significant amount of new properties.

Health Care REIT, based in Toledo, Ohio, ranked fourth among 2001 ASHA 25 owners with an ownership interest in 148 seniors housing properties containing 10,090 units. Another real estate investment trust, Nationwide Health Properties, Inc. rounds out the top five with 9,719 owned seniors housing units in 132 properties. For the past six years, a number of health care REITs have appeared in the ASHA 25 ownership rankings. This trend continued in 2001 with 20 percent of the list comprised of REITs including Health Care REIT (4th), Nationwide Health Properties (5th), Crestline Capital (9th), Health Care Property Investors (10th), and Senior Housing Properties Trust (20th). Meditrust Corporation, which was the 15th largest seniors housing owner last year, dropped from the rankings in 2001, and has largely divested its once sizable holdings of health-related properties.

Ownership Status

It is interesting to note that although 44% of the firms appearing on the 2001 ASHA 25 owners list are public entities, the percentage of such firms has fallen consistently since 1998, when 60% of the ASHA 25 owners list were publicly traded companies. This trend can be attributed largely to bankruptcy filings and asset divesture among some struggling public companies. Additionally, one ASHA 25 owner, Brookdale Living Communities (6th), became a privately held company between 2000 and 2001. Public companies include Alterra Healthcare Corporation; Sunrise Assisted Living, Inc; Health Care REIT, Inc.; Nationwide Health Properties, Inc.; Crestline Capital Corporation; Health Care Property Investors, Inc.; Marriott Senior Living Services (a division of Marriott International); Capital Senior Living, Inc.; American Retirement Corporation; Senior Housing Properties Trust; and Assisted Living Concepts.

For-profit, privately held seniors housing owners comprise nearly half (48%) the ASHA 25 owners list and include Colson & Colson/Holiday Retirement Corp.; Brookdale Living Communities, Inc.; Atria, Inc.; Senior Lifestyle Corporation; Classic Residence by Hyatt/Encore Senior Living; Merrill Gardens, LLC; Leisure Care, Inc.; GFB-AS Investors, LLC; First Centrum, LLC; Life Care Centers of America/American Lifestyles; Fountains Retirement Properties, Inc.; and Hearthstone Assisted Living.

The remaining ASHA 25 owners are not-for-profit organizations including ACTS Retirement-Life Communities, Inc. and National Benevolent Association. The presence of not-for-profit organizations among ASHA 25 owners has declined from a high of 32% in 1994 to 8% in 2001. It should be noted, however that a number of not-for-profits are actively involved in HUD Section 202 elderly housing, which is not included in the ASHA 25 rankings.

The Newcomers

Six companies appear on the ASHA 25 owners list this year that did not appear in 2000: Brookdale Living Communities (6th); Capital Senior Living (15th); GFB-AS Investors, LLC (18th); Life Care Centers of America/American Lifestyles (21st); and Hearthstone Assisted Living (25th). Both Brookdale Living Communities and GFB-AS Investors, LLC acquired significant ownership interests in the seniors housing assets of Grand Court Lifestyles, Inc., which entered bankruptcy in 2000 and had been the industry’s 12th largest owner. New Chief Executive Officers among returning ASHA 25 owners include Steven Vick at Alterra and William J. Nicol at Assisted Living Concepts, Inc.

Ownership Growth Profile

In the aggregate, the ASHA 25 owner portfolio decreased by 3.8% between 2000 and 2001. This is notable because it is the first time in the history of these rankings that the total number of owned seniors housing units has not grown among the largest 25 firms. Although most ASHA 25 owners increased their holdings modestly between 2000 and 2001, six firms reported significantly more than 1,000 fewer owned units in their portfolios in 2001.

Despite the decrease in overall ASHA 25 ownership holdings, the minimum threshold for inclusion in the ASHA 25 owners list jumped 14% from 3,510 units in 2000 to 4,000 units in 2001. In the eight years since the inaugural ASHA 25 ranking, the minimum threshold for inclusion on the owners list has increased by 104%. The total number of units within the ASHA 25 ownership portfolio has more than doubled during this period, from 87,705 units in 1994 to 187,115 units in 2001. The mean portfolio size of ASHA 25 owners has risen from 3,508 units in 1994 to 7,483 units currently.

Senior Housing Managers

As has been the case each year since the ASHA 25 ranking began, Colson & Colson/Holiday Retirement Corp. tops the list of largest seniors housing managers, with a managed domestic portfolio of 30,958 units in 260 properties. Colson & Colson/Holiday Retirement Corp. added 3,106 units to its managed portfolio between 2000 and 2001. Marriott Senior Living Services, for the third consecutive year, ranked second among ASHA 25 managers with 25,853 units in 153 properties. Professional Community Management (PCM) is the third largest seniors housing manager with 21,721 units located in eight properties. Alterra Healthcare Corporation ranks fourth with 21,255 managed units in 479 properties. While Alterra currently manages 200 properties more than the next closest ASHA 25 manager, at the time of this writing the firm is actively seeking to divest itself of a number of buildings. Rounding out the top five is Des Moines, IA-based Life Care Services, LLC which manages 91 properties containing 20,762 units.

Management Status

More than half (60%) of this year’s ASHA 25 managers are privately held, for-profit companies, slightly more than in previous years. These companies include Colson & Colson/Holiday Retirement Corp; Professional Community Management; Life Care Services, LLC; Senior Lifestyle Corporation; Brookdale Living Communities; Atria, Inc.; Erickson Retirement Communities, LLC; Classic Residence by Hyatt/Encore Senior Living; CRSA Holdings, Inc.; Greystone Communities, Inc.; Merrill Gardens, LLC; Summerville Senior Living, Inc.; Leisure Care, Inc.; Fountains Retirement Properties, Inc.; and Life Care Centers of America/American Lifestyles.

Roughly one-third (32%) of the ASHA 25 managers were publicly traded entities, down from 52% in 2000. This year’s ASHA 25 managers roster includes two not-for-profit seniors housing organizations: ACTS Retirement-Life Communities, Inc. (18th) and National Benevolent Association (25th).


The vast majority (88%) of firms in the 2001 ASHA 25 managers list appeared in the 2000 rankings. Newcomers include ARV Assisted Living (16th), which was the 12th largest manager in 1999, but was not ranked last year. Summerville Senior Living, which manages a number of properties acquired by GFS-AB Investors, makes its ASHA 25 managers debut ranked 21st. National Benevolent Association returns to the ASHA 25 managers list after a two-year absence, managing 16 properties comprised of 4,270 units.

Management Growth Profile

The aggregate management portfolio of ASHA 25 firms grew a healthy 4.6% to 268,907 units in 2001. It should be noted that while the growth of the top 10 ASHA 25 managers was modest (1.8%) between 2000 and 2001, the five largest managers continue to account for nearly half (45%) of all ASHA 25 managed units. Since 1994, the number of units managed by ASHA 25 managers has more than doubled (134%) from 115,125 units to 268,907 units. The average management portfolio size of ASHA 25 companies in 2001 was 10,759 units. The minimum threshold for inclusion in this year’s rankings was 4,720 units, nearly 2,300 units more than the 25th ranked manager in 1994.


Published at mid-year 2001, the ASHA 25 rankings portray some of the turbulence in the industry at this time and perhaps foreshadow more dramatic changes in next year’s rankings. While new construction is likely to fuel the portfolio growth of few firms over the next 12 months, many industry observers expect that a number of distressed assets (and in some instances entire portfolios) will change hands in the coming months.

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