Gilding the Golden Years

Senior-living facilities have become dramatically more inviting in the past three decades, and Glenn Kaplan and his various development firms have been there to capitalize on every step of the evolution

The Bentley Commons at Zephyr Hills is one of many independent-living communities that Glenn Kaplan has built since he got into the senior-housing market in the 1970s and helped transform it.

Glenn Kaplan’s Career Milestones

1972
Glenn Kaplan and his real estate partners complete their first senior-housing development after the State of New York requested the project to fill a void

1985
Kaplan develops his 10th senior-housing project and decides to found his own business, Kapson Senior Quarters, to focus exclusively on the market

1998
Kapson Senior Quarters goes public 

1999
Kapson Senior Quarters is bought out by Lazard Frerer

2002
Kaplan reenters the market with Kaplan Development Group LLC

2005
The company conducts its first expansion of multiple properties

2006
Kaplan watches his business surpass the 10-property mark in its portfolio

2007
The company completes its first ground-up construction; employees celebrate as Kaplan Development reaches 1,000 units in its portfolio

2008
The Kaplan team completes a historical renovation of the multiproperty Bentley Commons at Keene in Keene, NH 

2010
The company gets its first management contract, for the renovated Bentley Assisted Living at Branchville facility in Branchville, NJ; Kaplan sells a four-property, multistate portfolio to AEW Capitol Management while retaining management contracts on two properties in Massachusetts

2012
Construction begins on All American Assisted Living in Hanson, MA

2013
All American Assisted Living opens, serving as a model for 20–30 more developments Kaplan intends to build  

There was a time not that long ago when the words “senior living” generated little more than blank stares. Nursing homes were an understood industry, but independent and partially dependent living establishments for senior citizens? Not so much. 

“It’s certainly a lot different now than when we started, when we had to do a dog-and-pony show explaining exactly what we were doing and how we planned on doing it,” says CEO Glenn Kaplan, recalling the era when his first company, Kapson Senior Quarters, tried to secure bank financing for its senior-living construction efforts. “The good news is that there are enough [financial]institutions today. Not all of them will [fund senior-living development], but they understand it. And we’ve got enough of these built now where they’ll come out and take a look.”

Glenn Kaplan“[Independent senior living is] certainly a lot different now than when we started, when we had to do a dog-and-pony show explaining exactly what we were doing.”

Glenn Kaplan, CEO

Kaplan initially entered the market when the State of New York approached him in the 1970s, requesting that he and his real estate partners produce a senior-housing development to fill a void. One project eventually led to more projects, and by 1985, Kaplan and his partners knew that this was where they wanted to focus all their developing efforts. “It was a huge evolution as to what was going on in the world and the infrastructure of family life,” Kaplan says. “People were resolving that, because they had to work, they couldn’t take care of mom and dad full-time, … and they couldn’t afford to have caregivers and people around the clock.” Thus the need arose for a greater variety of senior-living establishments: assisted living, retirement communities, retirement homes, and the like.

Kapson Senior Quarters was at the forefront of the industry boom, and its early efforts to get financing paid off in spades decades later. The company went public in the mid-1990s, was bought out a few years later, then Kaplan accepted a can’t-refuse offer that got him back into it all and led him to create Kaplan Development Group LLC. “We’d ended up with a lot of small mom-and-pop [investors] and one-offs that joined what we were doing, and a couple of us broke out of the mold and decided we were going to do it in a much bigger way,” he says. “It worked out to our advantage—and to the advantage of some of those companies that also went public with us at that point in time. It just sort of turned the curve.”

The result of his continued efforts is, today, Senior Management LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kaplan Development with a mission of developing top-notch senior-living spaces focused on compassion, integrity, and respect. More than a dozen Kaplan Development/Senior Management residences now stand in seven different states up and down the eastern seaboard, and for each project, Kaplan himself is involved with financing, acquisition, construction dollars, and oversight of the operational team—a corporate staff of 15 that he feels is key to his company’s success.

Kaplan Development
The All American is designed like a dorm: it emphasizes shared living spaces while still offering private sleeping quarters. “The [common areas] are being used, there’s activities, there’s always something going on,” Kaplan says.

Customer feedback, in a manner of speaking, is progressing at Kaplan Development as well, and proof of this can be found in one of its newest communities: the All American Assisted Living facility in Hanson, Massachusetts. At 48,000 square feet—compared to the 80,000–90,000 square feet of older structures—it’s more cost-controlled while still providing premium service to its residents. Kaplan Development found that an increasing number of clients with diminishing funds were wondering how to keep their senior family members in choice facilities. 

So, the company responded by focusing on a new design that is “more like a college dorm unit,” Kaplan says, explaining that the communities still have private sleeping quarters but also place a greater emphasis on shared living spaces. “The [common areas] are being used, there’s activities, there’s always something going on,” Kaplan says. “And, as a result, people are finding it to be very homey. So, it’s working exactly as we planned.”

In all, the two-story facility features 48 two-bedroom apartments, accommodates up to 16 residents with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairments, and boasts 24-hour security, a state-of-the-art emergency-response system, a bistro, a media room, and an arts and crafts room, among other amenities. Kaplan Development is looking to build 20–30 more properties like this one over the next few years.

“It’s nice to build something for a specific group of people and have it be successful—to know that you’re providing a service and taking care of people,” Kaplan says. “We continue to build more and get different mixes from within the industry … it’s very gratifying. That’s why we like to do it.”

Kaplan Development
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The All American Assisted Living facility in Hanson, MA, has 48 two-bedroom apartments and can accommodate as many as 16 cognitively impaired residents, and Kaplan hopes to build 20–30 more facilities just like it over the next few years.