January 17, 2020
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Chicago firm buys The Highlands retirement community in Topsham

TOPSHAM, Maine — The Highlands, one of southern Maine’s largest retirement communities, is in the process of being sold to a Chicago-based investment group.

John Wasileski, owner and developer of The Highlands, announced Friday that he is selling the retirement community but plans to retain nearby Highland Green and several other properties.

Wasileski, as founder and president of Sea Coast Management, has sold The Highlands to CPF Living Communities, a subsidiary of Chicago Pacific Founders — a group that specializes in senior housing-related investments. It will be operated by its long-time management consultant, Grace Management Inc., recently acquired by Chicago Pacific Founders.

The sale price was not disclosed.

Opened in 1990, The Highlands campus has grown to its current size of 350 residential living units and 140 employees and is home to more 450 residents. The sale includes the Highlands Retirement Community and its affiliated properties — Highlands Maine Lodge & Friendship Cove Assisted Living, Cadigan Lodge and the Governor King Community, with the employees at The Highlands transferring to Grace Management.

“This sale represents a major investment in the future of The Highlands that is good for our region and the state,” said Wasileski. “Chicago Pacific Founders is made up of experienced partners with deep expertise in the health care and aging markets. More importantly, our history with Grace goes back to 2006.

“I hand-picked Gene and Mari Jo Grace to begin this next chapter,” he added. “They bring to The Highlands over 30 years of experience managing senior living environments across the country.”

“We are excited to become a part of The Highlands family and further enhance the experience of all our residents, staff and their families,” said John Rijos, chairman and chief executive officer of CPF Living Communities. “This is a giant step forward for Chicago Pacific Founders and we intend to build on the great legacy started by John Wasileski and his team.”

Mari Jo Grace, founder and EVP of Operations for Grace, said, “We’ll be working collaboratively with all of the employees, residents and vendors to ensure a smooth transition with some exciting new developments being discussed. The Highlands is an extraordinary place and we’re honored to be part of its future.”

In addition to the sale, Sea Coast and CPF announced that they are entering into a joint venture to complete the final phase of construction of the Town Hall Village, which includes the remaining lots and the historic building conversion that are currently underway.

The remaining Sea Coast Management portfolio of communities, including OceanView at Falmouth and Highland Green in Topsham, as well as recently announced projects in Portland, are not included in this transaction.

Grace Management Inc. has worked with more than 150 senior living communities in 24 states, providing sales and marketing support, operational efficiency improvements and management support. Chicago Pacific Founders is a private investment group that invests exclusively in senior living communities and health care-related investments. Through its subsidiary, CPF Living Communities and its management platform, Grace Management Inc., it acquires, develops and manages high-quality retirement properties across the country.

Wasileski told The Times Record that Grace Management, a consultant for The Highlands for the last six or seven years, has a similar management style and similar standards, so residents and the community should not experience significant change as a result of the sale.

The real impetus for the sale, Wasileski said, is that, “I’m 62 this year and time waits for no one.” He isn’t retiring, however, and will still stay busy.

The normal hourlong commute from his longtime home in Lyman to Topsham is the other reason he wanted to downsize. He will still be active with the company with projects underway.

He will stay involved in OceanView in Falmouth and a project in Portland he’s working on, “and will still be involved in moderate income housing.”

After almost 40 years as a retirement community developer, Wasileski said it’s time to slow down.

“Do it when you can and not when you have to,” he said, attributing that advice to lessons he’s learned from retirement community residents.

Residents at Highland Green have access to the pool, dining hall and public transportation at The Highlands and have been told they shouldn’t see things change. Wasileski said the new owners have said they plan to continue that relationship.

 



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