Mainstreet's facilities provide a better quality of life than most existing nursing homes

CARMEL, IN—Although considered unorthodox by some, the use of crowdfunding to develop real estate projects has started to win adherents, and Mainstreet, one of the nation’s largest developers of short-stay rehabilitation and long-term care properties, just raised over $1.6 million for a new Indiana care facility in a four-week period, company officials tell GlobeSt.com.

“Our CEO told us to find creative solutions to fundraising, to think differently and experiment,” says Scott White, chief operating officer of Mainstreet. That request led the firm into a partnership with CrowdStreet, an Oregon-based crowdfunding platform set up specifically to connect US accredited investors with real estate companies.

Mainstreet’s new 66,197-square-foot, Next Generation™ care and rehabilitation facility in Bloomington will feature 100 recovery suites. The company began construction in June 2014 and White says they will finish by May 2015. The facility will cost between $13 million and $14 million, but earlier this year, with construction financing already in place, Mainstreet was still looking to fill a gap.

The company typically raises money from family offices, high-net worth individuals, and other similar sources, and considered crowdfunding as a way to diversify its financing. “The pool of accredited investors is a very large pool,” White says. In general, the SEC will certify someone if they have an income of $200,000 or more, or a $300,000 income when combined with a spouse, or a net worth exceeding $1 million excluding the value of a home.

The $1.6 million Mainstreet recently finished raising from www.BuildMainStreet.com, a site created with CrowdStreet’s help, came from such accredited investors kicking in investments ranging from $10,000 to more than $250,000. The total represents a US record for crowdfunding from accredited investors in health care real estate, senior living and ground-up development properties, White says.

“We could have raised all the financing needed through crowdfunding,” he adds. But since investors usually want the sponsor to have some skin in the game, Mainstreet also directly provided about $1.5 million, which, added to the crowdsourced funds, completed the financing needed for the Bloomington project.

For Mainstreet, the technique not only diversifies its funding sources, it also helps build the company brand by getting its name in front of a far greater number of people.

“When we tell our story, people get it and really want to invest,” White adds. “Everybody knows somebody who has been in a nursing home,” and understands the need to replace the nation’s nursing homes, many of which are more than 40 years old, with new facilities that will also create jobs and pay taxes.

And from now on, crowdfunding “will become part of our toolbox in how we raise capital,” he says. However, Mainstreet is also trying to learn lessons from this latest round of fundraising. In the future, for example, the company may have investors put money into a group of projects, rather than the more time-consuming process of doing it one at a time. “That is something we are seriously considering.” The company currently has 17 projects underway, and next year expects to have about 35 under construction.

“Crowdfunding is in a very early stage,” White admits, but he has been asked to speak about it at several upcoming conferences. “I think it is a budding topic that people are trying to figure out; it’s at that tipping point.”