DES MOINES, IA-Following a solid performance of two retirement communities in the greater MSA, Pella, IA developer Ewing Land Development opted to sell, reaping a combined sales price of $40.8 million. Buyer Freshwater Group of Tucson now has control of the continuing care retirement communities, with its subsidiary, Watermark, handling the management duties.

The two senior housing properties in Freshwater Group’s possession are Village at Legacy Pointe at 1650 SE Holiday Crest Circle in Waukee, IA and Vriendschap Village at 2602 Fifield Rd. in Pella. Legacy Pointe is the newer of the properties; construction launched on the property, which offers 16 memory care units, 80 independent living units and a 48-bed skilled nursing unit in 2007. Vriendschap Village, which offers 34 assisted living units, 50 independent units and seven memory care suites, was completed in 2001.

According to seller representative Mark Myers, Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services senior vice president, investments, the seller developed the assets, and decided to sell because of a lack of a management team. Myers operates out of Marcus & Millichap’s Chicago O’Hare office, as does his partner on the deal, senior associate Joshua Jandris.

The partners tell that the portfolio was marketed to a select group of qualified bidders, with the process winnowing the total down to four best and final. “Freshwater Group stood out because they had individual backing,” Myers notes. “It was important, to the seller, to sell to someone with an excellent reputation as an operator, which Watermark does.” Given that Jeff Ewing, owner of Ewing Land Development, resides in Pella, “he goes to the market and sees the family and children of residents at the property,” Myer says. “He wanted to sell the properties to a buyer that would take good care of the residents.”

Ewing Land Development has two other CCRCs in the Des Moines MSA; Vintage Hills at Prairie Trail at 1410 Magazine Rd. in Ankeny and Vintage Hills of Indianola at 604 E Hillcrest Dr. in Indianola. Watermark is managing those two assets as well, and Myers says Freshwater has the option to purchase them, once they’re stabilized. Both properties recently opened, and are in lease-up. Ewing Development, in the meantime, continues to build senior co-ops in the area. “Once he develops them, he sells them, and continues building more,” Myers says.