Hospitals and physician groups are embracing third party ownership, management and development of real estate because it has the ability to preserve capital resources for acute care needs, eliminate the conflicts that arise in the landlord/tenant relationship and minimize the potential legal and regulatory challenges associated with leasing space to referring physicians.
Many partnership synergies and dispositions have been publicized through our organization’s newsletter, but a new trend is occurring in which small providers up to large systems are utilizing third parties to develop and own new medical real estate projects. This trend has the potential to have a significant impact on capital structure decisions for going forward.
The use of outside capital to fund non-core real estate assets has been used with improved adoption in corporate America to facilitate growth and expansion. Retailers such as Wal-Mart, CVS and Walgreens, which are becoming stronger competitors in providing healthcare, have all increased liquidity and implemented cost efficiencies using third party capital and development expertise to fund billions of real estate expansion over the last few decades.
As for the development of medical facilities, healthcare providers may choose a few approaches that have been highly successful.
One. Providers may select to develop a project internally using an owner’s representative in place of the traditional developer. The owner’s rep determines the size and scope of the project and works with architects, engineers and the general contractor to build the facility. The provider is responsible for procuring entitlements and utility easements and covering the costs for the site preparation process. In this scenario, third party consultants may be employed to assist with these individual processes. The hospital is also responsible for the leasing and management of the building, although it may appoint a property management firm.
Two. Another approach is through the use of a third party to develop the medical facility for a fee. The third party will receive a fee for its services. In this case, the provider is contracting the developer’s expertise, which commonly includes feasibility analysis, project guidelines, pre-leasing, management of the entitlement process, value engineering for the project, negotiating the contract with the general contractor, as well as project management.
Three. A third party developer and owner both develops and owns the building through its completion. The developer/owner performs all the same functions as the fee-based developer. The main difference is that the developer assumes all of the risks and benefits of the development process and the ownership. A fee-based developer may have an incentive to reel the project in at a contracted cost and within a specified timeframe. The developer-owner has the same incentive, but is likely to strategize on ways that will lower costs of the long-term ownership, because this will ultimately determine the owner’s total cash flow and return on investment. Furthermore, a developer-owner has an incentive to minimize the size of the building to assure high occupancy rates, which has the ability to create conflict with the providers longing for vacant space to accommodate future needs.
If you should have any questions or require a proposal for a medical development under one of these three proven commercial real estate development strategies, please contact MREA at 713.701.7900.