Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Chancellor Gardens changes hands

Published in the Current and the American Journal

With its principal owner in bankruptcy, the company that owned Chancellor Gardens on Scott Dyer Road has sold the Cape Elizabeth assisted living home, as well as a sister facility in Saco, to Commonwealth Communities of Massachusetts. The home has been renamed Village Crossings of Cape Elizabeth.

Abraham Gosman, who lives in Florida, was the majority owner of the company that owned Chancellor Gardens and Chancellor Place.

He was also a founder of Carematrix, the company that managed the Chancellor properties. Carematrix will not continue its management functions, according to Beth Derrico, a spokeswoman for the company.

Gosman, who made millions in real estate and healthcare, filed for bankruptcy in 2001, according to William King of Development Specialists Inc., the Miami-based firm that was appointed by the court as trustee for Gosman’s assets.

His filing was cited as an example of a problem some legislators see with the federal bankruptcy system – the unlimited homestead exemption. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisc., told the U.S. Senate in March 2001 that Gosman, while owing as much as $233 million, was keeping a 64,000-square-foot mansion in West Palm Beach, Fla.

In his Maine business dealings, Gosman had guaranteed a mortgage taken out by the Chancellor company, with the two homes as collateral. “The value (of the properties) was significantly less than the mortgage,” King said.

Rather than foreclosing on the homes, the lender agreed to cooperate in the sale of the properties and take the proceeds as partial payment of the debt, King said.

The change of ownership took effect March 1, bringing Chancellor Gardens and Chancellor Place in Saco into a company that already operates 12 nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities, six assisted living homes and four specialized hospitals in Massachusetts.

“This is our first step into Maine,” said David Calendrella, vice president of operations for Commonwealth Communities.

Last year Commonwealth bought two Massachusetts nursing homes from the same owners.

“They proved to be quality facilities,” Calendrella said. That experience led to this recent deal.

“We’re very bullish on the Maine marketplace,” he said.

The company does not have significant plans to change things at Chancellor Gardens. “At the moment, the plan is to introduce ourselves as the new owners,” Calendrella said. No staff changes are in the works, he said. Everyone has signed on with the new owners.

Calendrella plans to pay close attention to hiring practices and employee supervision, in the wake of an employee’s February arrest on charges of stealing medication from several patients. He said the company would be open about any problems that might arise.

It is the second turnover of a senior living facility on Scott Dyer Road in three months. In January Haven Healthcare of Cromwell, Conn., took over the management of the Viking Nursing Home and Crescent House, with plans to take ownership in the next several months.