The deal announced May 1 through which Bickford Senior Living will lease five more assisted living and memory care communities from National Health Investors is not the limit to the Olathe, KS-based operator’s growth with the Murfreesboro, TN-based real estate investment trust, NHI executives said Tuesday during the REIT’s first-quarter earnings call.

NHI acquired the former Sunrise Senior Living communities from LTC Properties for a total investment of $69.75 million, including $500,000 in capitalized transaction costs and $1.75 million for capital improvements. All of the communities are in upscale areas — in the Cleveland suburb of Rocky River; the Columbus, OH, suburbs of Bexley, Upper Arlington and Worthington; and in Erie, PA — and they have a combined total of 320 units.

“We are delighted to once again expand our relationship with Bickford Senior Living,” NHI President and CEO Eric Mendelsohn said. “This recent acquisition is another great example of NHI’s ability to facilitate growth for its operating partners.”

The REIT’s business relationship with Bickford now involves 52 leased communities, and three more are in development.

“We love our relationship with Bickford. We want to try and grow more with them,” Chief Investment Officer Kevin Pascoe said.

Outside of the communities in development, he added, other opportunities for growth “would just be more opportunistic in nature, similar to the deal we recently closed” and based on the size and market of the communities that become available.

“When we looked around and talked to various operators, it just became very clear that they were the right choice for these buildings,” Pascoe said of the newest Bickford properties. They represent a “good value-add opportunity” for the operator, he said.

“These communities are well-located in good markets and were acquired below replacement value, if we were to try to rebuild these new today,” Pascoe said.

Bickford and Senior Living Communities each represent 16% of NHI’s cash revenue, and NHI’s partnership with National Healthcare Corp. and Holiday Retirement each account for 14% of the REIT’s cash revenue, Pascoe said.