Senior living still represents a small part of the Omega Healthcare Investors portfolio but is growing in importance, company executives told shareholders and analysts participating in a first-quarter 2018 earnings call on Tuesday.

“At the end of the fourth quarter, Omega’s senior housing portfolio totaled $1.5 billion of investments on our balance sheet,” said Steven Insoft, chief corporate development officer of the Hunt Valley, MD-based real estate investment trust. “Anchored by our growing relationship with Maplewood Senior Living and their best-in-class properties, as well as Healthcare Homes and Gold Care in the United Kingdom, our overall senior housing investment now comprises 127 assisted living, independent living and memory care assets in the U.S. and UK. On a standalone basis, this portfolio not only covers its lease obligations at 1.22 times, but also represents one of the larger senior housing portfolios amongst the publicly listed healthcare REITs.”

All of Westport, CT-based Maplewood’s existing properties are in Omega’s portfolio, with an additional one expected to open by fall 2019.

That community, previously announced as Inspir Manhattan but now called Inspir Carnegie Hill, will be a 215,000-square-foot assisted living memory care high rise at Second Avenue and 93rd Street in New York City.

The project is expected to cost approximately $250 million, Insoft said. The high rise will be Maplewood’s first presence in New York state. Its existing communities primarily are in Connecticut and Massachusetts, with three in Ohio.

During the first quarter, Omega exercised a partial purchase option buyout, for $50 million, of 13 Maplewood properties. The communities not affected are Inspir Carnegie Hill; Maplewood at Southport, Southport, CT; and Maplewood at Brewster, Brewster, MA, said Omega CEO Taylor Pickett.

“In conjunction with the partial purchase option buyout, we extended the leases on all of the Maplewood properties in addition to pushing out and staggering the dates of the remainder of the purchase options,” Insoft said. “We structured the $50 million buyout investment in a manner to not only minimize the tax leakage to Maplewood and its principals, but also to maximize the amount of operator capital to fund future growth.”

Omega invested $38 million in the first quarter in new construction and strategic reinvestment, he said, and $19.5 million of this amount predominantly was related to 13 new construction projects that have a combined budget of approximately $500 million, including the Manhattan community, Insoft added. “The remaining $18.5 million of this investment was related to our ongoing portfolio [capital expenditure] reinvestment program,” he said.

For additional, skilled nursing-related news from the first quarter, see Omega’s website.