I met Mario Garcia, Jr. through an introduction by an architect back in 2004. Mario intended to purchase a property for his exploding company, EMSI, and needed some direction with the acquisition. We purchased a 50,000 SF office/warehouse building that EMSI still occupies.  Since that time, Mario and I have completed several transactions together, all the while getting to know and respect one another immensely.

Mario is emblematic of the self -made man. He has taught himself the art and craft of the medical device business, the banking business (the founding Chairman of  Gulfshore Bank), and the real estate business. Mario has transcended the traditional route of owning real estate: he went right into creating two full service real estate businesses that specialize in Senior Housing and Mission Critical Properties, like data centers and hospitals.

The Senior Housing group, called Validus Senior Living, was in the paper recently, for their initiative in combining Senior Housing facilities with the  unsatisfied need for care among retiring and retired athletes, most notably football players. The first of a planned 33 assisted living and memory care communities across the U.S. that will provide care for former NFL players will be built in Ocoee, outside Orlando.

“Validus Senior Living, developer Mark Bouldin and investment bank Piper Jaffray, are planning to invest $1.1 billion dollars over the next five years to develop the communities in major cities with high concentrations of retired NFL players. The effort has the endorsement of the NFL Alumni Association, which will provide marketing support under a strategic alliance with the developers.”

The concept hit home for me this Sunday, when I reached for my favorite section of the NYT: Sports.

The front page story was dedicated to the induction of Junior Seau, #55 of the Chargers, into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.   Junior was an outstanding linebacker, playing that position for over 20 years. Sadly, Junior committed suicide at age 43, just three years ago. He was found to have a” degenerative brain condition linked to repeated hits to the head.” Athletes that have sustained head and bodily injuries do so at the very highest of costs, and while well paid during their playing season, often pay dearly after they retire from the field.

It is comforting to know that there will be facilities like the ones Validus Senior Living is planning to accommodate our champions, on and off the field.

(If you would like to read the tribute written by Seau’s 21 year old daughter, Sydney Seau, it can be found online at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/sports/football/junior-seau-hall-of-fame-sydney-seau-speech.html)



Sources: Tampa Bay Business Journal and NY Times