Lynd Breaks Ground on Green, Tech-Savvy High-Rise

Chicago—Lynd Development Partners broke ground on a 29-story, 249-unit luxury apartment development in the River North neighborhood, pegging completion for spring 2010.

The development, dubbed EnV, marks the San Antonio-based Lynd's entry into this market.

EnV will incorporate green building techniques under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, according to the company. The development will feature several tech-focused amenities, including a virtual concierge and V-Connect, an amenity system from Apple, Inc., which allows residents to integrate their security system via iPod or iPhone. EnV will also include a fitness center, a dog run, a rooftop deck and pool, and an Internet café.

Monthly rents are expected to range between $1,500 for a studio to $4,800 for a penthouse.

Opus Starts on 391-unit Suburban Community

Lisle, Ill.—Opus North Corp. broke ground in September on the Arboretum Landmark, a 391-unit luxury apartment community located here. The development, scheduled for completion in late 2009, will overlook the Morton Arboretum tree and plant sanctuary, a 1,700-acre park.

The development, located in the DuPage submarket, will offer one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments and includes a fitness center, an Internet café, and an outdoor swimming pool.

The company also plans to develop 150,000 square feet of office space on the site.

The DuPage apartment submarket is constrained. Since 2001, more than 1,200 units have been lost to condominium conversion, and only about 500 new rental units have come online in the last five years, according to Opus North.


Bozzuto Starts Work on the Fitzgerald

Baltimore—Chaos on Wall Street didn't stop the Bozzuto Group from financing the construction of 280 new luxury apartments in this city's cultural district.

Work started Oct. 1 at the Fitzgerald, a mixed-use development with 14,000 square feet of retail space and 1,245 structured parking spaces, located on 4.6 acres owned by the University of Baltimore. Bank of America and Citizens Financial Group made $52 million in construction loans to the Fitzgerald, which also received $23 million in equity from investors, including the New York State Teachers' Retirement System (NYSTRS).

The Fitzgerald is a joint venture between area developers Bozzuto Group and Gould Property Co., NYSTRS, and former Baltimore Raven Michael McCrary.

“The Bozzuto and Gould team have been great partners, and their ability to secure financing in these times is a testament to their strong reputation in the region,” says Robert Bogomolny, president of the University of Baltimore.

NYC Landlords Fight Rent Stabilization

New York City—Some buyers that paid top dollar for apartment buildings here can't raise rents fast enough, according to a report by local housing advocates at the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD).

During the real estate boom, investors bought about 90,000 of the 850,000 rent-regulated apartments in the city. Many buyers paid sky-high prices, assuming they could raise rents faster than rent stabilization rules allow, in part by evicting tenants who were breaking rent rules and deregulating their apartments. But the process is taking longer than expected, putting the new owners at risk of default. ANHD analyzed loans behind about a third of these deals and found that 60 percent are already on loan-servicer default watch lists.

Tishman Speyer Properties paid $5.4 billion, or nearly $500,000 per apartment, for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in 2006. The buyers spoke bluntly of their plans to nudge as many apartments as possible out of rent stabilization and anticipated nearly tripling the properties' net operating income in just five years, according to information from ANHD.

But income from the two properties actually fell in 2007 compared to 2006, as legal battles to deregulate apartments proved expensive and slow, according to local news reports and analysis from Commercial Mortgage Alert.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's recently downgraded bonds backed by loans to the apartments, saying, “Stuyvesant Town is now worth 10 percent less than what Tishman and BlackRock paid two years ago.”


Triumph Acquires Wall Street

San Antonio—Dallas-based Triumph Land & Capital Management, which specializes in acquisition and rehabilitation of distressed properties in the southern United States, recently purchased the 232-unit Wall Street property here from Metairie, La.-based MBS for an undisclosed price.

The property, constructed in 1995, is comprised of one-, two-, and threebedroom units. Amenities include a clubhouse, a fitness center, swimming pools, attached and detached garages, high-speed Internet, a conference room, and 24-hour emergency maintenance.

“This is one of the last assets still available in the well-publicized MBS portfolio where Apartment Realty Advisors has already negotiated over 15 of these distressed sales,” says David Wylie, a Houston-based principal at Apartment Realty Advisors, who represented the seller with Austin Managing Director Patton Jones and Associate Casey Fry.


McKinney Properties Buys Lincoln at DecaturDecatur, Ga.—A Pittsburgh, Pa.- based firm recently purchased a 252-unit Class A apartment property located in this Atlanta suburb.

McKinney Properties bought the Lincoln at Decatur apartments, adjacent to the Emory University campus, for $28.9 million. The community is also sited near the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a Veterans Affairs hospital. About 45 percent of tenants are affiliated with either Emory or one of those two institutions.

The property features one- and two-bedroom units, an athletic center, a private lake, and a fitness center.

The seller, a joint venture between Atlanta-based Lincoln Property Co. and Dallas-based INVESCO Real Estate, did a substantial rehab of the complex prior to the sale. The deal was brokered by Atlanta-based Apartment Realty Advisors. At closing, the property was 96 percent occupied.


Western National Opens New Community

Northridge, Calif.—Western National Realty Advisors has opened Meridian Place Apartments, a 202-unit complex within walking distance of California State University at Northridge.

The complex includes a clubhouse, an outdoor fireplace, a theater, and a resort-style pool. The apartments have washers and dryers, granite countertops, and high-speed Internet access. Rents start at $1,450.

Western National Property Management, one of three separate Western National entities, will manage Meridian Place.

Schwarzenegger Signs Landmark Bill

A bill that aims to encourage housing close to jobs has been signed by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The legislation, SB 375, from state Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) “would be the nation's most comprehensive effort to reduce sprawl,” according to The New York Times. The law is also the first to link land-use planning with greenhouse-gas reduction.

The legislation provides incentives for creating attractive, walkable, and sustainable communities and revitalizing existing communities. The bill also allows home builders to get relief from certain environmental reviews under the California Environmental Quality Act if they build projects consistent with the new sustainable community strategies. It will also encourage the development of more alternative transportation options, which will promote healthy lifestyles and reduce traffic congestion.