One of Many: Apogee New Dawn's Vista Clubhouse at the company's Vista Communities, a 696-unit Class A apartment community in Birmingham, Ala., is one property in the newly merged portfolio, which totals 14,000 units. Photo: Apogee New Dawn Boyton Beach, Fla.-based property management firm Apogee Cos. has completed its merger with Davie, Fla.-based multifamily developer New Dawn Cos., Apogee president and CEO Jeff Staley confirmed this week in an exclusive interview with Multifamily Executive. Financial terms of the deal were undisclosed.

"We've been working together for two months, and so far, it is a great relationship," says Staley, now president and CEO of the newly minted Apogee New Dawn, which has 310 employees and 14,000 units under management across nine states. New Dawn's CEO, president, and managing principal Sheila Mead will remain with the company to direct acquisition and development efforts.

Staley says the merger is the first of several deals planned for the next 12 months and will likely include multifamily ownership and third-party fee management portfolios. "I am very excited about 2009," Staley says. "I think it is going to be our biggest year in the past four."

Apogee New Dawn is currently investigating the purchase of a Colonial Property Trust apartment portfolio in the Birmingham, Ala., market as well as looking at purchasing a portfolio from an undisclosed North Carolina owner. Staley says the company is also in negotiations to acquire two "small to mid-sized property management firms" in 2009 that will increase its geographic presence in Mississippi, Nashville, and South Florida.

The merger, which took approximately 10 weeks to complete, combined Apogee's property management acumen with New Dawn's expertise in multifamily value-add acquisition and ground-up development. This was especially attractive considering the recession and distressed housing markets.

At the Helm: Apogee New Dawn president and CEO Jeff Staley will lead the company's aggressive growth plans in 2009. Photo: Apogee New Dawn "You have to find different avenues when the market cycles," Staley says. "I knew that if we could make the merger happen, it wasn't just an instant benefit, it was a long-term growth strategy. While the business is slow on adding new management contracts, we'll still pick them up via portfolio acquisition or new development."

Apogee New Dawn currently has two apartment development projects underway in Wellington, Fla., although the company has yet to break ground. "We've got the raw land that has some entitlements on it," Staley says. "They are prime sites for Class A properties, but getting the rent levels is tough. Then you need to get the lenders comfortable with taking the risk on ground-up development. It's another hurdle that we're working very diligently on. It's tough, but it's not undoable."