Lead Free

HUD is making nearly $100 million in Recovery Act funding available to help eliminate dangerous lead-based paint, as well as other health and safety hazards, from low-income homes. The grants will help 53 local programs in 20 states and the District of Columbia. In the past several weeks, HUD has announced the availability of a number of competitive funding opportunities, including $1 billion to support state and local government via the Community Development Block Grant Program;$1 billion for substantial improvements to thousands of public housing units through Public Housing Capital Funds; and $252 million to improve housing and spur economic development for Indian tribes and Alaskan native communities.

Jump Starter

Verona Apartments, Bellevue, Wash.
AvalonBay Communities Verona Apartments, Bellevue, Wash.

It took five months, but the first acquisition of the year by a multifamily REIT closed in May when Alexandria, Va.-based AvalonBay Communities purchased the Verona Apartments in Bellevue, Wash., for $33.1 million.The deal represented a steep discount, 45 percent below the company’s estimated replacement cost of the community, or what it would cost to build it today. The seller was Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., which acquired the property in early 2000 for approximately $24.5 million. The year’s first REIT acquisition isn’t a signal that the transaction market will suddenly pick up, but it is a positive sign, says Robert White, president of New York-based market research firm Real Capital Analytics. The deal for the 220-unit structure was the first to be done through AvalonBay’s Value Added Fund II, a $400 million equity fund that closed in April.  

Workers Comped

Citing tough economic conditions and the selfless commitment of the nation’s legions of service workers, Montvale, N.J.-based Emperian Property Management announced a Service Appreciation Program in May. The program offers a 30 percent rent discount to teachers, nurses, police, firefighters, postal employees, EMT, active and retired military personnel, and members of the National Guard. Approximately 5 percent of the company’s 40,000-unit portfolio across 17 states will be set aside for resident prospects who qualify for the program. In addition, for every 100 leases signed under the Service Appreciation Program, Emperian is offering a one-year, rent-free lease to any family who has lost their home due to foreclosure.

Appetite for Destruction

Condo tower in Miki City, Japan
Condo tower in Miki City, Japan

Over the past year, Simpson Strong Tie has been assisting in the construction of a nine-story multifamily building in Miki City, Japan, featuring 23 one- and two- bedroom units.In June, the building was subjected to a series of increasingly violent earthquake simulations to help guide future multifamily design philosophies, approaches to property management during crises, and even the application of renter’s insurance in earthquake-prone areas. Funded in part by a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the tests are a collaborative effort between Simpson Strong Tie and major engineering universities to develop new design approaches for taller wood-frame buildings in urban, earthquake-prone areas.