In 1931, the Texas & Pacific station welcomed rail passengers to Fort Worth with Art Deco elegance. The lobby was resplendent with marble floors, gilded ceilings, and extravagant chandeliers. In addition to serving passengers, the building included 11 floors of office space.
When Wood Partners was founded in 1998, we were a firm dedicated to the development of high-quality apartments. We still are–but today the percentage of rental apartments in our development portfolio has dropped from 90 percent to 30 percent, with the other 70 percent focused on for-sale condos.
As you walk through the archway and on the white carpet to the entrance of this condo sales party, you feel like you're entering the circus. Men in referee shirts are jumping on a trampoline, which gives them the power and lift to bounce off a wall at a 90-degree angle. Another man walks with stilts–he too is bouncing up and down. When a waiter offers you a fruity orange concoction, you feel like you have no choice but to accept after watching this surreal, acrobatic scene.
While newspapers and magazines have been marveling at historically low mortgage rates, the story to watch in multifamily has been the incredible slide of cap rates. Despite weak apartment fundamentals, cap rates have fallen from their historical levels to lower than 5 percent in some hot markets. Such trends have resulted in new strategies at many apartment firms, as they assess the best ways to operate in such an environment. In this edition of Conference Call, you'll hear the stories and strategies of three high-level multifamily executives: Keith Oden, president and COO of public REIT Camden Property Trust; Leonard Wood, CEO of Atlanta-based Wood Partners; and Keith Harris, executive vice president—investments of the Chicago-based Laramar Group.
If Leonard Wood had left Trammell Crow to start an ice cream stand, Donna Hawkins says she would've followed him. And Wood's longtime executive assistant obviously isn't alone. When Wood resigned from Trammell Crow in 1998 to launch Wood Partners, roughly 60 Trammell Crow employees, including senior leaders Jerry Durkin and Jim Simpson, went with the mild-mannered executive.