As venerable builder Trammell Crow Residential (TCR) hunkered down through one of the worst recessions the apartment development industry has ever seen, CEO Charlie Brindell outlined a plan last winter to revive and refocus the company, which had seen its starts dip from 27,167 multifamily units in the 2006 to 2008 timeframe to zero in 2009. It now looks like TCR's leadership has decided the best plan is to pull the Trammell Crow name out of development altogether. In an announcement e-mailed earlier today, Brindell announced the formation of Mill Creek Residential Trust (MCRT), effective August 1, 2010, to “be engaged in the development, construction, and acquisition of multifamily communities across the United States.”

Brindell wrote that the revamped TCR will continue as an “active operating business.” Though he offered no specifics, it could be assumed based on his prior comments that the company will focus on the asset management of its existing 30,000 apartment units. TCR will be led by former executive managing director in charge of asset/portfolio management Ken Valach, who will now serve as president and CEO.

Mill Creek will include 70 associates and its organizational chart is filled with former Trammell Crow veterans, including Chip Bay and Darren Schackman. The structure of Mill Creek will remain the same as Brindell’s TCR team with Michael Melaugh (head of capital markets); Mike Collins (West Region leader); Bill MacDonald (East Region leader); and CFO Mark Dempsey (head of finance and investments) reporting directly to Brindell.

“As you know, the other Mill Creek principals and I have a rich legacy of experience and success at Trammell Crow Residential, and we are excited by, and look forward to, the many opportunities ahead for Mill Creek Residential Trust,” Brindell said in the e-mail.

The announcement still leaves a number of questions unanswered, such as what the relationship will be between Mill Creek and TCR; whether Mill Creek will operate as a stand-alone entity; and whether Brindell and his leadership will still have a role at TCR.

Executives from TCR and Mill Creek weren’t available for comment.