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$9.5M Purchase of Industrial Facility by Gramercy Property Trust

31 Oct 2013, 4:19 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

The real estate investment trust Gramercy Property Trust announced the acquisition of an industrial facility in Austin. The transaction went through after the company executed definitive agreements for a private placement of 11,545,200 shares of common equity at $4.11 per share. The Private Placement raised gross proceeds of $47.4 million.

The Austin building is about 120,350 square feet and was purchased all-cash for the price of $9.5 million.  The facility is entirely leased through October 2028 by a prominent provider of linen management services for the US health care industry. With a 7.56 percent initial cap rate and an 8.25 percent GAAP cap rate, the year 1 operating income is approximately $717,000 with fixed rent escalations throughout the lease term.

The industrial Austin market view shows an occupancy rate of 89.3 percent, the highest in the past 12 years. The leasing activity continued on a steady pace in the third quarter, tracking 206, 454 square feet of positive net absorption, shows a CBRE report. The warehouse product accounts for 66 percent of the citywide net absorption. Rates are on a rising trend on all product types, but at a limited speed. However, several institutional landlords offer a negotiable rate for projects with high vacancy because the size and term of the prospective tenants influence the rate.


Velocis Forms Partnership With Moors & Associates Through the Acquisition of Two Office Buildings

21 Oct 2013, 7:08 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

A new partnership has formed between Bethesda, MD-based Moore & Associates and Dallas-based Velocis Fund. The latter partner acquired the majority interest in two Class A office buildings. The first, Arboretum Atrium, is located at 9737 Great Hills Trails and the second being Las Cimas I at 804 Las Cimas Blvd. The two properties total 170,000 square feet.

Moore & Associates, the partner in the original investment who acquired both assets in 2004, will keep its minority ownership as well as continue to manage and lease the properties. Alfa Insurance Company, the other initial partner, sold its interest to Velocis who became the majority owner.

“These two assets are strategically located in prime demographic areas of Austin’s northwest and southwest subdivisions. Not only is Austin one of the most desired live-work-and-play cities, but the supply-constrained market makes this a perfect demand driven purchase,” says Mike Lewis, a Velocis principal and co-founder. “We have an ideal partner in Moore & Associates, who shares our in-fill location strategy and is a best in class management team.”

Arboretum Atrium encompasses 91,083 square feet of Class A office space and is recently renovated. It has a three-story atrium with skylights, indoor fountains and greenscapes. The fully-leased property in Northwest Austin is conveniently located near restaurants, shops, hotels and other area attractions, and it is just one block from Highway 183, MoPac and Loop 360.

Las Cimas I offers 82,787 square feet of office space and was built in 2000. The contemporary limestone façade is complemented by mature trees, views of downtown, and other on-site amenities. It is located in Southwest Austin, at the corner of Bee Caves and Loop 360.

Aside from the two office buildings, the Fund’s Austin portfolio includes a medical office building and the retail centers Woods Shopping Center and Springdale Shopping Center. With these purchases the asset value under management of the Fund reaches $264 million in Texas and Colorado.

World Class Capital Plans to Reposition Crestview Crossing Post Acquisition

14 Oct 2013, 5:58 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Once opportunity is identified, creating value comes next. Under this principle World Class Capital Group announced the acquisition of the North-Central Austin retail center located at 8120 Research Blvd, at the corner of Highway 183 and Anderson Square.

Chris Skyles of SkylesBayne Co. represented World Class in the transaction. Although the price has not been disclosed, the property has been listed with Cetera Realty Advisors for $4.1 million.

The space entails 42,000 square feet that is currently 86 percent occupied, with the largest tenant being the famed Austin comedy venue, Capitol City Comedy Club. World Class plans to invest in a consistent renovation with the intention to reposition the property as Crestview Crossing.

“We plan to make immediate capital improvements to reposition as Crestview Crossing, a neighborhood retail center for a budding community,” says Nate Paul, president and CEO of World Class Capital Group. “We see enormous potential in the North-Central Austin market, and this acquisition allows us to capitalize on the area’s high growth and strong demographic trends.”

According to a report issued by Marcus & Millichap, multi-tenant sales trends climbed 65 percent in the last 12 months. The median sales price of $277 per square foot shows a 61 percent increase compared to 2012, while the increase in the number of neighborhood centers that changed owners indicates less risk-averse from the investors’ part.

Huffines Communities Invests in Waterford at Lake Travis

8 Oct 2013, 9:16 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Huffines Communities has announced that it has acquired 51 lake view and lake front lots in the gated and custom homes community of Waterfront on Lake Travis community in Lago Vista, Texas northwest of Austin, adding to its first investment, Waterford Marina, located on Lake Travis’ north shore. A new marina built in 2010 and land that is slated for 70 lots is also part of the purchase.

The seller has been represented by CBRE and the offering was priced at $10 million. Huffines plans to use the uprising homebuilding market and sell the lots to individuals and custom builders.

“Homeowners who decide to build in Waterford will join a community that already features 67 custom homes valued from $800,000 to over $2 million” said Donald Huffines, co-owner of Huffines Communities. “These first 51 highly desirable lots – with outstanding views and lake frontage on Lake Travis – are ready to build on,” he added.

The area’s value has grown over time, becoming a primary home market with massive residential developments underway in the nearby perimeter. Located just 30 minutes from Austin, the area is ideal for families as there is a high school currently under construction only three miles away.

“Waterford at Lake Travis is also an exceptional neighborhood for boating enthusiasts,” said Phillip Huffines, the second co-owner and brother of Donald. “The Waterford Marina is a first-class marina with a variety of premium, covered boat slips that can be leased by anyone, not just Waterford homeowners.

“We believe in the growth potential of the marina segment and will continue to look at other marina purchases in the future,” he added. “We gain operational efficiencies from owning multiple marinas.”

Photo courtesy of CBRE

Luxury Whitley Apartments for Sale with CBRE

29 Sep 2013, 10:59 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

The Class A residential high-rise located in the heart of the Austin central business district, Whitley, is now listed for sale under the representation of CBRE Texas Multi-Housing Group. The building is located at 301 Brazos and was completed in 2013.

Whitley is a 16-story residential tower that offers 266 luxury studios, one- and two-bedroom units with 17 distinct floor plans that range in size from 514 square feet to 1,378 square feet. The residential area totals 222,666 square feet and is 62 percent occupied and 68 percent leased, while the 12,062 square feet of ground floor retail space is 100 percent occupied by Uncle Julio’s Restaurant and Royal Blue Grocery.

The apartments feature floor-to-ceiling windows with sliding glass doors, granite countertops, porcelain tile flooring in bathrooms, stainless steel Whirlpool appliances and full-size Whirlpool washer and dryers, HVAC units in each apartment, and fabric roller shades at all windows.

Community amenities include a conference room, business center, theater area, coffee bar and concierge service. At the sixth floor there is the cityscape pool with sundeck, a gourmet outdoor kitchen, covered outdoor yoga and exercise terrace, fitness studio, and indoor pool-level aqua lounge with catering kitchen. The building has gated parking with controlled access, a dog park with artificial grass and washing machine, structured parking and 25 private garages.

The property is located near the 1,000-room JW Marriott, currently under construction, with many entertainment options nearby and a Walk Score of 98 out of 100. Whitley also has a pending LEED certification and Austin Green Building 2-Star Certificate.

Photo courtesy of Whitley.

Brandywine RT and DRA Advisors LLC Form Joint Venture on $330 Million Office Properties

20 Sep 2013, 5:32 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Pennsylvania-based Brandywine Realty Trust, which specializes in the ownership, management and development of urban, town center and office properties, has announced a joint venture with New York-based DRA Advisors LLC that will place Brandywine’s entire office portfolio from the Southwest submarket of Austin into 50 percent ownership by each company.

Brandywine’s portfolio totals 1,398,826 square feet of space spread between the following 11 buildings: Barton Skyway, which has four buildings encompassing 786,845 square feet with 94.4 percent occupancy, the Park on Barton Creek, a fully-leased, two-building property with 205,195 square feet of space, 7000 West at Lantana, also fully-leased with two buildings that feature 136,075 square feet of space, and the final property, Cielo Center, which offers 290,711 square feet of space throughout three buildings and is 99.6 percent occupied.

Brandywine’s exclusive financial advisor is Eastdil Secured LLC.

In the transaction, which is expected to close early in the fourth quarter, the joint venture will pay $330 million ($236 per square foot) for the properties, representing a capitalization rate of approximately 6.7% cash and 7.0% GAAP.

Brandywine’s expectation of the sale is of $271.6 million of proceeds, post deduction of the $5.7 million paid for the transaction and venture formation costs. The intention of the two companies is to extend their investments in targeted Austin submarkets.

“Through our existing joint venture, we enjoy an excellent relationship with DRA Advisors and are excited to expand that platform into the Austin market,” says Gerard H. Sweeney, President and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust. ”DRA is a well-regarded real estate investor and this transaction enables us to harvest current value in the contributed portfolio, meaningfully participate in its future appreciation and create a co-investment vehicle to accelerate our growth in Austin with a high quality partner.  The going forward equity commitment by both parties positions us well to continue growing our position as one of Austin’s leading landlords.

“We have been pleased with our existing partnership with Brandywine in the mid-Atlantic region and we look forward to expanding our successful relationship into the vibrant Austin office market.  We believe that Austin is one of the most desirable investment markets in the country and, over time, we hope to increase the size of the portfolio and expand our market share.”

Photo courtesy of Brandywine Realty Trust.

Simon Property Group’s Barton Creek Square to Undergo Food Court Renovations

13 Sep 2013, 10:50 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Simon Property Group Inc., the Indianapolis-based real estate company that owns a large percentage of retail space in Austin, has started remodeling work at the food court in its Barton Creek Square shopping mall in Austin. Completion of the project is scheduled for November 2013.

Law Kingdon Architecture has been contacted to create the design and Law Company Inc. was selected as contractor for the upgrades.

The redesign entails the installation of bar-height seating equipped with charging stations, the addition of hand-washing stations, renovations to restrooms and extension of the already existing family restroom, and the replacement of the current flooring and seating that can accommodate 500 shoppers. The investment amount has not been made public.

Most of the works will be done at night so that it doesn’t affect the activity of the food court.

Barton Creek Square was built in 1981 and its last renovation took place ten years ago. It’s one of the largest shopping centers in Austin, encompassing 1.4 million square feet.

Besides Barton Creek Square, Simon owns and manages Austin’s The Domain shopping center and the Lakeline Mall. The company employs approximately 5,500 people across the United States and has a market capitalization of over $90 billion.

Photo courtesy of Simon Property Management.

ABoR Completes Plans for New Headquarters

9 Sep 2013, 4:42 am

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

The almost 9,000 members of the Austin Board of REALTORS (ABoR) have a new headquarters to look forward to in the future. ABoR announced its plans to start construction on a facility that will entail approximately 33,000 square feet on 5.2 acres. 

ABoR’s Chairman, Cathy Coneway, said in a press statement, “We’re thrilled to announce the plans for our new facility. ABoR’s members are technologically savvy and highly mobile. Our new building will be dedicated to giving them the member services they expect along with the technology and educational resources they need to serve consumers.”

The new building is valued between $11 million and $13 million and will include three auditoriums, several conference rooms, a member lounge, a computer lounge, staff offices, and one custom-designed room for members to meet with clients, take calls, and lead property closings and other types of work. All educational classrooms in the new headquarters will be equipped with video technology. One important aspect is that the building will be green certified by the city and will be environmentally friendly, reports the Austin Business Journal, and the reception area is already being built using lumber from the old Spaghetti Warehouse downtown.

The location for the new ABoR is 4800 Spicewood Springs Road, a place where Coneway hopes, “Not only will members be able to work and learn in the new space, but they will also be able to stop by the member lounge where they can take a break between classes and enjoy the views of Austin’s rolling hills. We want this to be a place where members can network with peers and recharge themselves and their mobile devices.”

The new investment strategy comes as result of the market shift—for years it has been more profitable to lease than own, explains Jay Gohil, Chair of the Facilities Task Force, but “now it’s time to buy.” The ground breaking is scheduled for September 12, allowing the members to move into the new building in December 2014.

$30 Million Office Development Broke Ground at Fifth Street and Congress Avenue

31 Aug 2013, 7:27 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

At 501 Congress Avenue, where the former annex of the Bank of America once stood, ground was broken for a $30 million office development. Stream Realty Partners purchased the site in April 2013 in a partnership with four other firms. 

The project is designed to have five stories that will fit between the Frost Bank and Bank of America towers. It will entail 116,000 square feet of office space, a lounge-like lobby, an atrium, a rooftop terrace, and 12,000 square feet of mixed space. Prospective tenants have already manifested interest in the retail, restaurant, and office space, according to Austin Business JournalLance Sallis, partner and brokerage/transaction specialist at Stream’s Austin office, is leading the project.

Responsible for the building’s architecture and interior design are Michael Hsu and Sixthriver Architects. Murals and other artwork will beautify the space, as well as walnut panels and terrazzo. A parking garage of eight stories is also planned for the building and it will replace the existing structure behind the office space after demolition.

Stream Realty Partners was founded in 1996 and it specializes in leasing and management services with over 100 million square feet of office, industrial, and retail assignments. From two partners the firm grew to 450 real estate professionals who handle over $1 billion in real estate transactions annually.

Photo courtesy of Stream Realty Partners.

Van Zandt Hotel Breaks Ground in Austin

25 Aug 2013, 9:59 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Austin’s Rainey District has a new construction site at Red River and Davis Streets. Previously expected to break ground in June, Hotel Van Zandt is being developed by JMI Realty and will be operated by San Francisco’s Kimpton Hotels, a company specialized in chic boutique hotels. The completion date is set for 2015. 

“Austin is not just the state capitol and location of the University of Texas, but also the heart of a booming live music scene and the epicenter of a thriving technology sector. It’s a perfect fit for our guest-centric, fun and slightly irreverent brand, and a city we’ve been eager to enter with the right opportunity for a while,” said Kimpton CEO Mike Depatie. “We are thrilled to be teaming up with JMI Realty again on this Austin property that will reflect both the city’s historic roots and its current, modern vibe.”

The development company has owned the land since 2006 but various factors, including recession, delayed the project which is now back on schedule. The boutique hotel will have 16 stories and 322 rooms and more than 12,000 square feet of space allocated to events and meetings, an individually conceived, chief-driven restaurant, lobby café, and an expansive pool deck and bar. The interior design work is in the care of renowned Mark Zeff.

Hotel Van Zandt is the seventh addition to Kimpton’s portfolio announced this year. The previous announcements were for properties in Savannah, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Palm Springs, Sedona, and Grand Cayman.

Photo courtesy of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Facebook page.

Construction Begins on Second Austin Westin Hotel

12 Aug 2013, 6:11 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

The Westin brand is coming to downtown Austin. White Lodging Services Corp. announced the groundbreaking of a second Westin hotel in a statement to the American-Statesman. The other Westin is an eight-floor, 241-room hotel located at the Domain. The new development is a joint venture between White Lodging, the Harry Whittington family and REI Real Estate Service LLC. 

The downtown hotel will be located at the northeast corner of East Fifth Street and San Jacinto Boulevard. This is just one-and-a-half blocks from the city’s convention center and a short walk to the city’s restaurants and music venues. “Developing this hotel next to our historic 6th Street District is another major step in the city’s economic development efforts,” said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the jobs and revenue White Lodging and Westin are bringing to Austin.”

The new hospitality asset will rise 17 stories with 366 rooms with a full-service restaurant, fitness center and 15,000 square feet of space dedicated to meetings and banquets. Its completion date is set for the spring of 2015.

Aside from meeting the growing demand for hotel rooms in the area, this Westin hotel is expected to boost the economy as it will add 140 permanent jobs and approximately $6.3 million in annual taxes. The cost for the project has not been made public.

White Lodging Services Corporation is headquartered in Merrillville, IN and was established in 1985. Its current portfolio consists of more than 172 hotels in 20 states, and the company works with leading brands such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

Photo courtesy of Starwood Hotels

Cypress Real Estate Advisors Plans Mixed-use Development for Austin

5 Aug 2013, 9:12 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Austin’s Burnet Road will be making room to accommodate a new mixed-use project designed by Cypress Real Estate Advisors. The site doesn’t require any zoning modifications as it is currently zoned for vertical mixed-use development. 

However, in order for Burnet Marketplace to exist, Pour House Pub located at 6701 Burnet Road will close this autumn before the demolition work scheduled for October. “Pour House will likely be occupying 3,000 square feet of the retail space at the northwest corner of the new project, and they will have exclusive use of a new 1,500-square-foot patio surrounding the large preserved heritage tree currently located in the outdoor bar area,” said Chase Hill, development associate with Cypress Real Estate. The heritage trees of the area will either be retained or relocated.

The development will be built on 3.9 acres. Cypress has also acquired 6601 Burnet Road. It will include 345 residential units of which 10 percent will be affordable for households at 60 percent of the median family income. The first apartment units will be delivered in November 2014. The project will also include 12,000 square feet of retail.

The general contractor is Denver-based Martines Palmeiro Construction. The architect is Dallas-based Good Fulton & Farrell Inc.

Cypress Real Estate Advisors has just completed construction of Lakeshore Pearl, a 230-unit development that’s currently 100 percent leased; a second phase will break ground by the end of 2013 with 295 units to be completed by November 2014. Two other projects are under construction, scheduled to be completed next year. Corazon at East Sixth and San Marcos streets with 256 units will be delivered in January, and Sabine, north of downtown, at the former Concordia University with 298 units will be delivered in October 2014.

Photo courtesy of Brentwood Neighborhood Association

Austin’s Lotus Village for Sale Exclusively through Marcus & Millichap

28 Jul 2013, 11:27 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

A new apartment complex has been put on the market as exclusive listing for Marcus & Millichap on a cash-to-existing-note basis. Lotus Village, built on 8.1 acres at 300 Ferguson Drive in north central Austin in 2012, has 222 units and is currently at 98 percent occupancy. 

“This infill asset is the premier apartment community in its submarket and features an upscale urban atmosphere,” said Kent Myers in a press release. Myers and Joe James are senior associates in the Austin office of Marcus & Millichap representing the seller.

Lotus Village offers apartments of one, two, and three bedrooms, ranging in size from 700 square feet to 1,239 square feet. Unit amenities feature faux-wood flooring, built-in computer desks and built-in microwave, black appliances, nine-foot ceilings, linen closets, private patios and balconies, and under-kitchen cabinet lighting packages. Detached garages and covered parking are also available in select homes, and all units have full-size washer and dryers.

Community amenities include resort style swimming pool with hot tub/spa and Wi-Fi that serves the clubhouse and the business center, outdoor barbecue grills, elevators, 24-hour fitness center, and controlled access security gates.

Photo courtesy of Lotus Village

Brandywine Realty Trust Shares Austin Office Portfolio with DRA Advisors LLC

19 Jul 2013, 11:40 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

An atypical marketing proposal pitched by Brandywine Realty Trust a few months back has been met with enthusiasm by DRA Advisors LLC. The offer proposed shared ownership of the 1.4 million-square-foot office portfolio in Austin.

This type of deal is quite unique for Austin, but it’s not uncommon in tier markets like New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. It proved to be successful as DRA Advisors LLC has been chosen to take 50 percent of the Austin office portfolio, reported the trade publication Real Estate Alert. The announced price for the transaction is around $165 million, but no closing date has been announced. 

Included in the deal are Class A office buildings in Southwest suburban Austin, not far from executive housing, close to the Central Business District and boasting superior asset quality. These are the Park on Barton Creek at 3700 and 3711 S MoPac Expressway, the Barton Skyway complex at 1221-1601 S. MoPac Expressway, 7000 W. William Cannon Drive, 7000 West at Lantana, and Cielo Center at 1250 Capital of Texas Highway.

The brokerage representing Brandywine is Eastdil Secured. This corporate advisory firm has been on the market since 1967 and has completed over $590 billion in transactions since 2006. The organization has 13 offices, but none in Austin.

Brandywine Realty Trust is a publicly traded company listed on the New York Stock Exchange with a $6 billion market capitalization. Their properties aggregate 40 million square feet in California, Delaware, Maryland, Metro DC, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.

DRA Advisors LLC is specialized in real estate investment and management services for institutional and private investors. Currently it holds over $10.5 billion in assets under management and has acquired over 1,000 properties valued at over $20 billion.

Photo courtesy of Brandywine Realty Trust.

Karlin Real Estate Sells GMC Building to Gladstone Commercial Corporation

12 Jul 2013, 2:28 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

One of the four national Innovation Centers of General Motors Company has changed owners. Los Angeles-based Karlin Real Estate has rolled over the property located at 717 E. Parmer Lane in North Austin to Gladstone Commercial Corp. for $57.5 million, reports the Austin Business Journal. At the same time, Gladstone announced it placed a 10 year non-recourse loan through Cantor Commercial Real Estate that covers at least part of the acquisition amount. 

Mark Emerick and John Barksdale of CBRE represented Karlin in the transaction. “Acquiring this high quality facility is consistent with our growth strategy,” said Buzz Cooper, senior managing director of Gladstone. “The buyer and seller, as well as lender teams, worked together seamlessly to navigate a complicated process to execute a successful transaction for all parties.”

The 320,596 square-foot multi-story building was built by Dell Inc. in 2000 and purchased by Karlin in July 2012. It’s been quite the good luck strike for Karlin which purchased the building empty of tenants but soon after the acquisition welcomed General Motors as sole occupant. Depending on the acquisition amount it paid last year, the sale that closed a few days ago can mean a high profit in this property-flipping move. Travis Central Appraisal District valued the property at around $22 million.

Gladstone Commercial Corporation is a REIT that currently owns 84 properties. Their investment interest targets leased industrial, commercial and retail real estate that generally range from $5 million to $30 million.

Photo credits: CBRE

OakPoint Acquires Briarcroft and Continental Buildings in Austin

14 Jun 2013, 3:10 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Nashville-based OakPoint Investments purchased two of Austin’s office buildings in partnership with local Haverwood Management. Details about the transaction have not been disclosed.

“Given our cost basis and the dynamic locations of both buildings, we are excited about the long term potential of these assets. We have spent considerable time searching for value in the Austin market, believing that the comparability of Nashville to Austin will allow us to employ a similar strategy in both cities successfully,” said James Granberry, one of the four members of the company’s leadership team. 

The latest acquisition represents number ten in the company’s portfolio since its launch two years ago. The two office buildings are the Briarcroft Building located at 12710 Research Blvd and the Continental Building at 9101 Burnet Rd. Briarcroft is a class B office development built in 1984, encompassing 65,318 square feet. The Continental is also class B of 58,700 square feet with 205 parking spaces.

“We’ve found success by focusing on investment opportunities that are too big for the average private investor, but are also under the radar screen of institutional capital. Although the purchase price on this asset would typically garner institutional attention, the fact that they were in different submarkets with different tenant profiles kept many of the typical players away,” explained Justin Albright, a principal at OakPoint.

The new owners are planning to invest in upgrades and renovations for both buildings. Haverwood Management will manage and lease both buildings.

OakPoint is a real estate advisory and investment company that handles lease negotiations, acquisitions, sales, and management projects on behalf of corporate and investor clients. The partners have completed over $2 billion in transactions on behalf of clients and over $425 million in principal transactions. The targeted investments are in the office, multifamily, residential, retail, and light-industrial sectors.

Photo credits: CBRE

Presidio Apartments Becomes Bell Lake Creek after Bell Partners Acquisition

7 Jun 2013, 2:36 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

The Austin Presidio Apartments community was recently acquired by investors from Bell Partners Inc. on May 30. The transaction cost has not been made public, but the property—which will stay under the management of Bell Partners—will change its name into Bell Lake Creek. 

The residential complex is located at 10015 Lake Creek Pkwy. in one of the city’s best employment areas next to Austin’s high-tech corridor and main retail centers.

Nickolay Bochilo, vice president of investments at Bell Partners, said: “We are pleased to further our strategy by expanding presence in our core markets—such as Austin, Texas—and focusing on high quality locations with strong supply and demand fundamentals.”

With the acquisition of the Austin apartment community, Bell Partners has invested more than $190 million in residential properties.

Bell Lake Creek totals 250 apartments that range from one- to three- bedroom floor plans, with an average unit size of 964 square feet. The 24-hour fitness facility, the swimming pool with sundeck, the clubroom for residents, and the picnic area equipped with grills are just a few of the community’s amenities.

Founded in 1976, Bell Partners Inc. specializes primarily in acquisition and management of high-quality apartment communities located in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Southwest United States. The company offers complex real estate services, with expertise in acquisitions and dispositions, financing, property operations, and all related support functions.

Listed by the National Multi Housing Council as the 7th largest apartment operator in the country, the company has a portfolio of more than 69,000 homes divided in 248 apartment properties valued at approximately $4.4 billion, as well as over 1,700 associates.

Photo credits www.bellapartmentliving.com

Digital Realty Acquires Six-Building Portfolio for $31.9M

31 May 2013, 2:21 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

The six-building portfolio of operating data centers and flex office space at the MetCenter Business Park in Austin has changed owners, moving under the Digital Realty Trust Inc. umbrella. The acquisition price was $31.9 million. 

“The acquisition of this portfolio achieves several key objectives for us,” said Scott Peterson, chief acquisitions officer at Digital Realty. “It expands our existing data center footprint in the Austin market while providing stable cash flow immediately at an attractive going-in cap rate.

“Second, it provides near-term opportunity to add value by lease existing vacant space. And third, it offers the option to convert a portion of the property to data center space over the longer term as leases expire.”

The six buildings encompass 337,000 square feet that are currently 90 percent leased to data centers and biotechnology, technology and telecommunication enterprises. Two of them, totaling around 100,000 net rentable square feet, are data centers 100 percent leased to three tenants. The other four consist of flex office space.

“This acquisition adds inventory to a market where we have already seen substantial absorption at our existing facilities, as well as strong demand from enterprise customers,” stated Michael Foust, CEO at Digital Realty. “It is a continuation of our strategy of growing a world class data center portfolio in markets where our customers want to be located.”

Digital Realty Trust Inc. has taken on the mission of delivering data center solutions to its clients through secure, reliable and cost effective facilities, customized to serve the client needs. It has expanded its forces in 32 markets throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Its portfolio numbers 122 properties amounting to 22.7 million square feet as of April 26, 2013, plus an extra 2.6 million square feet of space allocated for further development.

Photo credits www.metcenter.com

New Office Tower to Break Ground in Downtown Austin

24 May 2013, 1:59 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, associate Editor

A 29-story office building will break ground in downtown Austin on June 4. The project belongs to Cousins Properties Incorporated, a major player in the city’s real estate market that has placed a number of important buildings on the Austin skyline, including Palisades West, Frost Bank Tower and the latest purchase—816 Congress.

“We have a long, successful history in Austin and are very excited about the prospects for Colorado Tower,” said Larry Gellerstedt, president and CEO of Cousins, in a statement for the press. “This building—with its great location and best-in-class amenity package—is particularly well positioned to capitalize on the vibrant market in Austin’s central business district.”

The Colorado Tower will be located in the downtown area at 3rd and Colorado Streets. It is designed by Duda/Paine Architects and will deliver 371,000 square feet Class A office space. A top quality fitness facility and modern conference center are among the planned amenities.

The development is being built under the Austin Energy Green Building 2 star program and is expected to be completed by December 2014. Costs for the Colorado Tower have not been disclosed.

Law firms DuBois, Bryant & Campbell and Scott, Douglass & McConnico LLP are the first to sign a pre-lease agreement, occupying 18 percent of the space in the building. Tim Hendricks, senior vice president of Cousins in Austin, considers this “a testament that we’re delivering the right product at the right price point for the customers of downtown.” The developer is in active discussions with other prospective tenants.

Boston based Cousins Properties Incorporated has wide experience in different branches of the real estate business. The company invests in office and retail projects; is active in development, acquisition, financing, management and leasing; and is part of a real estate investment trust (REIT).

 Chart courtesy of CBRE.

Elco Landmark Partners in Acquisition of Four Multifamily Properties

17 May 2013, 3:13 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Four garden-style multifamily properties in San Antonio and the Austin submarket of Round Rock have been acquired by a newly formed partnership between Elco Landmark Apartment Trust Holdings LLC, DeBartolo Development LLC and LEM Capital. The combined price is of approximately $44 million.

The four communities total 771 units with a 95 percent occupancy level. Amenities include a clubhouse, swimming pool, spa/hot tub, tennis courts, picnic areas, fitness center and laundry facility. Renovation and repositioning programs are planned in order to improve the physical structure and aesthetics of the properties, as well as to increase the value and financial gain opportunities.

The former Hampton North, today Landmark at Amelia Ridge, is located at 1500 Lawnmont Dr. in Round Rock, Texas. It has 188 units that were built in 1985. Landmark at Auburn Manor was known before acquisition as Vista Ridge and is located at 1200 South Mays St., also in Round Rock. Its 200 units were built in 1984.

The other two residential communities—Landmark at Atrium Commons and Landmark at Stratton Park—are located in San Antonio and were built in 1983 and 1985, containing 256 and 127 units, respectively.

“The acquisition of these assets is another example of our unique ability to source attractive investment opportunities in high-growth metropolitan markets located across the South,” said Joseph Lubeck, CEO of Elco Landmark Residential. “We look forward to leveraging our redevelopment and repositioning expertise to improve the quality of each asset, creating an enhanced living environment for tenants while allowing us to capture unrealized cash flow potential.” 

Elco Landmark Residential is a real estate investment firm headquartered in Tampa, Fla. that manages and owns interests in 17,762 units from 59 multifamily properties spread across the Southeastern part of the country. The company’s mission is to purchase mid-income multifamily properties below market value and reposition them on the South market where they have competitive advantage and plenty of expertise. DeBartolo Development LLC is one of the largest privately owned real estate development companies in the country, and LEM Capital is a real estate fund manager.

 Chart courtesy of Marcus & MIllichap

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