BY ANTHONY CLARK | Gainesville Sun
The Collier Companies sold an 80 percent share of The Enclave student apartment complex to a real estate investment firm, the buyer announced this week, and Trimark Properties sold The Courtyards apartments near the University of Florida campus to a Destin developer earlier in June. The deals make four major apartment community acquisitions — three for student housing — in the past seven months after four years of inactivity, as the apartment market shows signs of starting to turn around.
New York-based Madison International Realty acquired an 80 percent stake in The Enclave, a 412-unit garden-style community, as well as the 486-unit Seminole Grand apartments in Tallahassee from Collier for a combined $30 million. Collier retains a 20 percent share and will continue to manage the properties. The Enclave is at 3000 SW 35th Place. Collier CEO Andy Hogshead said the deal allows Collier to raise capital "at very attractive rates" and reduce their exposure in what has been a difficult student housing market in Gainesville for the past three years. Developers, including Collier, started building several new complexes before UF announced student enrollment reductions in recent years. "We're over-concentrated in Gainesville," Hogshead said. "The first lesson in portfolio finance is don't get too many eggs in one basket." Zac and Freddie Schinz, owners of Tiforp Development Corp. in Destin, bought The Courtyards at 1231 SW Third Ave. outright from Trimark. The deal closed June 8 for $16.5 million, according to Alachua County Clerk of Court records. Contemporary Management Concepts will manage the property.
The Courtyards, with 375 units, was Trimark's largest asset and it was time to redevelop or sell the 1968 property, said Phil Wagner, director of operations. Freddie Schinz said they plan to redevelop the complex. Its proximity to campus and the Innovation Square under development "makes it an ideal piece of property," he said. Zac Schinz said the education sector does relatively well in tough economic times, so the property is a good investment.
Other recent deals include American Campus Communities' purchase of Jefferson 2nd Avenue from JPI, both Texas companies, for $33.9 million in December. The community has been renamed 2nd Ave. Centre. Memphis-based MAA, a real estate investment trust, bought 4 Marta Apartments off Northwest 39th Avenue for $18.7 million in April from Fore Property Company of Las Vegas. The property, which is not student housing, was renamed The Retreat at Magnolia Parke. Hogshead said there is a pent-up demand for student apartment deals nationwide and the "supply-demand balance is coming back" in Gainesville after developers oversaturated the market. "Gainesville as a student market is no longer the pariah it was in 2008, 2009," Hogshead said. Occupancy rates for all apartment types in Gainesville were up to 91.9 percent in May from 88.1 percent a year ago, and effective rents — factoring in concessions — were up to $872 from $853, according to ALN Apartment Data Inc.
Hogshead said rental rates are still well below three years ago, though occupancy is back. Wagner said the market is "marginally better." "The market overall got off to a faster start this year, which gave rise to the idea that we were in some kind of recovery," he said. "A number of communities are behind where they were last year. What we have to do is wait for the leasing season to run full course." PUBLISHED JUL. 1, 2011