Jay Curran was recently named Archstone’s vice president of development for Texas. He talks to MHN about capitalizing on opportunities in the region.
MHN: What do you aim to accomplish in your new role?
Curran: The goal is to explore the opportunities that Texas has to offer and secure development deals that will not only add value to Archstone but also add value to the neighborhoods our apartment communities serve and will eventually serve.
MHN: Is Archstone taking a particular interest in Texas as a market for new development?
Curran: We’ve had a presence in Texas for a very long time and still feel like there’s significant opportunity in the markets where we’re established, such as Houston and Dallas. But no matter what we do, our focus is on win-win scenarios in which everyone benefits, including the residents living in the neighborhoods, our partners and our lenders.
MHN: The new 474-unit luxury apartment community you’re developing near Houston’s Texas Medical Center looks to be in a prime location. Can you tell us about the process of making that project a reality and about the potential of that area in general?
Curran: We agree that an apartment community near the Texas Medical Center is a prime location. The Texas Medical Center is the largest medical center in the world. It employs nearly 100,000 people and has an aggressive growth plan. That’s going to drive demand for apartment rentals in the area. And we’re exploring opportunities to capture as much of that demand as possible. We’ve already begun construction and hope to have the community ready for first move-ins by summer of 2012.
When the Shriner site was made available, we knew the location was highly desirable because the West Inner Loop is a major employment base for the city with exceptional neighborhoods and numerous amenities. We competed with numerous other apartment developers in 2007 to acquire the site from the owners of the Arabia Shrine Center, because of its incredible location. In the end, we were the successful purchaser.
MHN: What is Archstone’s strategy when confronting the challenges of obtaining construction financing? The theme in multifamily lately, when it comes to building, has been supply chasing to catch up with demand.
Curran: It’s a slow and laborious process. You have to meet a lot of lenders, you have to get them comfortable with a lot of factors and hope to find the right financial partner to partner with. Lenders are very selective today, but they want to make loans to successful developers like Archstone for great projects in excellent locations like Braeswood.
MHN: Three years after the housing market folded in on itself, how is your approach to development different than it was pre-crash?
Curran: Our development team is leaner and we are even more selective than we have historically been. Our focus has been and it remains on developing communities in fantastic locations in the best neighborhoods in our nation’s premier cities.