Banking on its Own Fund, Laramar Opens California Office in Tough Market Conditions

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorIrvine, Calif.–Chicago-based Laramar Group has opened an office in Irvine, Calif. The office will be dedicated to pursuing value-add multifamily assets throughout the state, with an emphasis on the Bay Area and southern California, as part of the company’s strategy to acquire and manage such investments nationwide. Laramar’s first acquisition out of the new office is Archstone San Jose (pictured), which the company purchased for approximately $190 million. Located at 355 Kiely Blvd. in San Jose, Calif., the 948-unit, garden-style apartment complex will be renamed “The Park Kiely.”The Park Kiely was purchased on behalf of the Laramar Multi-Family Value Fund, which supports the company’s strategy of acquiring well-located properties with potential, and enhancing value through renovation and improved management.“The timing for this office was right because there is a stress on debt and equity right now,” says Keith Harris, vice president of investments, Laramar Group. “We have an advantage over many others because we have the fund.”Harris adds, “We look for investment opportunities in places where there is population growth, good quality of life and where housing is not exactly affordable. We take a low-end property and made it medium-class property. We are not acquiring properties that rent for $5,000 a month.”Greg Campbell, who has joined the company as vice president of acquisitions, will be heading the office. Prior to joining Laramar, Campbell was with Archstone, where he was responsible for California acquisitions. Over the past four years, Campbell sourced and participated in the acquisition of 32 apartment communities in northern and southern California, totaling over 9,000 units and nearly $2.4 billion in investments.“Availability of assets is clearly not what it used to be,” Campbell tells MHN. “The biggest challenge is getting access to capital, equity and debt, but we have an advantage over the others.”And even though the overall fundamentals are strong, occupancy levels have dropped, he says.The 31-building property features two- and three-story garden-style apartments, a clubhouse, fitness center, three tennis courts, five swimming pools, a sauna and sand volleyball courts, as well as a picnic area with barbeque grills and a playground. Laramar plans substantial renovations and upgrades to the complex, built from 1968-1972, including installation of new kitchen appliances, in-unit washers and dryers, lighting packages, and upgraded bathrooms.“As home prices remain out of reach for many renters, the property will offer upgraded apartments featuring superior interior design, completely renovated common areas and new amenities,” says Campbell. With this acquisition, Laramar has two properties on the West Coast that it owns and over 2,000 that it manages.