Owner plans to revamp foreclosed apartments

A Maryland improvement-focused real estate company bought the Chamberlayne Gardens complex late last month. Photos by Burl Rolett.

A Maryland improvement-focused real estate company bought the Chamberlayne Gardens complex late last month. Photos by Burl Rolett.

After falling into foreclosure more than a year ago, an expansive Northside apartment complex has a new owner.

Premier Cos. bought the 216-unit Chamberlayne Gardens property, which runs parallel with Chamberlayne Avenue and Old Brook Road, for $4.62 million in a deal finalized on July 30.

Premier Cos. is a Bethesda, Md.-based firm that targets underperforming properties. It bought the complex from Fannie Mae, which foreclosed on Chamberlayne Gardens in 2013.

Jonathan Cutler, CEO of Premier Cos., said the firm is planning a slate of upgrades to the property aimed at boosting its occupancy rate to 90 percent in the next year.

“Most of the up-to-date properties in the area are significantly over 90 percent occupied – this is sort of an outlier,” Cutler said.

The complex is currently about 75 percent occupied with rental rates ranging from $570 for one-bedroom units to $695 for two-bedroom apartments. Premier plans to add a new video security system and laundry facility, replace the windows and take care of some deferred maintenance repairs.

Chamberlayne Gardens covers about 11 acres with 20 apartment buildings that total about 140,000 square feet.

About three quarters of Chamberlayne Gardens' units are occupied.

About a quarter of Chamberlayne Gardens’ units are vacant.

The complex fell into foreclosure last year and lender Fannie Mae took the property back at auction, according to city records. The lending giant has managed the property through a special servicer since taking control of the apartments.

Chris Rice and Jeff Doxey of NAI Eagle brokered the sale. The property went to market in February 2014. Rice said it drew interest from turnaround-focused real estate firms, six of which made offers on Chamberlayne Gardens.

“(Cutler) has all the tools needed to position this property well in the market,” Rice said. “He has the infrastructure – from the management company to the construction ability – and he’s got the experience to manage the whole project.”

Premier financed the Chamberlayne Gardens deal with a loan from BB&T. Keith Wells of financial services firm NorthMarq assisted in arranging the mortgage.

Chamberlayne Gardens is Premier’s third holding the Richmond market. The firm also owns the Brookhill Shopping Center in Northside and the Richmond Medical Park on Bremo Road.

Cutler said Premier doesn’t have any more immediate acquisitions planned in the Richmond area, but the company is always on the lookout for potential turnaround-type properties.

“We have a shopping center, a medical center and now apartments in Richmond, so we’re not people that only do this or only that,” he said. “So when we see the right opportunity, we can move.”

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