Recent News

  • Sep
    26

West Elm launching hotel in South End

September 26, 2016

By Ely Portillo via Charlotte Observer

West Elm – the furniture store – is launching a hotel in Charlotte.

Part of a national launch of boutique hotels, the company is coming to the Design Center of the Carolinas, in South End on Camden Road. West Elm is also launching hotels in Savannah, Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Detroit. They’ll open in late 2018.

The Charlotte hotel will include 150 rooms, a rooftop pool, meeting space, a restaurant, lounge and bar. A “community-inspired, locally sourced event” will be held at the hotel weekly, open to both local residents and hotel guests.

Ram Real Estate, which owns the Design Center, said the hotel will be new construction on the site. West Elm operates a furniture and home furnishings store nearby, in the Metropolitan complex.

“We’re excited that West Elm Hotel shares our vision for South End,” said Casey Cummings, Ram CEO, in a statement. “Our commitment to Charlotte has never been stronger and we look forward to collaborating with the entire West Elm team.”
The South End hotel will join a growing lineup of hotels under development outside of uptown but near center city. Kimpton is building a 128-room hotel on Worthington Avenue in Dilworth, and a 120-room hotel is planned at Kingston Avenue and South Tryon.

Opening a chain of hotels might seem like an odd move for a furniture seller. But West Elm said it’s interested in moving beyond furniture sales into a new market. The hotels will feature local design elements and cuisine, as well as locally commissioned artwork in each guest room and common areas. The furnishings and artwork will be available for guests to buy online as well.

West Elm said it was attracted to the warehouses, food trucks and local businesses in South End.

“After twenty-six consecutive quarters of double-digit comparative growth, including our successful entry into the commercial furnishings market with West Elm Workspace, we’ve created an active bond with our customers that can extend beyond home and work,” said Jim Brett, president of West Elm, in a statement. “By adapting the framework design of each hotel to reflect the mood and identity of its host city, we will continue to engage the adventurous spirit of our customers as they follow us to our next level of hospitality.”

Brooklyn-based West Elm is partnering with hotel operator DDK, which oversees a portfolio of 70 properties, on the West Elm Hotels project.

“There is a growing desire among modern travelers to immerse themselves in the place they are visiting. They want a boutique experience, and expect great, reliable service that caters to their needs,” said David Bowd, co-founder of DDK. “Our general managers will serve as innkeepers, and West Elm Hotels will focus on making real community connections for visitors and residents alike.”

  • Sep
    22

Multifamily Forecast: Stormy or Calm Seas

September 22, 2016

via DBR

Florida’s multifamily developers are shrinking units, inflating amenities and maneuvering around traditionally accepted parking requirements to keep rents high and building costs down in today’s pricey construction market.

“Units will get smaller,” said William Hamilton, executive vice president of Boston-based Winthrop Management. “And they have to be sexy.”

The major players shaping Florida’s multifamily arena gathered Thursday to forecast what’s in store for the rental realm over the next year. About 700 attendees were expected at the fifth annual Florida Multifamily Summit in Hollywood.

With construction costs at an all-time high and thousands of apartments under construction in South Florida, Art Falcone said lenders are pulling back in response. He is CEO and chairman of the Falcone Group and a principal of Miami Worldcenter Associates, which is developing a sprawling mixed-use project in downtown Miami.

“I will tell you that capital providers have pulled back dramatically so, on the condo side, that is drying up very quickly,” he said.

But the spigot is not completely off. Coincidentally, Boca Raton-based Banyan Commercial Capital LLC on Thursday announced the closing of a $38.8 million construction loan for the 250-unit Aura Seaside on the Intracoastal Waterway at 1400 Dixie Highway in Lantana by a subsidiary of Dallas-based Trinsic Residential Group L.P. The loan came from a bank group led by TD Bank N.A.

Banyan principal Michael Brown said the challenge in securing the loan was the timing. “Most construction lenders have reached their multifamily quotas for the cycle,” he said in a news release.

The statewide rental market, however, shows no signs of overbuilding, said Casey Cummings, CEO of Palm Beach Gardens-based Ram Realty Services. Most of the homes are under development in response to demand. Overall occupancy rates, especially in South Florida downtown markets, now stand at 95 percent to 96 percent, Cummings said.

While occupancy rates prove apartment demand is strong, rental growth is expected to slow over the next year, he said. Rents could rise 2 percent to 3 percent rather than the 5 percent to 8 percent annual hike seen over the last couple of years.

Peaking rental rates have catalyzed vigorous investment in South Florida’s apartment communities. Investors have poured nearly $4 billion into Miami-Dade County’s multifamily market over the last 12 months.

“Only recently did apartments become the darling of institutional capital,” Cummings said. “It wasn’t like that 15 years ago. It was office buildings and shopping centers. It feels good to be in this spot.”

The buyer pool for completed apartment assets has shrunk, however. Cummings characterized the next year as a “light chop with eight knots out of the east” in response to the title of the panel, “Stormy Water or Calm Seas?”

Falcone said South Florida is considered a top-tier market around the world.

“We’ll continue to be the safety deposit box for the world,” he said.

  • Sep
    6

New apartments on North Davidson St. breaking ground in November

September 6, 2016

via The Charlotte Observer by Ely Portillo

A joint venture of two development firms plans to start construction in November on a new apartment building and mixed-use development planned at 27th and North Davidson streets.

Florida-based Ram Realty and Charlotte-based CitiSculpt are partnering on the project, which will include 250 apartments in a new, five-story building and the renovation of an existing commercial building on the site, currently home to Free Range Brewing.

The companies purchased the 3.6-acre parcel of land for $4.95 million, in a deal that closed this week, according to real estate records. Capstone Apartment Partners brokered the sale.

The developers plan to open the new development in 2018. The apartments will be located two blocks from the 25th Street Blue Line light rail extension station, which is scheduled to begin service next summer.

“Our goal is to build a unique and attractive community that complements the vibrant character of the neighborhood,” said David Klepser, Ram’s lead developer on the deal, in a statement. “We’re exploring distinguishing architectural styles, industrial-modern finishes, and ways to integrate the new development with the existing commercial building.”

The apartment building will include studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and 2,000 square feet of retail space. Amenities at the project will include a pool, spa deck and a 24-hour gym. “The development’s primary draw is its location,” Ram said in a news release.

Interest in the area has “skyrocketed” since the Blue Line extension was announced, said Ram CEO Casey Cummings. There are now 1,573 new apartments under construction or planned along the Blue Line route between uptown and 36th Street, in neighborhoods including Villa Heights, Optimist Park and NoDa.

Ram and CitiSculpt both have developed other projects in Charlotte. Ram owns the Design Center of the Carolinas in South End and Rock Creek at Ballantyne Commons, and is a partner in Midtown 205, the apartment development at Kings Drive and Third Street. CitiSculpt, through its affiliate Southern Apartment Group, has developed or partnered on apartment projects in Dilworth, Mountain Island Lake, Ballantyne and West Morehead street.

  • Aug
    12

Trader Joe’s? Publix?: New construction and new market heading to Woodlands Square

August 12, 2016

via the Tampa Bay Times by Piper Castillo

OLDSMAR — Trader Joe’s? Safeway? Whole Foods Market?

Although the name has yet to be revealed, hurdles are being cleared to give Oldsmar a new place to load up on groceries. Although the specific store has not been identified, other facts have been disclosed, including the exact location. Its home will be Woodlands Square, right next to Beall’s.

The City Council recently approved a development agreement with Woodlands Square Community Reinvestment Partners allowing for the renovation of the shopping center at 3130 Tampa Road. The center, more than 30 years old, is about a half-mile from Canal Park and is most known for AMC Woodlands 20, a popular movie theater last renovated in 2000.

In front of the council, Mark Van Dyke, the director of development for Ram Realty Services, owner of Woodlands Square, reviewed the timeline for the project, with a goal of opening for business by September 2017.

“We are securing the grocery store,” he said. “We plan to start demolition right after the first of the year. We’ll get through the holiday season and will then commence on construction of the grocery store.”

Along with the mystery store, new construction of another retail space, totalling 10,500 square feet, is also planned. Brian Maloney, managing director of Ram Reality, said the standalone store will be at the center of the current parking lot and will serve as a connecting point. It will be a store where people will want to enter after leaving Beall’s, for example, shop through and exit towards Marshalls without having to walk too far.

“Right now there’s a lot of parking lot space, and this will be a store that moves people from one part of the shopping center to another easier,” he said.

To make way for new construction, a portion of the west side of Woodlands Square, with several vacant stores, will be torn down. Current tenants on the west side will be moved to another site on the property.

The project also includes updating storefront exteriors as well as renovating some of the interior of the movie theater, including widening the aisles.

Another highlight will be a constructed pathway with signage to improve pedestrian and bike access between Woodlands Square and Canal Park, with its BMX Supercross track and sports fields.

“The details haven’t been worked out yet, but the idea of including a walkway came about from the idea of connecting the community’s open space with the community’s shopping space,” Maloney said.

  • Aug
    4

Ram buys Triangle shopping center

August 4, 2016

via The Triangle Business Journal by Amanda Hoyle

A Florida real estate investment and development firm has paid $17.75 million for a Chapel Hill shopping center that’s in the heart of ongoing redevelopment within the Ephesus-Fordham District in Chapel Hill.

Ram Realty Services has bought the Village Plaza retail center building anchored by O2 Fitness and a series of small shops on Elliott Road from an investment fund long-managed by Mark Properties of Durham.

The nearly 68,000-square-foot retail center was 95 percent occupied at the time of the deal. Other tenants include Great Harvest Bread, Market Street Coffee and Monterrey Mexican.

The property, built in 1965, is south of the Whole Foods-anchored retail center also called Village Plaza, as well as the new Village Plaza Apartments project being developed by East West Partners of Chapel Hill. The new apartment building is adding 265 new apartment units and another 15,000 square feet of retail space once complete, plus a parking deck for residents and retail shoppers.

In 2014, Chapel Hill Town Council created the Ephesus-Fordham District, a 190-acre zoning district that stretches along E. Franklin Street, Ephesus Church Road and Fordham Boulevard that has its own form-based code. The new rules were designed to encourage redevelopment of the retail strip centers, parking lots and confusing roadways built up over time in the area since the 1950s.

The Village Plaza acquisition is the second major investment by Ram Realty Partners in the Triangle in the past year. The group also acquired the mixed-use Pavilion East complex in Erwin Road in Durham in December for $41 million and is developing a 263-unit apartment building on the Durham property.

“Our confidence in the Triangle’s long-term growth prospects has never been higher,” stated Ram CEO Casey Cummings in a news release about the deal. “The Triangle’s unique combination of higher learning institutions and respected employers has created attractive economic conditions for development and value-add investment.”

Mike Burkard and Steve Shields of CBRE’s Charlotte office represented the seller, Mark Properties, in the transaction.

  • Jun
    25

Ram sells Rock Creek Vinings & Ashford in Atlanta, GA

June 25, 2016

Atlanta, GA – June 24, 2016 – Ram Realty Services is pleased to announce the combined sale of two apartment communities in the greater Atlanta area: Rock Creek at Vinings and its sister property, Rock Creek at Ashford. Atlantic & Pacific Management purchased both communities. Walker & Dunlop marketed the property on behalf of the seller; Pat Jones and Chris Goldsmith led the investment sales team.

Rock Creek at Vinings is situated off Atlanta Road in the Smyrna area, conveniently located near Home Depot’s corporate headquarters as well as SunTrust Field and the Cobb Center Galleria. Residents of the 403-unit garden-style community enjoy two resort-style pools, an outdoor kitchen, tennis courts, a 24-hour fitness center, and luxuriously appointed apartments with high ceilings, wood plank flooring, granite countertops, and fully equipped stainless steel kitchens.

The comparably equipped 222-unit Rock Creek at Ashford is located in the affluent Brookhaven neighborhood off Ashford Dunwoody Road. The community is less than a mile from the Central Perimeter office market (Atlanta’s largest office market), the Perimeter Mall, and multiple major hospitals.

Rock Creek at Vinings and Rock Creek at Ashford were constructed by Post Properties in 1991 and 1987, respectively. In 2008 a partnership between Met Life and Greystar purchased the two properties and implemented light interior upgrades.

Ram acquired the communities in January 2014 on behalf of Ram Realty Partners III, one of the Company’s discretionary private equity funds. Following the acquisition, Ram rebranded the properties as “Rock Creek” and commenced significant interior renovations. Unit upgrades included a unique three-tiered finish package to suit renters of varying tastes and budgets. Ram also addressed key deferred maintenance items and enhanced amenity areas including the pool, clubhouse, fitness area, and green space at both locations. Rock Creek at Ashford was 95-percent occupied at the time of sale and Rock Creek at Vinings was 96-percent occupied.

“Strong property-level performance combined with the right strategy and ideal market conditions made this result possible,” said Jennifer Stull, Managing Director of Asset Management for Ram. “We had an opportunity to modernize two aging communities in great locations and renters really responded to the added value. We are excited about Atlanta and are actively searching for other investment opportunities in the area.”

Ram continues to expand its portfolio despite the recent sales; the Company currently owns or operates over 1.5 million square feet of commercial space and 3,000 multifamily units. Ram is currently investing capital on behalf of Ram Realty Partners IV, with several active projects in Florida (Orlando, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Doral, and Hollywood) and North Carolina (Durham and Charlotte).

 

  • Jun
    20

Ram and Pinnacle deliver Hollywood’s first Class A apartments in 15 years

June 20, 2016

via The Real Deal by Sean Stewart-Muniz

Developers Ram Realty Services and the Pinnacle Housing Group have officially opened Parc Station, their new luxury apartment community in Hollywood.

The developers announced Friday that their 336-unit project was open for business and accepting tenants. Leasing had begun two weeks prior, and about 30 tenants have signed agreements so far.

Ram said in a release that this is the first Class A apartment community of its size to be built in Hollywood in the last 15 years.

Transit is a big selling point for Parc Station: it’s located at 2300 North 29th Avenue, less than a mile away from the Sheridan Street Tri-Rail Station and from I-95. Amenities for the project include a community pool with cabanas, 24-hour fitness center, outdoor kitchen and a clubhouse.

Units at the development come in one-, two- and three-bedroom configurations, with rents starting at $1,550 per month.

As part of their development agreement with the city, Ram and Pinnacle gifted 6 acres of nearby land to convert a former trailer park to a public green space called the Charles F. Vollman Park, which features walking paths and a pond.

Ram also pitched in $50,000 to renovate the historic Coral Rock House in the park at a later date.

Parc Station is the latest project of Ram’s to open in South Florida. The developer, which has offices in both Dania Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, recently broke ground on a 350-unit project in Boynton Beach named Cortina.

The company is also an active investor, having recently sold a Plantation shopping centeranchored by Publix for $29 million.

Its partner for Parc Station, Pinnacle, is an apartment builder headquartered in Miami. The company has developed some 8,000 units in the Southeastern United States since it was founded in 1997.

  • Jun
    6

Chapel Hill is for rent

June 6, 2016

by Mark Zimmerman via The News & Observer 

Why apartments? The fourth building at East 54. Most of Obey Creek. The Edge. The Alexan on Elliott Road. Amity Station. American Legion. The housing approved or proposed for all these developments will be rented, not owned.

As a college town, apartments have long been a large percentage of Chapel Hill’s housing stock. Currently, 51.4 percent of housing units are not occupied by owners. But the recent trend to focus almost exclusively on rental development will meaningfully increase that share.

Before the recession, Chapel Hill’s major new developments centered on selling instead of renting. From Southern Village and Meadowmont to the first three phases of East 54, Greenbridge and 140 West Franklin, single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums dominated our landscape.

What changed? Both national and local trends caused the shift.

Nationally, the great recession changed people’s housing habits and financiers’ lending patterns. People who lost their homes couldn’t buy another. Millennials didn’t have the jobs or income to purchase a home, and many were leary of the investment after seeing what happened to their parents’ generation. They were forced to rent, but many did so gladly.

Meanwhile lenders faced new federal loan restrictions. The hangover from empty half-finished condo buildings lingers to this day. (140 West Franklin was one of only a handful of large condo projects nationally to be built after the recession hit. It was largely self-funded by the developer.)

Combining those trends led to concentrating on multi-family apartment complexes. Post-recession rental demand was up, and developers and financiers answered it. Apartment construction has been the strongest sector of commercial development for several years.

Areas like Chapel Hill are particularly attractive to this investment for several reasons. First, our supply of housing has been artificially constricted by policy for decades, so pent-up demand allows for premium-priced (i.e. luxury) projects. That’s fortunate for investors because of the cost of scarce, developable land and additional expenses incurred in our special-use permitting process. New construction must be high end to be financially successful here.

Low supply and high demand also drives up the price of housing in Chapel Hill. The average price of a house in our school district is 33.9 percent more than in Wake County and 75.6 percent more than in Durham. That leaves some who would could afford to buy a home elsewhere unable to qualify here. They have no choice but to rent, adding to the apartment demand.

The national trend to apartments is beginning to soften, but demand in submarkets like Chapel Hill will continue to fuel it here. It is our “new normal”; our future growth path, like it or not.

The shift to apartments isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Smaller, luxury apartments don’t attract many families with children, meaning they don’t require as many government services as some traditional detached housing does. More apartments are also needed to house the employees of businesses we are trying to attract. New businesses won’t move here unless their workers can move here also.

Due to our high costs, today’s new apartments will be luxury priced. But that’s a temporary issue because they will become tomorrow’s more affordable ones. As apartments age, they become relatively less expensive. When we largely stopped building apartments for at least a decade, we created a gap in our pricing. We now have new expensive units and very old low-end units. The middle class is left out because we didn’t keep building. The current Town Council is about to repeat that mistake if it refuses to continue approving new projects. Our pipeline barely keeps pace with historic low growth.

There’s not much from a policy standpoint that can change this trend to becoming more of a rental community. Instead, we should take advantage of it. Areas like Ephesus-Fordham, where we have already committed to more dense commercial development, need a lot more residential units within walking distance to change from a suburban-like strip mall to becoming a second town center. Apartments are a great solution.

For once let’s stop fighting the market and use it to help achieve our strategic goals instead.

  • Jun
    3

Ram begins construction on Boynton apartments with $47MM loan

June 3, 2016

By Sean Stewart-Muniz via The Real Deal

With $47 million worth of financing in hand, Ram Realty has begun construction on its modern-style Cortina apartment complex in Boynton Beach.

The developer simultaneously closed on its loan from JPMorgan Chase Bank and filed a notice of commencement to break ground on the complex Friday, according to county property records.

Cortina will be a seven-building complex with a combined 350 luxury units on the eastern side of Renaissance Commons Boulevard, between Old Boynton Road and East Gateway Boulevard.

Though rental rates have yet to be released, Ram has said the community will boast amenities like a 24-hour fitness center, clubhouse, business lounge, outdoor kitchen, children’s playground, pool and spa area.

The news follows Ram’s $15.75 million acquisition of the 14.4-acre Cortina development site in March. Ram seems to working on schedule as it said at the time Cortina would break ground in May, with an estimated completion date in Spring 2017.

The project will be part of the 45-acre Boynton Village development that’s slated to bring more than 1,000 condos, apartments and single-family homes to the city.

“We are excited to begin construction at the Cortina site and bring a modern take to Class A apartments in Boynton Beach,” Hugo Pacanins, manaaging director of multifamily development at Ram, said in a statement. “Residents will enjoy a walkable lifestyle that is rare in Boynton Beach in addition to a host of best-in-class amenities.”

  • May
    4

Durham retail center sells for $16.8 million

May 4, 2016

via Triangle Business Journal by Amanda Hoyle

A Kroger-anchored shopping center at the corner of U.S. 70 and North LaSalle Street in Durham has been sold to a Texas real estate investor for $18.6 million – a 67 percent premium over the price that was paid for the property in 2009.

Epic Real Estate Partners of Austin, Texas, acquired the Durham Festival retail center in Durham from an affiliate of Florida-based Ram Realty Services, according to county records.

Ram had bought the 134,000-square-foot property from a public REIT during the global financial crisis for only $11.1 million and shortly thereafter set about a renovation of the property and expansion of several tenants. The Kroger store also added a fuel station and remodeled its own anchor location.

Durham Festival was 89 percent occupied at the time of sale to Epic, and the shopping center is so far its only real estate asset in North Carolina. Other tenants at the center include Dollar General, Dunkin Donuts, and SunTrust Bank.

David WebbRob CarterAlex Quarrier and Rad von Werssowetz of Berkeley Capital Advisors of Charlotte assisted Ram Realty in the transaction.

“We are excited about this outcome and the positive impact for the fund and for our institutional partners,” stated Ram CEO Casey Cummings in a news release about the deal with Epic. “We were able to deploy capital during a difficult time, allowing us to acquire quality real estate at a discount and create value through the downturn. We are continuing to invest in other exciting opportunities throughout the Triangle.”

Ram Realty Services also announced that it has broken ground on the next phase of development at Pavilion East in Durham. Ram in December had acquired Pavilion East, a 97,000-square-foot office, condo and retail building with a 700-space parking deck. It will be building next a 263-unit luxury apartment development on the property. Pre-leasing for its first units is expected to begin in spring 2017.