News Article | 1/31/2012

Hillwood plans new focus, strategy on multifamily market

AllianceTexas developer Hillwood Properties announced today its plans to expand its Hillwood Multifamily subsidiary.

Hillwood Multifamily will initially concentrate on delivering more than 3,000 units of multifamily product over the next 10 years within the company’s 17,000-acre AllianceTexas master-planned development.

Leading the effort will be multifamily industry veteran Mark McHenry, who, prior to joining Hillwood, led the southwest regional multifamily development operations for Atlanta-based Lane Company, as well as leading regional multifamily development operations for public and private firms including JPI and United Dominion Realty Trust.

“We are committed to the multifamily product sector as a key component of our business strategy going forward,” said Ross Perot Jr., chairman of Hillwood Development Co. in a news release. “The multifamily strategy complements our other core business lines at AllianceTexas. In addition, the ability to deliver quality multifamily housing as a residential option serves to enhance the appeal of the region for corporate employers, and retail and service companies evaluating the location or expansion of their business operations in the AllianceTexas region.”

The division’s 10-year business plan for the AllianceTexas region involves the construction of over 3,000 multifamily units, the company’s current land holdings at AllianceTexas include zoning for more than 5,000 multifamily units. In total, Hillwood controls over 50 percent of the multifamily entitlements in the competitive submarket. The pace of new development activity, as well as specific product types and amenities, will be market-driven and designed to appeal to a wide audience. Based on the rate of growth in the region and limited availability of competitive sites, the company anticipates the potential to deliver a new phase of multifamily development every 12-to-18 months. Hillwood Properties’ residential experience in the market includes Monterra Village, the first multifamily project that was completed within AllianceTexas in 2008.

“The AllianceTexas region has a significant and growing employment base, a rapidly increasing population and a wide range of existing and expanding services in and around Alliance Town Center,” said Mike Berry, president of Hillwood Properties. “This is why Hillwood has chosen AllianceTexas to expand its long-term multifamily investment strategy and create a diverse, branded portfolio of multifamily product in a unique, master-planned environment serving the AllianceTexas region.”

The majority of the planned multifamily units will be concentrated in the 900-acre Alliance Town Center mixed-use development, which stretches along Interstate 35W from North Tarrant Parkway to Golden Triangle Boulevard.

But Hillwood has set its sights beyond AllianceTexas, said McHenry.

“Hillwood has a concentration of multifamily entitlements in the heart of a premier master-planned development that will continue to grow as the economy recovers,” McHenry said. “The development of quality multifamily housing at an appropriate pace of delivery is a natural extension of the AllianceTexas business strategy and enables us to develop a portfolio of over 3,000 units in the next 10-year cycle. We hope to replicate this strategy, expanding our portfolio with high-quality, Hillwood-branded multifamily developments in select target markets.”

Hillwood also has formalized its multifamily management platform and added key staff to its multifamily management team at AllianceTexas. Stephanie Isham has joined the team as property manager for Monterra Village. Isham previously served in senior property manager roles with Lincoln Property Co. and Riverstone Residential Group, where she has been responsible for the lease up of multiple Class A apartment communities. Additionally, Christine Adeeb and Amy Perez, who have served as leasing consultants at Monterra Village for three years, have been hired as full-time Hillwood associates. McHenry and the team will lead the expansion of the Hillwood Multifamily management company as the portfolio grows.

“The internal management team is an integral component of our long-term multifamily investment strategy,” Berry said. “We believe keeping management in-house gives us the best opportunity to control the operating expenses at our properties, while maintaining a consistent level of product quality and resident services that will lead to higher resident retention rates.”

Hillwood is announcing its focus on multifamily at a key time in that market, as apartments rents in the area are at an all time high, according to a recent presentation at the Real Estate Forecast 2012 program by Ben Loughry, managing partner at Integra Realty Resources DFW.

According to Loughry, apartments rents averaged a little more than $800 in 2011, with most new units above $1,000.