Bell Partners Expands Presence Out West

Bell Partners has expanded its presence on the left coast:

Bell Partners Inc…has been awarded a contract to manage multifamily assets in California and Washington.

The 17 apartment communities are owned by JB Matteson Inc., a San Francisco-based private real estate investment firm, and are valued at more than $1 billion.

“The JBM assets are a perfect complement to our existing $250 million California portfolio,” said Bell Partners’ CEO Jon Bell. “Bell has plans to continue expanding its footprint on the West Coast, and this new relationship is a clear example of our commitment to that objective. We are eager to grow our scale in these important apartment markets and look forward to cultivating an even deeper relationship with JB Matteson in the future.”

In recent years Bell has been concentrating on expanding out west, including three recent purchases in California for a combined $264.9 million.

Bell Partners Busy Going Into 2017

Two recent stories about Bell Partners show that the company is not resting on its laurels as it enters 2017. In the first story we learn that Bell rounded out an active 2016 by selling two properties for a total of $100 million:

Greensboro-based Bell Partners Inc. said Wednesday that it completed the sale of two properties in Asheville and Atlanta for a cumulative sale price of more than $100 million in December.

Bell’s sale of the two communities — Biltmore Park in Asheville and Bell Cheshire Bridge in Atlanta, Ga. — bring the total number of transactions made by Bell in 2016 to $1.3 billion. Last year, the company sold 12 properties for $475 million and acquired 12 apartment communities comprised of 3,575 units for $791 million. Bell Partners will retain property management responsibilities for Bell Biltmore Park.

The second story provides a hint at what Bell is looking to do in 2017:

Greensboro-based Bell Partners Inc., one of the nation’s largest apartment investment and management companies, has launched an effort to raise up to $465 million.

According to a Form D filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company has thus far raised $285 million in equity financing from investors for its Bell Institutional Fund VI L.P., with $180 million left to raise. Company officials declined to disclose the reason behind why the firm was raising the funds. Bell Partners in the past has raised equity financing to invest in apartments and senior housing projects…

Bell Partners is raising the financing amid a flurry of recent acquisitions. The company recently completed an acquisition of an Atlanta-area apartment complex in December and two apartment projects in Texas in November.Including those deals, the company eclipsed more than $1.3 billion in transactions in 2016, including both acquisitions and dispositions. The company has completed more than $10 billion of apartment transactions since 2002.

Bell Partners Involved With German Firm’s $1 Billion Real Estate Fund

From the press release:

HANSAINVEST Hanseatische Investment-GmbH is creating a new real estate special fund designed to invest in residential real estate in the United States. The fund − known as HANSA US Residential − is geared towards institutional investors who want to be involved with core residential properties in the US. The target fund volume is USD 1 billion, and plans call for equity of some USD 500 million. The distribution yield for investors is forecast at 4.5 per cent p.a. The fund will be traded under the legal form of a German real estate special fund in accordance with the German Capital Investment Code (KAGB).

HANSAINVEST, the Fund Manager, will partner with Bell Partners (Bell) − an apartment investment and management company focused on high-quality multifamily communities throughout the US. At the moment, Bell has over 60,000 units under management. Bell offers an extensive and full service operating platform containing expertise in acquisitions and dispositions, property operations, construction, accounting, risk management, market research and all other related support functions. Since 2002, Bell has completed over USD 10 billion of apartment transactions, including almost USD 1.5 billion of activity in 2015 alone. Bell is also one of the largest apartment renovators in the US.

“Bell Partners is an excellent partner for HANSA US Residential,” said Nicholas Brinckmann, managing director of HANSAINVEST. “Bell provides great market access and the necessary all-round expertise in the multi-family houses segment,” Brinckmann noted, adding that a Bell investment entity will also invest in the fund as a co-investor. “This will enable us to be aligned and have common interests shared by the investors and our local partners,” he said.

“The positive development of the overall economic and demographic data provides a clear argument in the long term for investments in the US residential real estate market. This was what ultimately prompted us to decide to create a US fund,” the managing director of HANSAINVEST said, explaining the strategy further. “What’s more, the legal framework makes it possible to increase rent for residential real estate in the US at much more regular intervals than here in Germany. From the perspective of investors, this is a great benefit,” Brinckmann said.

Geographically, the fund will invest in metropolitan areas with positive demographic and economic fundamentals. The plans call for the properties to be located in strong areas in major cities. The focus will be on residential properties with a volume of between USD 50 million and USD 100 million, including high-rise residential buildings, blocks of flats and apartment complexes with between 150 and 550 units each.

HANSAINVEST pursues a buy-and-sell strategy and intends to hold the properties after their purchase for at least five to seven years. The first properties are scheduled to be purchased this year. Plans do not provide for a limit on the term of the fund. DONNER & REUSCHEL Aktiengesellschaft will serve as custodian.

Jon Bell Talks Apartment Deals

The Triad Business Journal interviewed Bell Partners CEO Jon Bell about his company’s approach to doing deals. Here’s an excerpt:

What’s the secret to doing well when it comes to apartment investment and management?

We focus on larger markets. We believe there’s less risk there. Not to say there’s not money to be made in some smaller markets, but to mitigate risks, we concentrate on larger markets.

Are there any markets in particular your company favors?

We have 12 acquisition markets. They range from Boston in the north to Miami in the south. It stretches west to southern California and includes Washington, D.C.; Austin, Texas; and Denver, Colo. We feel very good about these areas.

What’s your appetite for deals going forward?

I like to say we’re an aggressive seller and a judicious buyer. We’re always looking for good opportunities.

What about the Triad? Any interest in purchasing properties here?

The Triad is a wonderful place to live, but it’s not a target market for us.

Jon Bell Steps Up to CEO Role for Bell Partners

The Triad Business Journal has a nice article on Jon Bell’s ascension to the CEO role for the company his father founded 40 years ago.

After seven years as president of the apartment investment and management company his father founded in 1976, Jon Bell has moved up a rung and will begin serving as CEO on Feb. 1.

In that new role, Bell said he’s going to be more focused on the “big picture” and long-term growth of the company, while new President Lili Dunn will be more involved in the day-to-day operation of Greensboro-based Bell Partners.

“The CEO role is more strategic, more big picture, involved with guiding the organization,” Bell told me Wednesday. “We’ve had a lot of evolution at Bell Partners over the past five or 10 years. But we’re just getting started.”

That evolution has included shifting its focus exclusively to high-end multi-family residential complexes in growing markets, a change Bell Partners announced five years ago this month that included rebranding its communities with the Bell name.

You can read the full story here.

Lincoln Green Sells for $44.1 Million

Bell Partners recently sold Lincoln Green for $44.1 million but will continue managing the property. From an article in the Triad Business Journal:

A Texas-based firm has purchased one of Greensboro’s largest apartment complexes for $44.1 million.

Lincoln Green, a 616-unit complex located at 2205 New Garden Road, was purchased Thursday by Elite Street Capital, a real estate investment firm located in Houston and Tel Aviv, Israel…

“This disposition is another example of how Bell is rotating out of older assets in smaller markets and targeting newer assets in larger markets,” said Bell Partners spokeswoman Laurenn Wolpoff.

Last month, Bell purchased a 164-unit complex in Marlborough, a suburb of Boston, for an undisclosed price, bringing the total number of units it owns and manages in the Greater Boston suburbs to 844.

Bell Sells Three Triad Properties as Part of Larger Deal

Bell Partners recently sold eight properties for $140 million to a New Jersey-based firm and three of those properties are based in the Triad:

A New Jersey-based firm has purchased three Triad apartment complexes from Greensboro-based Bell Partners Inc., an apartment investment and management company, for $67 million.

The sale of Steeplechase at Adams Farm and Park Forest in Greensboro and Deep River Pointe in High Point was part of a larger sale by Bell of eight properties — five in Arkansas — for more than $140 million. Bell Partners will continue managing the North Carolina properties.

According to the article Bell will continue to manage the three Triad properties.

Bell Sells

Bell Partners announced today that they, along with DRA Advisors LLC, have sold a portfolio of 20,439 apartments to Lone Star Advisors. From the Triad Business Journal story:

Bell Partners Inc. of Greensboro and DRA Advisors LLC together have sold a portfolio of 20,439 apartments to a global private equity firm for $1.8 billion, the firms announced today.

The portfolio comprises 64 properties across eight states and was acquired by Lone Star Funds, which has U.S. offices in Dallas, New York City and Washington, D.C. Bell will continue to manage the properties…

The deal includes 24 North Carolina properties located in Charlotte, Raleigh, Wilmington, New Bern and Goldsboro. The total portfolio was originally part of a joint venture purchase made by Bell and DRA in 2008, which then included 25,684 apartments spanning 86 properties.

This is one of the largest apartment deals in the country this year, and is likely to be the “biggest” story involving a Triad apartment company in years.

Bell Hires Two Operations Executives

Greensboro-based Bell Partners has hired two operations executives:

Recent hire Gwyneth Coté, currently Bell’s senior vice president of property operations, in January will assume the role of chief operating officer. Current COORobert Slater will become chief administrative officer.

Janice Miner has been hired as senior vice president of operations, and she will also manage Bell Fund and Legacy assets. Current Senior Vice President of Operations Kristin Stanton will continue to manage Bell Joint Venture and Fee-Managed assets. Both will report to Coté.

The changes were prompted as Bell Partners moves into the second phase of its strategic plan, which is designed to shift the company’s focus solely on apartments and become “one of the country’s leading apartment companies,” said Jon Bell, president of Bell Partners.

Bell Out of Senior Apartment Market

Bell Partners sold off the last of its senior apartment product:

Greensboro apartment investment firm Bell Partners Inc. has sold the Alta Oakridge property in north Raleigh and the Alta Walk property in Durham, which are also the last remaining independent living facilities in which Bell had an ownership interest…

Nickolay Bochilo, vice president of investment at Bell Partners, stated in a news release that the company has been planning to exit from the senior housing sector and refocus its growth on the multifamily residential market.