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Multi-Family Residential Developments

Orlando’s Novel Lucerne multi-family community sells for $137 million

A little more than a month after marking its entry into the Orlando market by buying its first apartment community here, Dallas-based Knightvest Capital —one of the largest multifamily operators in the nation — has swiftly added to its Central Florida portfolio with another high-dollar purchase.

In late April, the company acquired the luxury 326-unit Steelhouse Orlando Apartments on Orange Avenue for $92 million, or $282, 209 per unit. On May 31, Knightvest closed on the acquisition of Orlando’s Novel Lucerne mixed-use community for $137 million, according to the seller, Charlotte-based Crescent Communities.

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The apartment building consists of 375 multifamily units across six stories and a pair of ground-floor retailers, natural grocery chain Earth Fare and training concept Eat The Frog Fitness.

Knightvest’s initial two investments in the Orlando market total nearly $230 million.

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“We are excited to expand our investment footprint in the southeast with Orlando being a new market for Knightvest starting in 2022,” Jason Dallas, Vice President of Acquisitions at Knightvest, said in a news release announcing the Novel Lucerne acquisition. “Novel Lucerne is a best-in-class asset proximate to major downtown Orlando employment and the desirable SoDo (South Downtown) district and will be a great addition to the Knightvest portfolio.”

Knightvest is one of the largest privately owned multifamily owners and operators in the United States. To date, Knightvest has acquired over 50,000 units across major markets in Texas, Arizona, North Carolina and Florida, according to its website.

Funding for the sale of the Novel Lucerna property was managed by Los Angeles-based Oaktree Capital Management.

Prior to the acquisition, Knightfest secured two separate mortgages totaling $47.2 million from Forethought Life Insurance Company and U.S. Bank National Association, which partnered on the financing with Synovus Bank.

The sale of Novel Lucerne comes amid a flurry of recent apartment transactions in the Orlando area.

The 400-unit Vineyards apartments and the 264-unit Heron Lake Apartments in Kissimmee were sold last week for a combined $193.7 million. The sales were part of a 12-asset portfolio deal between the sellers, Carroll and PGIM Real Estate, and the buyer, a joint venture between Clarion Partners and Blackfin Real Estate Investors.

The new owners revealed plans for a comprehensive renovation program, upgrading both unit interiors and community amenities. A majority of the portfolio’s units will be improved with new vinyl floors, new appliances, new countertops, LED lights, and other features.

Novel Lucerne opened in 2018, a product of developer Crescent Communities. Crescent has owned and managed the property ever since.

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At the time of acquisition, the occupancy rate was 93.3 %.

“It has been rewarding to watch Novel Lucerne transform into a thriving community in SoDo,” Tim Graff, Crescent Communities’ managing director for Florida said in a news release following the sale.

The apartment community — which features a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plans along with a resort-style pool, shaded terrace, dog park and more — sits at the southwest intersection of South Orange Avenue and W. Gore Street, directly across from the Orlando Health hospital campus.

Within walking distance of Lake Lucerne and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the property sits south of downtown Orlando and S.R. 408, in an area referred to as Orlando’s SoDo district.

“Crescent Communities is thrilled with the investment community’s overwhelming response to the quality and value of the development, and we are excited to find a buyer that will continue the momentum we have started,” Graff said.

Novel Lucerne is the third apartment built by Crescent in the Orlando area, and one of ten the developer has completed across the Sunshine State.

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The sale comes as the company is preparing to bring the Orlando market two other luxury Novel-branded apartment communities. The 260-unit Novel Nona is expected to open along Narcoossee Road near Lake Nona by this fall, according to the company’s public relations representative Ellie Davis.

Meanwhile, the 325-unit Novel Parkway is slated to open on International Parkway by the winter, Davis said.

The recent apartment transactions in the Kissimmee area involve older properties that are slated for a makeover. The Vineyards apartments, a two-story garden apartment community, were built in 1984 and 1986 and sit on 34 acres on W. Columbia Avenue, east of Dyer Boulevard. The Heron Lake apartment community was built in 1988 on 17.7 acres just north of Kissimmee Gateway Airport.

“This acquisition further strengthens our position in fast-growing Sun Belt markets and also gives us exposure to a high-growth portfolio of seasoned multifamily properties which we can own below replacement cost and renovate for yield enhancement,” Managing Director Thomas James said in a statement.

The properties were over 96% occupied at the time of the sale. Greystar will manage all of the Florida properties, which also include communities in Tampa and Melbourne.

DLA Piper served as legal counsel for Clarion Partners on the deal. The Eastdil Secured investment sales team facilitated the transaction.

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Last month, a Pompano Beach investment firm led by Viewpoint Equities CEO Gregg Seaman purchased Orlando’s 296-unit Aventon Alaira apartments for $109 million — or $396,087 per unit.

GrowthSpotter’s Laura Kinsler contributed to this report

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at (407)-800-1161 or dwyatt@GrowthSpotter.com, or tweet me at @DustinWyattGS. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


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