SOURCE: Wood Partners, L.L.C.

http://woodpartners.com

September 21, 2009 21:41 ET

Wood Partners Announces Its Entry Into the Acquisition Market for Multifamily Real Estate

One of the Country's Largest Multifamily Developers Plans to Purchase Rental Apartment Projects Nationwide; Forms Asset Management Group and In-House Property Management Business for Its Existing 15,000 Units

ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwire - September 21, 2009) - Wood Partners, L.L.C., one of the nation's largest multifamily developers, announced today the expansion of its business to actively acquire rental apartment projects nationwide in response to growing market opportunities. The company remains active in the development space having recently secured equity related to four new development starts scheduled for fourth quarter 2009.

The company is assigning its top talent to a special team that will guide its move into acquisitions, cultivating equity partners and seeking out strategic multifamily properties that are either complete or partially complete. The move will help strengthen Wood Partners' strategic position by balancing its revenue platform and building its portfolio through acquisition and development.

"It's clear that we are in a capital-constrained market on the development front -- both from an equity and debt perspective -- and expect that to be the case through 2010, if not beyond," said Wood Partners CEO Jerry Durkin. "Instead of letting our top development talent sit on the sidelines, we're putting them at the forefront of acquiring new assets, which is where equity wants to be in this market."

The company will continue to maintain a development capability that is commensurate with the market conditions.

"We anticipate promising opportunities in the multifamily market over the next few years, and expect to be very successful in acquisitions over the long haul," he added.

The new acquisition team will be spearheaded by Wood directors Charles Barrus, Jay Jacobson and Patrick Trask. Jacobson brings a deep acquisition track record and history via prior senior positions with Archstone Communities Trust and with Archon Group, the real estate management group of Goldman Sachs.

Despite the challenges that exist in the new development market, Wood Partners will remain an active multifamily developer on a national level. It has recently inked equity commitments to fund four new development projects in Oakland, Calif.; Boston, Mass.; Atlanta, Ga.; and Denver, Colo. The company is currently seeking debt capital for these projects.

"There are some areas of the country that are still showing strong demand combined with limited supply and we are selectively pursuing development deals in those areas," Durkin said. "But overall, the money has migrated towards acquisition opportunities. When that market gets too competitive, the demand will become sufficient to spawn new development. When the capital returns, we'll be ready."

The company currently owns approximately 15,000 units at various stages of completion across the country. The directors in charge of those projects will be managing those assets to determine how to enhance their value, refinance or extend their current financing and position the deals in the market.

Over the next year, Wood Partners will be entering the property management business to handle the operation and maintenance of its multifamily projects in certain situations and geographical locations where it makes sense. To date, Wood Partners has contracted property management to third-party managers, but now the company believes it might make sense to bring it in-house in some circumstances.

"Our goal is to create value for our equity investors by maximizing property-level ROI," said Durkin. "But whatever we decide to do will be gradual. We have third-party relationships, as well as debt and equity investors, who need to be consulted. We have to transition into it thoughtfully over time in a collaborative manner."

Mike Hefley, former COO at Gables Residential, will be heading up the company's asset management group and its entry into property management starting in 2010.

Despite the challenging macroeconomic and real estate conditions, Durkin remains optimistic. Because it has always taken a conservative approach to development, Wood Partners has significant equity in its development projects -- primarily apartment communities -- with limited exposure to the condominium market or land loans.

The company's properties are regularly being refinanced and the company is safely covering debt service, Durkin said, so banks are being fair with its loan extensions.

Its geographically diverse portfolio is performing well and has shown signs of improvement recently, particularly in markets hardest hit by the housing crisis, Durkin said. And he believes the company is well-positioned to attract the new "echo-boom generation" of renters 20 to 34 years old who will start hitting the market in 2010.

"This unprecedented level of demand will be matched with compromised supply as tough macroeconomic and capital market conditions persist over the next 18 months," Durkin said. "With our strong liquidity position and portfolio, Wood Partners is better positioned than most developers to take advantage of these fantastic multifamily acquisition and development opportunities."

About Wood Partners

Wood Partners is a national real estate company that acquires, develops, constructs and property manages high density and mixed-use communities. Through quality construction, responsible land development and intelligent design, our communities reflect the aesthetic and social fabric of the community and provide a luxurious living experience at a fair price. The company has been involved in the development of more than 36,000 homes with a combined value of more than $4.5 billion in the Southeast, Washington D.C., Texas, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and California. To learn more about Wood Partners, please visit our Web site at www.woodpartners.com

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