Renaissance Lofts in Atlanta to be reborn as condos Renaissance Lofts, a downtown Atlanta apartment building, will be converted into a condominium tower. Miami-based LNR Property recently sold the 16-story, 186,000 sq. ft. building to Atlanta-based Renaissance Loft Partners LLC for more than $17.6 million. Margaret Wright, executive vice president and principal of Atlanta-based Meridian Property Group Ltd., brokered the transaction.

Conversion of the apartments began immediately after the sale. Closing on the individual units is expected to begin within the next four months. The building features one- and two-bedroom floor plans, with prices from $80,000 to $270,000. Amenities include an exercise room and views of downtown Atlanta. Renaissance Lofts is one of three buildings in the 335,000 sq. ft. Renaissance Square; the others are office buildings.

GMAC Commercial Mortgage closes New York-sized loan Horsham, Pa.-based GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corp. has closed a $103 million refinancing loan on 200 Water Street, a 31-story, 576-unit apartment tower in Manhattan. 127 John Street LLC, an affiliate of New York-based Rockrose Development Corp., is the developer, owner and manager of the building, which was converted from vacant office space. The 583,000 sq. ft. tower, which sits at the intersection of Water and Fulton Streets, offers residents views of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge.

The loan was originated and underwritten by GMAC Commercial Mortgage through Freddie Mac. According to GMAC, the loan is the second-largest ever originated through Freddie Mac. GMAC Commercial Mortgage vice presidents Diane Papsidero, Gloria Mo and Irwin Boris, all based in the company's New York City office, served as loan officers on the transaction.

LaSalle Investment arranges San Diego apt. sale Chicago-based LaSalle Investment Management Inc. has purchased Coronado Bay Club, a 549-unit, 384,093 sq. ft. luxury-apartment complex in Coronado, Calif. The property, purchased on behalf of a pension fund for $55 million, was formerly known as Oakwood Coronado Apartments. The seller, represented in the transaction by Chicago-based Moran & Co., was Los Angeles-based R&B Realty Group. San Diego-based ConAm Management will serve as the leasing and management agent.

Coronado Bay Club, which consists of 19 buildings, was built in 1970 and sits on San Diego Bay. The complex features views of the city's skyline, a heated swimming pool, a whirlpool jacuzzi, four lighted tennis courts, a lighted volleyball court and a hair salon. Other amenities include a two-story clubhouse with an indoor golf driving range, two fitness centers, a billiard room and a theater. Due to the complex's proximity to a ferry route to downtown San Diego, Coronado Bay Club will also offer apartments to corporate and individual renters on a short-term basis.

Applied opens condo tower across river from Manhattan The Gotham, a 220-unit condominium tower in downtown Jersey City, N.J., has opened. Hoboken, N.J.-based Applied Development Co. is the developer, owner and manager of the 22-story, 280,000-sq. ft building, which has 20,000 sq. ft. of ground-floor retail space. Located on Jersey City's waterfront, The Gotham offers residents views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

The $40 million project features studio and one- to three-bedroom floor plans, with rents ranging from $1,285 per month to $2,850 per month. Each unit features a kitchen with European-style cabinetry and granite-patterned countertops, and a washer and a dryer. Other amenities 24-hour concierge, indoor and outdoor children's play areas, and a fitness facility.

Joint ventures purchase Newport Beach apartments Atlanta-based Lend Lease Real Estate Investments Inc. has entered into two joint-venture agreements, with an institutional investor client and Palo Alto, Calif.-based Essex Property Trust, to purchase two apartment complexes in Newport Beach, Calif. The Coronado at Newport - South and The Coronado at Newport - North were purchased for $64.5 million and $62 million, respectively.

Each joint venture is a private REIT. Lend Lease and its client own a 50.1% interest in both properties; Lend Lease's interest is less than 1%. During the next three years, the three partners intend to spend $28 million renovating both properties. The improvements will include upgrades of the fitness and business centers.

Together, the two complexes have 1,447 units. The apartments range in size from 406 sq. ft. to 1,079 sq. ft. in two-bedroom units. The properties also feature covered parking, private balconies, fitness centers, lighted tennis courts, clubhouses, sand volleyball courts, basketball courts and pools.

Patrician provides lofty loan for Virginia Beach complex The Patrician Financial Co., Bethesda, Md., has provided a $21.2 million refinancing loan to Charlotte-based Marina Shore Associates One LP for Marina Shores, a 392-unit apartment complex in Virginia Beach, Va. The interest rate on the project was fixed at 8% for 40 years with 40-year amortization. Funding was through the Department of Housing and Urban Development's FHA Section 223(a)(7).

Sherman lassos Rocking Horse apartment complex Chicago-based Benj. E. Sherman & Sons has purchased Rocking Horse Ranch Apartments, a 356-unit complex in Round Rock, Texas, a suburb of Austin. The sales price was approximately $24 million. The seller was San Antonio-based Callaway Development Corp.

Benj. E. Sherman & Sons now owns three apartment communities in the Austin metropolitan area. The company also owns two complexes in Dallas and one in San Antonio.

Clarion arranges sale of Avignon in Washington state New York-based Clarion Partners has purchased Avignon, a 272-unit apartment complex in Redmond, Wash., on behalf of a pension fund client. The seller was Atlanta-based Trammell Crow Residential. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The complex features townhome-style units and consists of 39 three-story buildings. The property has a pool, sauna, fitness facility and business center. Other amenities include proximity to a local recreational trail, a park and an open-air shopping center that features 50 stores and an eight-screen movie theater.

Lincoln National arranges king-sized sale of Seattle's Queen Anne Square On behalf of Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Lincoln National Life Insurance Co., Chicago-based PM Realty Group Investment Services recently negotiated the $29.6 million sale of Queen Anne Square, a mixed-use complex in Seattle. The buyers were Seattle-based Sabey Corp. and Seattle-based Security Properties Inc. Duane Jones and Will Kralovec, senior vice presidents of PM Realty Group Investment Services, were the brokers in the transaction.

Containing 148,386 sq. ft. of office space and 75 apartment units, Queen Anne Square occupies an entire city block in Seattle's Queen Anne district. According to the terms of the sale, Sabey Corp. will own and manage the office portion of the square, while Securities Properties will own and manage the apartments.

L.J. Melody arranges financing for Florida apartments Houston-based L.J. Melody & Co. has arranged $26 million in construction and equity financing for Fort Myers Apartments, a 360-unit luxury apartment complex to be built in Fort Myers, Fla. Charlotte-based First Union National Bank provided the construction financing and Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide Realty Investors provided the equity financing. Tampa, Fla.-based CKT Development Co. is the developer.

An antidote to sprawl These days, with more and more cities experiencing the various woes of sprawl, the topic of how to grow our cities in practical and healthy ways is seemingly on everyone's mind. The Washington, D.C.-based National Multi Housing Council and the Alexandria, Va.-based National Apartment Association have produced a report entitled "Growing Smarter with Apartments Toward More Livable and Proseperous Communities" that deals with that very topic. The study notes that apartments are key to livable growth.

"An increasing number of households now prefer apartment living, even though they could afford to buy a home," the report finds. "In fact, according to a U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey, the fastest growth in apartment renters in 1999 occurred in households with incomes over $50,000 a year."

The study then attempts to dispel what it says are myths about apartments. For example, it notes that, "apartments contribute fewer children per household to school systems than single-family homes." According to Census Bureau statistics, "in 1999 only 20% of all occupied apartments had one or more school-aged [5-18] children, compared to 33% of owner-occupied single-family homes. Additionally, the average apartment household has 0.5 children, while single-family homes have 0.7."

Also, those who claim apartments decrease the value of surrounding single-family homes are wrong, the study argues. The brochure reprints statistics from the Washington D.C.-based Urban Land Institute that say from 1987 to 1995, the value of homes located within 300 ft. of apartments increased at a rate of 3.12%, compared to 3.19% for other homes. Apartments are "fully compatible" with neighborhoods, the report says.

As for the notion that apartments create higher crime rates, "there is little evidence that the rate of police activity is higher in apartment communities than in single-family residences." Apartment residents also use public transportation more than home owners and have fewer automobiles per household, the study says.

Finally, the brochure spotlights apartment communities in Atlanta; Bellevue, Wash.; Richmond, Va.; Cary, N.C.; and St. Louis that are designed to provide a more convenient lifestyle and cut down on automobile trips. These complexes bring office and retail facilities close - often within easy walking distance - of residential units.

Living in Atlanta - the mecca of sprawl - I was an easy target for this report. I find the trend of live/work/play developments very exciting and found myself wanting to read more about them. But this is interesting reading for anyone in the multifamily industry. With colorful photos and easy-to-read graphs, this informative read is easy to follow.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to battle traffic.