Lauderhill Partners LLC and Waterbridge Capital LLC have joined forces to form two student housing firms: Campus Evolution LLC and Campus Evolution Villages LLC. Lauderhill also acquired United Campus Housing Management Group (UCHMG) a company that manages student housing assets across the country.

Lauderhill was founded by Evan Denner and Andrew Stark. Mark Harries, formerly the CEO of UCHMG, now serves as chairman of the student housing company, which operates as Campus Evolution Villages LLC. Stark serves as CEO of the firm and Denner assumes the CIO role.

Harries has managed and repositioned dozens of properties, both on and off campus, over his career. Denner left his previous position as CIO of merchant banking at Cantor Fitzgerald to form Lauderhill in partnership with Stark.

Stark’s experience includes work in legal, finance, architecture, land development and construction as well as strategic planning and capital markets. He was instrumental in the early years’ growth of American Campus Communities, where he met Harries. Stark previously served as an executive managing director at Cantor Real Estate before stepping down to pursue the new venture.

Also, Barry Reichmann and associates of Reichmann International Development Corp., a Canadian firm, made a significant equity investment with Campus Evolution Villages.

NREI talked to Stark about how to keep up with changes in technology in the sector, how investors feel about the student housing sector and what issues are having a big impact on the industry. An edited version of that interview follows.

NREI: I'm sure we can all guess the differences between what things were like when we were in college compared to today's students. But what will the 2013 student demand that was not on the table even, say, five years ago?

Andrew Stark: The student population and the parents are sophisticated and demanding consumers. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms are the growing norm and the demand for more and more bandwidth are always forefront issues. Also, stand-alone “cottages” that live like private homes have grown in popularity. We believe that lifestyle and how the tangible and intangible student experience is delivered will be the distinguishing factor going forward.

NREI: Given that you are working with housing that is expected to last a long time—how do you do that and yet keep it open to new technology and developments that will come along in the years to come?

Andrew Stark: Keeping up to date with growing technology and social shifts due to technology requires a two-pronged concentrated approach. First, it is imperative to continually update and upgrade your technology and means of delivery and second, is to have a hands-on approach with the student resident through on-site and corporate level resident life and social media experts who can keep you current.

NREI: How do investors feel about the campus market right now? Why is the mood the way that it is?

Andrew Stark: Student housing, while not recession proof, tends to be recession resistant and somewhat counter-cyclical in nature, which is attractive to us and our investors. Campus Evolution Villages is a student housing only focused management team with a keen focus on the “student lifestyle experience,” driving value and returns for our investors.

Assets in this sector are management intensive and are distinctly different than traditional multifamily assets, which in our case, provides an advantage over other asset classes like traditional multifamily. They require the right student housing only focused management team to achieve returns—a distinction investors appreciate.

NREI: Why do you think this sector is particularly attractive to you right now as an executive?

Andrew Stark: Student housing is a relatively new asset class and as such is highly fragmented. We believe that this presents us with the opportunity to grow our best-in-class team and deliver a superior experience to our constituents—our students, their parents and universities.

NREI: What is the biggest legislative, regulatory or economic issue facing the sector now and what do you think can be done about it?

Andrew Stark: The student loan debt levels are teetering into a crisis mode and there has been little done to address the issue. Student loans are a cornerstone to higher education in the U.S. The student loan debt levels must be kept in balance and the terms themselves need to be looked at in relation to other borrowing costs, such as auto and home. As it is, it is some of the most expensive type of borrowing.

DDR Corp. Names New President

DDR Corp. named David J. Oakes president of the company.

Oakes had been serving as senior executive vice president and CFO for the firm. He joined DDR as executive vice president of finance and CFO in April 2007. He serves on DDR's management, executive, compensation and enterprise risk management committees, chairs the investment committee and is a director of Sonae Sierra Brasil, the company's publicly traded joint venture that owns and manages high-quality shopping centers throughout Brazil.

Prior to joining DDR, Oakes served as senior vice president and portfolio manager at Cohen & Steers Capital Management. In that role, he was responsible for the firm's global and international real estate securities portfolios. Previously, he worked as a research analyst in global investment research at Goldman Sachs.

NGKF Adds Two Firms to Portfolio

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s parent group, BGC Partners Inc., made two big acquisitions, snapping up Smith Mack in Philadelphia and Denver’s Frederick Ross Co.

Smith Mack’s founding partners Sidney (Sid) Smith, Jeff Mack and Reid Blynn have been named executive managing directors of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. The team will be accompanied by virtually all of Smith Mack’s existing brokerage and advisory professionals, who will occupy offices in downtown Philadelphia; Wayne, Pa.; Wilmington, Del. and Marlton, N.J. with the NGKF professionals.

Services will include tenant brokerage, ownership representation, investment sales, corporate advisory services, property and facilities management, market research and lease administration, as well as capital markets resources and capabilities through BGC’s relationships with Cantor Fitzgerald and Cantor Commercial Real Estate.

In Colorado, BGC acquired Frederick Ross Co., the oldest full-service commercial real estate firm in Denver and partner of NGKF. Jack Box has served as president and CEO of Frederick Ross for 24 years and will assume the title of chairman for that NGKF region.

Kevin McCabe, who is credited with growing the Denver office brokerage division by 45 percent since his arrival in 2011, was named executive vice president and managing director for Colorado.

NGKF’s Denver office offers tenant brokerage, ownership representation, investment sales, corporate advisory services, property and facilities management, market research, lease administration and client accounting, in addition to other global services provided by NGKF.

Mellits Promoted to Chair of Ballard Spahr’s Real Estate Department

Bart I. Mellits, who represents clients nationwide in real estate leasing, acquisition, development, and financing transactions, became chair of Ballard Spahr’s real estate department.

Mellits will lead a department of 110 lawyers in 11 of the firm’s 13 offices. He will be directing the development and leasing of biotech parks, university research facilities, and medical office buildings; warehouse and distribution facilities; regional shopping centers; and hotels and office buildings. He has held a variety of leadership positions at the firm, serving as vice chair of the real estate department and a member of the firm’s elected and expanded boards.

Mellits succeeds Michael Sklaroff, who established the department at Ballard Spahr 25 years ago. He will continue his active practice in real estate development, land use and eminent domain.

Lowe Welcomes SVP

Laurence A. Welsh joined Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group as senior vice president to lead the firm’s commercial real estate activities in the Washington, D.C. area.

He will oversee operations for Lowe’s existing commercial portfolio and seek new commercial property acquisition opportunities. Welsh comes to Lowe from Falcon Real Estate Management, where he served as a vice president. There, he handled asset management as well as acquisitions and dispositions totaling $1.6 billion in asset value. Prior to that, he was a portfolio manager with TrizecHahn, overseeing a 1.7 million-sq.-ft. portfolio of commercial assets in Northern Virginia.

DeRoche Joins NAI San Diego as SVP

NAI San Diego hired David DeRoche as senior vice president and managing director of brokerage services.

He will also be responsible for sales management and recruiting, and growing property management accounts nationwide.

DeRoche comes to NAI from SENTRE Partners, where he was a senior vice president focused on class-A office leasing in downtown San Diego and suburban markets.

Bell State Bank & Trust Hires SVP

Julie Lovaas has been hired as senior vice president – business banker at Bell State Bank & Trust in Minneapolis. Lovaas will provide commercial loans and assist businesses with other banking needs. She has been in the banking and finance field for 17 years.

Lahn Named VP at WNC

WNC named Jonathan Lahn vice president, operations for the company, a national investor in real estate and community renewal initiatives.

Lahn is responsible for sourcing and securing partnerships in low income housing tax credit properties (LIHTC) in the Southeast United States. He comes to WNC from another nationally recognized tax credit syndication firm, where he was vice president, originations, responsible for LIHTC originations in the Mid-Atlantic and Carolinas. In addition to co-founding a real estate firm specializing in tax credit properties, Lahn spent three years with a national tax credit syndication group where he was responsible for all aspects of the acquisition process from the company’s Charlotte, N.C. office.

Transwestern Expands in Mid-Atlantic, Hires in Atlanta

Transwestern expanded its Mid-Atlantic service offering by adding a government services team.

Peter Marcin and Matt Lynch will lead the group based in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. Prior to joining Transwestern, Marcin was the executive director and head of Cushman & Wakefield’s federal practice group, based in Washington, D.C. Having formerly served as in-house broker for the General Services Administration, Marcin has been lead broker on more than 10 million sq. ft. of commercial office lease transactions with the federal government in the greater Washington, D.C. area, with a total contract value of more than $3 billion.

Lynch specializes in representing building owners in transactions, securing tenants such as the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Personnel Management, Department of Justice, Department of Defense, Department of Interior and the State Department. Prior to joining Transwestern, Lynch was a member of the federal practice group at Cushman & Wakefield. He has more than 15 years of experience as an attorney and real estate broker.

In addition, Bo Jackson has joined Transwestern’s Atlanta office as managing director and partner.

Jackson is a 33-year veteran of the commercial real estate industry and has worked in leasing and sales brokerage, advisory, valuation, asset management, investment services, real estate development and project management. Over the course of his career, Jackson has provided real estate solutions to multi-market corporations, local firms and private and institutional investors.

Prior to joining Transwestern, Jackson served as executive vice president for Colonial Properties Trust, overseeing a portfolio of about $3 billion in assets under management across 145 properties in six states.

Florida Firm Merges with Cassidy Turley

Florida-based CLW Real Estate Services Group joined Cassidy Turley and will operate under the firm’s name.

CLW was consistently one of the top commercial real estate services firms in the Tampa Bay market and one of the largest privately held services firms regionally. Additionally, more than half of its brokerage business is derived from office and industrial tenant representation and corporate services activity outside of Florida.

With the merger, CLW Principals Doug Rothschild and Lou Varsames will serve as executive managing directors. Cassidy Turley’s Tampa office will combine with CLW’s existing operations, which include more than 20 brokerage professionals and 100 total employees.

Industrial Services Pro Joins CBRE

CBRE Group Inc. appointed Scott Marshall executive managing director of industrial services.

He will lead 850 company professionals focused on warehouse, distribution and logistics properties in the Americas. Marshall succeeds Ed Schreyer, who was recently promoted to president, agency brokerage and asset services for CBRE in the Americas. Marshall’s appointment is effective April 1.

For the past two years, Marshall served as a senior managing director at CBRE’s Oak Brook, Ill. office, where he oversaw the Chicago area industrial and suburban office agency groups. He also oversees CBRE’s global supply chain practice group and sits on the advisory board for the Americas industrial business. Marshall joined CBRE in January 2011 and came from Colliers International, where he managed the firm’s strategy and development of the suburban office and industrial groups.

USAA Welcomes New Exec for New NYC Office

USAA Real Estate Co. brought on Thomas V. Bermingham as managing director of investments, overseeing acquisition, development and joint venture opportunities for the newly opened Northeast regional office, located in New York City.

Bermingham will work with USAA's investment management team to refine asset strategy in key northeast markets, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Boston.

Bermingham's career includes 11 years as executive managing director for Insignia Financial Group, later acquired by CBRE, overseeing the firm's New Jersey branch before directing all international corporate services between the U.S. and Europe from London. Most recently, he served as senior vice president of Patrinely Group, an affiliate of Crimson Real Estate Fund LP, leading its acquisition team and supervising development in the Northeast region. CREF is a real estate opportunity fund in which USAA Real Estate Co. is a significant investor.

Sabel Joins Norris & Stevens

Norris & Stevens Inc. welcomed Rich Sabel, who will work in office sales and leasing.

Sabel was formerly with CBRE and specialized in the Portland, Ore. and Vancouver office markets. During his tenure there, he negotiated more than 300 transactions totaling in more than $250 million in property leased or sold. His client list includes Bonneville Power Administration, State of Oregon, U.S. Bancorp Leasing and Financials, Manpower and the Federal Reserve Bank.

Pircher, Nichols & Meeks Welcomes New Associate

Daniel W. Finley joined Pircher, Nichols & Meeks as an associate in the Los Angeles office and an addition to the law firm’s real estate practice.

Prior to joining Pircher, Nichols & Meeks, Finley worked as a real estate associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP in New York. There, he represented landlords, tenants, purchasers, sellers, lenders and borrowers in connection with the leasing of office and retail space, the acquisition and disposition of office, retail, residential and hotel properties and the origination of commercial mortgage and mezzanine financings.

Lawyer Named to Partner at Kasowitz

Douglas Heitner been named to partner with Kasowitz’s transactional real estate group.

Since Heitner joined the law firm as an associate 18 months ago, he has represented several major clients. Major deals include the New Valley/Witkoff Group joint venture, with respect to the $600 million acquisition and financing of 701 Seventh Avenue, to develop a mixed-use retail, signage and hotel project.

Pinnacle Housing Exec Joins FHLBank Atlanta Board

Pinnacle Housing Group’s Regional Vice President Timothy Wheat was appointed to the Affordable Housing Advisory Board of the Federal Home Loan Bank in Atlanta.

FHLBank Atlanta is a cooperative bank that offers competitively priced financing, community development grants and other banking services to help member financial institutions make affordable home mortgages and provide economic development credit to neighborhoods and communities.

Wheat joins a 15-member council comprised from a group of community, not-for-profit, and for-profit organizations actively involved in providing or promoting low- and moderate-income housing and/or community lending within the FHLBank Atlanta district. The Advisory Council provides advice to FHLBank Atlanta’s board of directors regarding ways in which the Bank can enhance the effectiveness of its housing finance mission and community lending programs, products, and services.

Marketing Execs Join SRS

SRS Real Estate Partners hired marketing professionals for the Atlanta and Denver offices.

Challotine Cius and Kelsey Madson have joined the team as marketing coordinators and will be responsible for executing the national and local marketing strategies. Their duties will include broker transaction support, SRS identity building and lead generation initiatives.

Cius previously was self-employed at Deloude LLC, where she worked as an administrative and business subcontractor for four years. There, she managed entire marketing plans including events, promotions, media placement, research and social media for a variety of clients.

Madson joins SRS from Black Events & Marketing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. There, she was the events and marketing coordinator where she handled marketing plans for clients, including managing their media and advertising, developing and fulfilling marketing collateral and managing email campaigns.