The seller is among several national REITs aiming to concentratetheir investments in core markets, prompting Home Properties todivest Mill Company apartments at 121 Margaret St. after a 10-yearhold. It was a similar reason that recently led Chicago-basedEquity Residential to harvest two apartment communities in nearbyYarmouth, explains Cushman & Wakefield Inc. executive directorSimon Butler, whose multifamily team negotiated all three deals."REITs have been strategically exiting a number of tertiarymarkets," says Butler, who anticipates more REIT sales will occurin the coming months in Greater Portland.

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Butler says the new owners of the South Portland asset will beresuming a renovation program that Home Properties had beenundertaking, an effort that has resulted in 40 of the units beingupgraded. New kitchens and bathrooms will be part of the overhaul,Butler says. Port Property Management has indicated it will seek toincorporate operational efficiencies into the development.

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All one-bedroom units averaging 543 sf, the Mill Company housingstock consists of 24 two-story, wood-frame buildings on a 3.4-acrewaterfront parcel overlooking Downtown Portland. "It's a nicespot," Butler says of the complex, constructed in 1943.

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About half of the $70 million of multifamily properties brokeredby C&W in the first quarter involved assets in GreaterPortland, with Butler and C&W executive director Biria St. Johncompleting six deals totaling 740 units. While a drop in the bucketup against the $1.25 billion sold by C&W's New England teamlast year, the opening frame offered a measure of hope, saysButler, especially given the sharp drop in commercial propertytransactions. "It was kind of as we expected," he says, adding theopening quarter tends to lag for apartment sales in general.C&W's capital markets group has several deals in progress, hesays, expressing confidence that the pace of closings will pick upby midyear.

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