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PHOENIX-Illinois-based Pace Management has made its first Valley buy, putting up $19 million for the 240-unit Riverwalk Apartments. The buyer has scouts out looking for more buys in the area.

San Diego-based Fairfield Residential Inc. developed the property, which is situated at 5345 E. Van Buren St. in the up and coming area of East Phoenix’s 44th Street Corridor. The sales price equates to more than $79,000 per unit.

The Riverwalk Apartments are in an area once considered one of the Valley’s worst. It has made a dramatic turnaround the past five years. New offices and residential projects are driving out less desirable elements that once pockmarked the area. The office submarket has become of the best performing in the Valley.

East Phoenix apartments lease for an average of $708 per month, a figure that’s somewhat dragged down by the substandard properties that remain in the area. The average rent Valleywide is $668 per month. The vacancy rate near Riverwalk is about 6.2% in comparison to 6.6% Valleywide.

Sky Harbor International Airport is about two miles west of the Riverwalk Apartments, and several major freeways are all within a few minutes drive. If issues regarding safety can be resolved, Tempe plans to build the new $335-million football stadium about a mile east of the apartments. That project is sure to attract dozens of new amenities, including hotels, restaurants, shops and bars.

Seller Fairfield Residential has been on a selling spree for several years in the Valley. The multifamily developer also has it Red Rock Villas, a 360-unit complex adjacent to the Riverwalk, on the market and is said to be asking nearly $30 million for the holding. The Phoenix office of Hendricks & Partners, with brokers Mark Forrester and Bob Bruno, negotiated Riverwalk’s sale and hold the Red Rock Villas’ listing.

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