LAKE FOREST, CA-Essex Property Trust Inc. acquired the 225-unit Arboretum at Lake Forest apartment complex from a partnership of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. of Milwaukee and Fairfield Residential of San Diego for $31.8 million.

Essex, a publicly held real estate investment trust that specializes in multifamily properties, acquired the complex through its Essex Apartment Value Fund L.P., a private equity fund that the REIT formed in July 2001 with nine institutional investors as partners. The deal was brokered by Joe Leon of Hendricks & Partners.

Keith R. Guericke, president and chief executive officer of Essex, says the company was attracted to the Arboretum complex by both the property and its location in South Orange County, which has been a leader in Southern California job growth over the last 10 years, generating above-average rental growth.

The complex consists of nine three-story buildings, which include a leasing office and a clubhouse, and occupies more than 8 acres of landscaped grounds. The units range from one to three bedrooms and from 794 to 1,435 square feet, with rents ranging from $1,085 to $1,720 per month at the time of the sale. The location is close to the interstate-5 and 405 freeways, about five minutes from the Irvine Spectrum Business Park, one of the largest employment centers in Orange County.

The Arboretum is the eighth property Essex has acquired under the private equity fund, which has paid a total of $221.8 million for the eight properties, totaling 2,102 units, with more than 1,600 of them in Southern California.

Essex has interests in 89 West Coast multifamily properties comprising 19,994 units, and has 1,521 units in various stages of development in the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California, and the Pacific Northwest.

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