FORT WORTH-AmeriSouth Realty Group of Dallas, known for its repositioning abilities, has acquired a 131-unit complex that at one time was heralded as the most luxurious apartment community in Fort Worth. A makeover is on the drawing boards for the 47-year-old holding bought from Denver-based AIMCO.

The 95%-occupied Taj Mahal at 2600 Merrick St. on the city’s West Side has gone for close to $2.5 million, with the new buyer planning to pump $3,500 per unit into upgrades. It is the fourth multifamily holding to trade between AIMCO and AmeriSouth.

“I’m told that at one time it was the finest apartment complex in Fort Worth,” Ruel M. Hamilton, AmeriSouth’s president, tells The freeway-fronting property’s positioning at the intersection of Camp Bowie Road and Interstate 30 made it well worth the chase.

“We went in with hard money on Day 1…and they knew us,” Jeff Ratliff, executive vice president in AmeriSouth Real Estate Services Inc., says of the ability to take the deed although it wasn’t the highest offer on the table in the sealed-bid sale. Dirk Goris, senior vice president for CB Richard Ellis Inc. in Dallas, represented AIMCO. John Brownlee of Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP in Dallas arranged the acquisition and rehab financing through Comerica Bank.

Hamilton says AIMCO acquired the asset about eight years ago in a portfolio purchase. The sale is just part of AIMCO’s planned disposition strategy.

The Tarrant County Appraisal District assessed the complex, situated on 1.8 acres, at $834,400 for 2002. In keeping with AmeriSouth practice, the plan is to replace the kitchens, built with mahogany cabinetry, and baths as well as other interior changes. Meridian Commercial will start the interior improvements after the holidays.

The upside potential will become reality when the work’s done and the rents rise. The complex, which has an average unit size of 869 sf, brings in 61 cents per sf. The market rate in that area of town is 72 cents per sf, says Ratliff.

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