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WINTER HAVEN, FL-Making their first Central Florida acquisition, New York-based NDC Capital Partners LLC and Athena Real Estate LLC of Danbury, CT paid $4.2 million for Lucerne Lakeside. The 25-year-old, 140-site senior manufactured housing community on Lake Smart is in Polk County, 60 miles south of Downtown Orlando.

Richard J. O’Brien, who formed Athena in 2004, declined to disclose the corporate or individual name of the seller, “a very private individual.” O’Brien tells GlobeSt.com the property was on the market for “a very short time.” The all-cash deal took 75 days to complete, from contract signing to closing.

The 14-acre community has 10 homes per acre. The average gross rent paid for the land is $295 per month, “below market,” O’Brien says. He adds the rent depends on the site’s location near water, a corner or a standard lot. Buyers own their homes but pay monthly rent for the land. Lucerne Lakeside is 95% occupied.

O’Brien, a former chief financial officer of FelCor Lodging Trust and a former GE Capital Real Estate executive, tells GlobeSt.com the deal was done at this time because Lucerne Lakeside is “well-located in Winter Haven, a strong and growing retiree community.”

Additionally, the property “has strong occupancy with upside [potential] in rents at above inflationary levels,” O’Brien says. Other factors that influenced the partners’ purchase were “the growing housing prices with increasing demand by baby boomers and increasing aging population trends throughout Florida,” he says.

Athena is focusing on the acquisition of land leased by manufactured housing communities. “We like the risk/reward [element] of these properties because they have high margins, low capital expenditures and low resident turnover, especially in senior parks” such as Lucerne Lakeside, O’Brien tells GlobeSt.com.

“Low capital expenditures are one of the favorable aspects of the risk/reward of land-leased manufactured housing communities because the community owner is responsible for only the infrastructure of the property, while the residents maintain their homes,” O’Brien explains. “The infrastructure that the community owner is generally responsible for is the utilities and the roads.”

O’Brien adds, “Land lease communities have a stable income, which is also recognized well by the lender and investor community, providing for a patient structure to realize value.”

Although Lucerne Lakeside is the partners first acquisition in Central Florida, O’Brien says Athena has “a strong pipeline of approximately $50 million [in planned manufactured housing acquisitions] with $15 million under contract.”

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