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LAS VEGAS-Olen Properties of Newport Beach, CA has obtained permanent financing for Morningstar Apartments, a 195-unit property here that it completed in 2005. The property is in lease-up with 70% of the units currently occupied.

Holliday Fenoglio Fowler sourced the loan through Bank of America CMBS Capital Markets, a conduit lender. The 10-year fixed-rate loan has a 75% loan-to-value and a three-year interest-only period followed by a 30-year amortization schedule.

Olen Properties has a multifamily portfolio of 10,000 units in 33 communities primarily located in Las Vegas and South Florida. About 60% of the units are located in the Las Vegas area.

MorningStar Apartments is located at 3355 South Town Center Dr., near Interstate 15 and the McCarran International Airport. The complex has 20 buildings with seven different one- and two-bedroom floor plans.

The average unit size is 1,431 sf. Most units have views of the Las Vegas Strip or Red Rock Canyon and private garages. Community amenities include a clubhouse, fitness center, barbecue area, resort-style swimming pool and sports courts.

An Olen Properties executive could not be reached Wednesday for comment. HFF’s Don Curtis, who sourced the loan for Olen, says the 6,000 people moving to the Vegas area every month creates huge demand for the multifamily market.

In June, HFF funded a $40-million bridge loan for Santa Monica, CA-based Watt Genton Associates, an affiliate of Watt Commercial, in support of that company’s plans to convert the new 346-unit Coronado Bay Club luxury apartment complex here to condominiums. Funded by Babson Capital Management, the two-year adjustable-rate took out an existing US Department of Housing & Urban Development loan that was used to develop the property.

Brian Gordon, a principal with Applied Analysis, a locally based market research firm, says that with the escalation in housing prices and the lag in apartment rents, developers have found financial incentives to convert rather than operate as apartments. “I have seen a handful of these take place either prior to or just after completion, particularly in the southwest area of the city [where Coronado is located] because the area tends to have good accessibility to Interstate 215.”

While apartment rents are lagging, they are catching up rapidly, Gordon says. “Where before we could expect 3% annual rent escalations, this year is running 6% higher than 2005 and we expect them to see 8% to 10% annual growth until they become more in balance with housing costs,” he says.

Taking advantage of the expected growth, Phoenix-based Alliance Residential Co. is in the process of developing $110 million worth of new apartment complexes. The three new properties will double the company’s local inventory to about 1,180 units. Due to rising land and construction costs, the units will be housed in three-story garden-style buildings as opposed to the traditional two-story complexes built in Vegas.

Broadstone Montecito, the company’s 336-unit project on 15 acres at Grand Teton and Grand Canyon drives in Las Vegas will open June 15. Housed in 17 three-story buildings, the units will range from 725 sf to 1,250 sf, and the rents will range from $850 to $1,200 per month.

Broadstone High Desert, a 312-unit project planned for 15 acres on North Fifth Street in North Las Vegas, is scheduled to open in February 2007. Housed in 13 three-story buildings, the units will range from 664 sf to 1,248 sf and rents; rents have yet to be determined.

Broadstone Mountain View, a 186-unit project also on North Fifth Street in North Las Vegas, will consist of seven three-story buildings. It is scheduled for completion in June 2007.

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