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LAS VEGAS-In an off-market transaction, local developer Ken Templeton has sold a 2,219-unit senior living apartment portfolio here for about $239 million, or approximately $154 per sf (net rentable), making it one of the largest multifamily transactions in Nevada. The units are spread among nine properties located throughout Clark County. The Carefree Senior Living portfolio, as it’s known, is 95% leased. The new owner is a partnership of Orion Residential and a fund of Starwood Capital Group.

Orion principal Scott Knauer, the company’s chief investment officer, tells GlobeSt.com that Starwood Capital Group, which owns a piece of Orion, invested in the portfolio through its seventh opportunity fund. He describes the portfolio and “core, core-plus” and says he hopes to add some value by way of its property management partner, Seattle-based Leisure Care. Heretofore, the properties were self-managed by Templeton.

“This portfolio represents the vast majority of this type of housing in Clark County,” says Knauer. “We would like to expand [the portfolio with additional properties] in Las Vegas and other markets that are enjoying some fairly significant retirement in-migration.”

Specifically, Knauer says the JV intends to accumulate $1 billion worth of senior living apartment properties (including leverage) over the next couple of years and then re-trade the larger portfolio. Its future acquisitions in this regard will include existing properties–including non-senior apartment properties it can convert–and ground-up development. Knauer says the JV expects to close on market rate apartment properties in Sacramento and Denver in the next couple of weeks, and is preparing to submit a best-and-final bid on another asset in Scottsdale, AZ.

The Orion-Starwood JV used a 70% acquisition loan from Wachovia to complete the Carefree transaction. The loan was sourced by Holliday Fenoglio Fowler. Garry Cuff and Doug Schuster of NAI Horizon represented Orion in the transaction.

The brokers tell GlobeSt.com that Templeton developed all the properties and a couple of years ago rumors began that he was considering selling pieces of the portfolio for a variety of reasons. “So we just kept in contact, and about nine months ago we contacted him and it was pretty clear he was going to sell, and not just pieces but the whole portfolio,” Cuff says. “We knew Orion and knew they were looking to get into Vegas in a big way, so we spoke with Orion and two or three other legitimate buyers and Orion’s first offer on the property was the strongest and, we thought, the most serious, so we began a four-month dance of constant competitive negotiation [with Templeton] that had a lot of elements to it.”

Among the issues was Templeton’s protectiveness of the tenants, whom he had taken care of over the years by self-managing the property. “He had concerns about who would manage the properties going forward,” Schuster says. “He also wanted to make sure they weren’t converted to condominiums.”

Other issues included the condition of some of the properties–two were older and one was still under construction–and a loan on the property that had an attractive interest rate but only totaled about 50% of the purchase price. “So it was just a process, and at the end of the day Orion worked the hardest and I think [Templeton] saw that,” Cuff says.

The nine properties in the transaction are Carefree Valley View Full Service, Carefree Eastern Full Service, Carefree Spring Valley, Carefree Pebble, Carefree Sandhill, Carefree Valley View, Carefree Villas, Carefree Winterhaven and Carefree Pueblos in Summerlin. The communities were created for active adults over 55 years of age. Amenities include pools and spas, numerous planned social activities, exercise programs and facilities, clubhouses with reading rooms, computer facilities and complimentary scheduled transportation.

“This addition of the Leisure Care portfolio continues our business plan of reaching out to the leading edge Baby Boomer,” says Dan Madsen, Leisure Care president and CEO, in a prepared statement.

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