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TUCSON-With speculation running high in the market, DEC Investment Group Inc. is making it official: condo sales will start in early 2007 for the 176-unit Starr View Apartments at Starr Pass Resort. The Dublin, OH-based company owns the only multifamily product at the Sonoran Desert resort.

DEC Investment is just closing out an identical exit strategy at Starr View’s 224-unit sister situated at the resort’s northern end. DEC’s Bill Jump tells GlobeSt.com that $7 million will go into the conversion of the 22-building Starr View at 1050 S. Bill Martin Dr.

Jump says many market watchers believed the second conversion would come about due to the location and the one-month sellout of the Moonview Apartments at 101 S. Players Club Dr. DEC built the apartments roughly a decade ago.

“It’s the strength of the condo market, which has been unbelievable here in Arizona,” Jump says. He says the momentum “has slowed down a bit” so he’s expecting it will take one year to close the books on Starr View sales.

Starr View’s one-, two- and three-bedroom units average 1,000 sf. Rents range from $800 to $1,200 per month. Jump says residents’ notices will go out in 30 days, with offers to buy in the $200 per sf range.

Starr View sits on a 10-acre tract abutting the 27-hole championship golf course with clear views of the award-winning, 575-key JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa, the resort’s country club and the Tucson Mountains in one direction and the Downtown skyline in the other direction. Jump says he’s opened talks with Starr Pass resort owner Chris Ansley to get another development tract. Meanwhile, Ansley too is contemplating a condo building beside or close to the Marriott.

“Arizona, as the whole Southwest, is certainly going to reap benefits of basking in the sun,” Jump says. “There are still opportunities compared to California and Florida.”

DEC Investment sold a 7,500-unit multifamily portfolio three years ago. Jump says it’s coming back into the arena with a condo focus, eyeing conversion opportunities in Arizona, Texas and Colorado. The sweet spot is properties with 150 units or less with infill addresses “or topography like we have here at Starr View.” He says the investment group plans to undertake “two or three” projects per year. The first in Dallas is just beginning.Jump says the Dallas purchase will be paced through a $5-million overhaul to ready it for condo sales. “We expect to get to the market before the end of the year,” he says.

Jump says the to-be renamed Cedar Springs Crossroads will be tagged at $150,000 to $180,000 to keep the price point below its competitors. Units facing the property’s park might go for a bit more than $200,000. The model unit will be ready by the end of the month.

The marketing pitch to tenants is the sale prices won’t “be much more than they’re paying for rent,” Jump says. “If you can rent here, you can live here.” He expects Cedar Springs too will take a year to close out. “We’re trying to be realistic,” he says.

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