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LEBANON, NH-A Boston multifamily real estate firm with apartments throughout the Northeast has secured another asset, the latest a 160-unit property here in northern New England. Emerson Gardens was purchased by the Dolben Co. of Burlington, MA from SMC Management Corp. for $21.6 million.

Dartmouth College in abutting Hanover and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center have given the rural region bordering Vermont a solid economic base, Dolben Co. principal Dana Pope tells GlobeSt.com in explaining a belief in Emerson Gardens. “There seems to be good demand for apartments,” explains Pope, including a growing element of empty nesters returning to New Hampshire’s Upper Valley. That constituency should appreciate elements such as underground parking and elevators, says Pope, especially in a region well known for its enduring winters.

The seller is a Manchester-based real estate company that opened the property in 2004. Emerson Gardens consists of a pair of four-story buildings on a 5.7-acre site close to Downtown Lebanon. Each building has 80 two-bedroom, two-bath units averaging just over 1,100 sf. Features include wall-to-wall carpeting, washers and dryers and fully applianced kitchens. The grounds include barbecue stands and picnic areas and walking trails along the Mascoma River.

SMC Management Corp. was represented by the New England office of Apartment Realty Advisors. ARA members handling the transaction include Terry Scott, Travis D’Amato and Richard Robinson. Emerson Gardens had a 94% occupancy at the time of the sale. Scott agrees the robust economy cited by Pope stirred investor interest, as did a lack of competing product. Restraints on new development should make it harder to increase supply, he adds.

The Emerson Gardens investment was completed as part of a tax-free exchange by Dolben, a process Pope says the firm has used on other deals as well. A specialist in multifamily real estate, Dolben is a family-owned firm whose real estate roots date back to the 1920s. The focus in recent years has been on apartment development, investment and management. Dolben now has about 9,000 units in its control, mostly in Massachusetts, but also in Rhode Island, and the mid-Atlantic areas where it has been operating since the 1980s. “We like New Hampshire a lot,” Pope says in assessing future growth prospects in that market. Dolben owns a few assets near Concord, and would consider deals, but nothing is on the horizon, he says. “We are trying to be very selective,” he says, adding Dolben is not interested in pursuing untapped markets such as Florida or Texas.

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