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HOUSTON-Making its second buy in the area, WestCorp Management Group has closed on the 408-unit Steeples Apartments, paying $16 million for the class B complex. The buyer, with three more deals to close before yearend, plans to place $100 million in Greater Houston.

Venterra Realty sold the 30-year-old Steeples at 2151 S. Kirkwood Rd. after a five-year hold and a $1.5-million renovation. Teresa Guidotti Lowery, principal and partner with Colliers International’s Houston office, and vice president Saul Keeton and associate Lynn Stewart represented the local seller. They also put the deal on WestCorp’s desk.

“WestCorp is a value-add buyer and an opportunity buyer, but they don’t go in for deals with occupancy and revenue problems,” Lowery adds. “They like to buy in strong areas where they can raise rents by doing some cosmetics.”

Situated on 11.35 acres, the 93%-leased Steeples has studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments, ranging from 454 sf to 1,057 sf. Monthly rents average 81 cents per sf.

Mark Taylor, senior vice president of acquisitions and partner for the Las Vegas-based WestCorp, says $1 million is earmarked for upgrades to add more value to Steeples. Recently, WestCorp bought the 780-unit St. Charles Place at 8900 Fondren Rd., which needs significantly more work, according to Taylor. The two complexes are about 10 miles apart.

Taylor tells GlobeSt.com that another 1,000 units should be in hand by the end of the year. Ultimately, the investment group wants to own and renovate 2,200 units in the market. The company’s plan is to buy properties in the inner loop. Outside of Houston, WestCorp also is targeting likely assets in San Antonio and Austin, Taylor adds.

Once WestCorp amasses its portfolio, the plan is to hold it for awhile. “We’ll keep this for at least five years,” Taylor says. “If there’s an opportunistic sale, we won’t say no, but as a rule, we like a longer-term hold.” WestCorp has tapped Houston-based Asset Plus Properties and Devonshire Management Corp. of Urbana, IL to manage the portfolio.

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