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LAKEWOOD, NJ-As part of a new marketing strategy, Lightstone Group has rebranded its residential subsidiary, Beacon Management, as Cedarbridge Residential. The locally based firm has also tapped 20-year multifamily industry veteran Jack Cassidy to head up the operation as president.

The name change was made in an effort to bring all of Lightstone’s apartment business, which comprises roughly a third of the overall company, under one umbrella, says Cassidy. He joins the firm from America First Apartment Investors Inc., where he was president and chief executive officer until the REIT was sold last year. The Cedarbridge brand, he says, will extend throughout the firm’s entire 22,000-unit multifamily platform. “Some properties were under the Beacon Management flag, others were referred to as Lightstone,” Cassidy says. “I think another reason was that the Beacon name is a relatively common one.” Cedarbridge, he adds, just happens to be one of the main streets in Lightstone’s home base.

Having just taken the helm of Cedarbridge, Cassidy admits he’s going through an adjustment period. The first order of business, he stresses, is to strengthen and integrate the firm’s operating platform. “At this point, my agenda is to really get my hands around the company and understand it a bit better,” he says. “We have a fairly large number of assets in the Detroit area, about 19 or so. We also have a large presence in New Jersey, as well as Upstate New York; Maryland; Washington, DC; North Carolina and a few properties in Florida. Part of my objective is to integrate all of these assets into one strong platform.

For instance, he continues, “Detroit has been operating as one separate platform because those assets were all gained from the acquisition of Home Properties. It’s operating extremely well in a very challenging market and we have some great people there. I also just hired someone to be the regional director down in North Carolina. I’m finding some very good people.”And next year, Cassidy relates, “we’ll probably look to grow the company–begin to formulate a strategy relative to acquisitions, see what markets to grow into and to expand in.” Right now, Lightstone is in the process of disposing some of its assets. “We’re getting some very good prices on a couple of properties in New Jersey, which is still a very strong market.”

He’s bullish on the apartment sector’s strength, even with the current issues the economy may be facing. Occupancies are holding strong in the firm’s properties in Maryland, New Jersey and Washington, DC, he says, and even Detroit, which is experiencing some weakness due to the unemployment situation and poor local economy. Lightstone’s affordable properties, most of which utilize the Section 9 program, are also doing quite well, he adds. “Multifamily is holding up pretty well in an otherwise difficult economic environment,” says Cassidy.

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