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ST. PETERSBURG, FL-NAI Tampa Bay represented Tampa-based Sage Partners LLC in the $6.8-million purchase of the Columbian Senior Apartments, a 188-unit building at 518 Third Ave. The seller was Jacksonville-based Demetree Bros., which has owned the 12-story building in Downtown St. Petersburg for more than 25 years.

The tax-exempt bond financed transaction took at least a year to complete and is one of the first of its kind to close in the US, as well as Florida’s first from the 2008 affordable housing cycle. The deal was made more challenging because of broader market forces, according to Casey Babb, senior associate with NAI Tampa Bay.

“This deal was a true test of resiliency on the buyer’s part as they were able to overcome numerous setbacks brought on by the global credit crunch and in the face of budget cuts in Tallahassee and a rapidly declining real estate market,” says Babb, who worked with fellow associate Bill Renje on the transaction. The new owner plans major improvements both within and outside the complex, which was built in the 1970s.

NAI Tampa Bay has closed five multifamily transactions in the local market dating back to December 2008. It has several other pending sales set to close later this year.

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