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(This story, in slightly different form, originally appeared in ALM’s Daily Business Review.)

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL-Apartment Investment and Management Co., one of the country’s biggest multifamily investors, has sold the Harbor Town at Jacaranda complex in suburban Plantation for $27.5 million and has 13 more properties on the market statewide. Chicago-based Henderson Global Investors closed on the purchase last week on behalf of its Casa Partners IV fund.

The complex was purchased as a value-add opportunity, with $11.8 million in tax-exempt bond financing, according to Henderson. The new owner plans to expand and upgrade the asset, including improvements to the clubhouse and landscaping and a new fitness center.

“This is a great time to be purchasing an asset in this submarkete, where Henderson has been an active player and had great success for over 10 years,” says Sue Motowidlak, co-portfolio manager for Casa IV. The purchase of Harbor Town is the 10th acquisition for the $205-million fund, raised from US institutional investors.

The deal marks the first multifamily purchase by an institutional investor since Chicago-based Equity Residential paid $68 million in June 2008 for the 464-unit Devonaire at Winston in Pembroke Pines, according to Robert Given, executive vice president with CB Richard Ellis in Miami who represented Aimco on the deal. He declined to provide details about the transaction.

A Henderson executive familiar with the deal was traveling and unavailable for comment. Aimco senior vice president John Spiegleman in Denver, who signed the Oct. 21 deed transfer, did not return a phone call.

Denver-based Aimco, as Jacaranda-Oxford LP and in a partnership with Oxford Realty Financial Group, paid $20.3 million in May 1998 for the 280-unit complex at 8101 NW 14th St. That’s considered a class A location, but the 22-year-old property’s age marks it down to class B-plus status, says Richard Donnellan, principal with Apartment Realty Advisors in Boca Raton.

“If it wasn’t for its age, it would be a class A property,” Donnellan says of Harbor Town. He notes that its units are designed well, averaging at least 1,100 square feet each.

Aimco is selling 85 properties nationwide, led by 14 in California and 13 in Florida, according to the company’s Web site. The Florida listings are split about evenly between the Tampa Bay and South Florida markets. Aimco owns 950 multifamily properties nationwide and 80 in Florida.

“They may be trying to get out of certain markets in Florida, but South Florida isn’t one of them,” says a broker who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Other large REITs also are looking to be in fewer markets across the country, including the major markets of Florida.”

Aimco spokeswoman Cindy Duffy said the company remains interested in South Florida investments: “The disposition of particular properties is not indicative of our view of a market but part of our larger investment strategy.”

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