Archive for December, 2013

Going Modular at Hilltop House

The Triad Business Journal reports that by going with modular construction, Hilltop House will be able to open a month earlier than it would have using standard construction techniques:

Modular installation allows for greater quality control than a standard construction project, as well as bringing the project to the market faster, said Tom Calloway, CEO of CJMW Architecture, which was the project’s architect.

“When they’re building in a factory, they can build in a safer, more secure environment, and they don’t have weather delays,” Calloway said. “In designing Hilltop South, you would not know that it’s modular, because we’ve been able to create the appropriate aesthetic.”…

The Hilltop South one-bedroom units were manufactured by Carolina Building Systems in Salisbury and transported by truck to Winston-Salem. At 630 square feet, each unit is 48 feet long and 12.5 feet wide.

“We have to fit under bridges and on the roadway,” said Kevin Jarrett, senior associate with CJMW Architecture. “The real neat thing is to walk into one of these boxes and you’re walking into a finished apartment. All it’s lacking is the final coat of paint. Otherwise it’s complete down to the final lightbulbs.”

You can see a slideshow of the construction on the Triad Business Journal’s website.


December 31, 2013 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

Fair Housing Case Moves Forward in Federal Court

From the Wall Street Journal Law Blog:

The reach of U.S. fair-housing law has been an elusive topic for the Supreme Court, which has seen two recent housing cases disappear from its docket.  A new case moving forward in Washington may give the justices another opportunity.

To make matters more interesting, the judge presiding over the litigation is the newly famous Richard Leon, who last week ruled the National Security Agency’s mass collection of phone records “almost certainly” violates the Constitution.

At issue is the civil-rights era Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discriminatory housing practices.  Plaintiffs have used the law to challenge practices that affect minorities disproportionately, without having to prove intentional discrimination.  Advocates say the approach is key to protecting minority rights in some circumstances…

The latest case, filed in June, is a challenge by two trade associations representing the insurance industry.  The American Insurance Association and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies are challenging a Department of Housing and Urban Development regulation from February that explicitly allows disparate-impact claims.  They say the rule must be struck down because the Fair Housing Act “prohibits only intentional discrimination and not practices that result in a disparate impact.”

December 30, 2013 at 8:39 pm Leave a comment

Sometimes 300 SF is All You Need

From a Wall Street Journal article about the rise in popularity of micro apartments, even in markets that aren’t that expensive:

Micro apartments are about 300 square feet or smaller, though some developers and cities define them as large as 500 square feet. They sometimes lack a separate kitchen or bedroom.

Developers believe that single people in their 20s and 30s will accept less space in exchange for lower rent, even in cities where rent levels aren’t especially lofty. Nationwide, rents have soared as the supply of apartments hasn’t kept pace with demand.

“This is not a short-term phenomenon,” said John Infranca, an assistant law professor at Suffolk University in Boston who specializes in land-use law and has studied micro-apartment projects in several cities. “There is going to be demand for this housing going forward. The [trend] of an increasing number of singles in cities is staying steady across the country.”

But in small cities like those found in the Piedmont Triad this concept may not work:

Some real-estate executives aren’t sure that micro apartments would work in smaller or less expensive cities because rents aren’t sufficiently high to induce enough renters to give up space. “In smaller markets, the rent differential is such that, if you have a good job, you can typically afford the rent of a…full-size apartment,” said Jeffrey I. Friedman, chief executive of Associated Estates Realty Corp. AEC +0.32% , which owns 14,000 apartments averaging 975 square feet in 10 Midwestern and East Coast states.

Another potential problem for smaller cities is that they don’t always have the mass transit, night life and cultural facilities to lure younger workers to live downtown. “You can’t just drop these [micro apartments] in communities that don’t have the amenities to serve that kind of lifestyle,” said Kelly Saito, president of Gerding Edlen, the developer of the first of Boston’s new wave of micro apartments.

December 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm Leave a comment

Triad Business Journal’s Rundown of 2013 Apartment Projects

The headline says it all – Year in Review: Triad apartment market burned bright in 2013 – and it would be impossible to dispute reporter Catherine Carlock’s assertion that 2013 was a very good year for the Triad apartment market. What you might find most interesting is the list of over 20 articles the TBJ ran in 2013 about the apartment projects being proposed and built in the Triad.

Let’s hope 2014 is even better.


December 20, 2013 at 1:21 pm Leave a comment

Apartment Resident Mobility in NC

The Apartment Association of North Carolina recently collected statewide data about the duration of stay for apartment resident households. Responses were received from 92 apartment communities representing 18,000 apartment dwellings and comprised of a good sample by geography, community age, community size, and rental rate level. The formula to determine Annual Property Turnover Rate was # of Households Moved Out divided by # of Apartments.

By far the most common turnover rate for the respondents was in the 40-55% grouping (over 2/3 of the properties so reported). Over 1/4 of the properties reported that their turnover rates fall in the 56-70% grouping. Here’s how the numbers broke down:

Duration of Stay for Current Residents


Duration of Stay for Recent Move Outs


December 19, 2013 at 2:41 pm Leave a comment

Gov. McCrory Appoints McNeely to NC Structural Pest Control Committee

Congratulations to PTAA member Scott McNeely, a past member of the PTAA board of directors, for his appointment by Gov. McCrory to North Carolina’s Structural Pest Control Committee. From the press office’s announcement:

Structural Pest Control Committee
• Scott McNeely (Forsyth County) – McNeely is the president of McNeely Pest Control Inc. He received a B.S. in entomology from North Carolina State University.
The committee approves applications for structural pest control licenses, holds public hearings for the purpose of adopting new and/or amendments to rules and regulations, denies, revokes or suspends structural pest control licenses, certifies applicators’ cards or registered technicians’ cards and assesses civil penalties. The term length is four years.

December 17, 2013 at 9:20 pm Leave a comment

Preparation and Communication are Key in Disaster Preparedness

Multifamily Executive has a good article about how preparing your apartment communities for disasters and communication is a critical component:

Jill Heron was thankful to have community partners to turn to when a flood damaged 60 units at a Flaherty & Collins property last June in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Communication amongst staff members, residents and community partners was crucial as the company dealt with the water’s aftermath, says Heron, vice president of property and asset management at Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins…

“You have to make sure that people who are relaying information are calm and are relaying accurate information and are effective communicators,” she says. “It’s easy to lose your head in a situation very quickly.”…

Flaherty & Collins uses a mobile application to let residents know what is happening in the event of a crisis. They also have a text system for efficient emergency communication.

“We had that during the flood,” Heron says. “We were able to keep the communication going on with the residents.”

Unfortunately some disasters are extreme enough that communication systems break down completely and it’s at that point that you have to trust your preparation. Kansas-based firm Cohen-Esrey learned that the hard way after a tornado tore through Joplin, MO:

Clean-up crews weren’t able to get to the property in the days following the disaster, phone communication was spotty, road blockages prevented senior-level managers from getting into the city and the Cohen-Esrey on-site team was left to take charge without direct corporate instruction. Huffman recalls looking at the wreckage on television and trying to get through to his team to deploy resources.

“We were working with just a few text messages here and there,” he says.

Although none of the buildings on the company’s property were completely leveled to the ground, all of them were damaged to the point of being unsalvageable and had to be rebuilt. But two years later, Huffman can still speak with pride about the work his team did amidst the destruction.


December 16, 2013 at 8:33 pm Leave a comment

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