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01/31/2012

Hillwood in Fort Worth hires market veteran to run apartment division

Hillwood Properties, developer of Alliance in north Fort Worth, plans a big push in apartment building in the next decade and said Tuesday it has hired a veteran in the multifamily market to lead those efforts.

Hillwood said it has brought on Mark McHenry as a vice president, who most recently led the southwest regional multifamily development operations for Atlanta-based Lane Co. to oversee the construction of about 3,000 apartments in the next 10 years at Alliance Town Center. McHenry also headed regional multifamily operations for JPI and United Dominion Realty Trust.

Housing demands at Alliance are greater because of the growing employment base there and the surrounding area, Hillwood said.

"We are committed to the multifamily product sector as a key component of our business strategy going forward," said Ross Perot, Jr., Hillwood’s chairman, in a statement. "The multifamily strategy complements our other core business lines at AllianceTexas. The ability to deliver quality multifamily housing as a residential option serves to enhance the appeal of the region for corporate employers, and retail and service companies evaluating the location or expansion of their business operations in the AllianceTexas region."

Hillwood currently has land zoned for more than 5,000 apartments, and that is located just east of Alliance Town Center, the 900-acre section in Alliance along Interstate 35W from North Tarrant Parkway to Golden Triangle Boulevard.

So far, Monterra Village, a 288-unit community south of North Tarrant Parkway, between I-35W and North Riverside Drive, is the only multifamily project in the 17,000-acre master-planned development. It opened in 2008 as the first smoke-free property in the Metroplex. Occupancy at Monterra Village stays at about 95 percent, Hillwood said.

In November, Hillwood said it has plans to add 262 units at Monterra Village. At that time, Hillwood said it has also built 7,645 homes at Alliance neighborhoods of Park Glen, Heritage and Saratoga. Hillwood recently announced a joint venture project with Realty Capital Management in Dallas to start building homes in the 1,000-acre Belmont project in Northlake and Argyle, just north of Alliance. Lots should be ready for home-building in the spring 2013.

Alliance Town Center has more than 850,000 square feet of existing retail space, but it also includes other office, medical and commercial uses. North Hills Hospital has opened an emergency room at Alliance Town Center and Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Alliance is scheduled to open this fall.

The pace of construction of the apartment communities, as well as their size, design and amenities, will be market-driven, Hillwood said. But, the developer said it anticipates building a new community every 12- to 18-months.

In addition to hiring McHenry, Hillwood also has brought in-house the management team for its multifamily division. Stephanie Isham was hired as property manager for Monterra Village. Isham previously served in senior property manager roles with Lincoln Property Co. and Riverstone Residential Group. Also, Christine Adeeb and Amy Perez, who have served as leasing consultants at Monterra Village for three years, have been hired as full-time Hillwood associates.

"We believe keeping management in-house gives us the best opportunity to control the operating expenses at our properties, while maintaining a consistent level of product quality and resident services that will lead to higher resident retention rates," said Mike Berry, Hillwood president.

_ Sandra Baker

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That's a good move by Hillwood. One good way of getting a leg up on the competition is hiring someone with a lot of experience to oversee things.

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