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SilverBrick Group acquires Morgan Square Apartments, plans renovation

Aug. 6, 2014 | Peter Spotts

The new owners of Morgan Square promise to make a $6 million investment in the downtown apartments.
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – Springfield continues to grow and a new real estate developer is coming to the City of Homes looking to bring market rate housing to the downtown area.

The SilverBrick Group, LLC, announced the acquisition of the Morgan Square Apartments from the Lone Star Fund on July 30.  Erik Dowling, director of capital sourcing for SilverBrick, is excited about the potential that the location has after renovations.

“Springfield has a dearth of market rate housing downtown, and Morgan Square is ideally suited for market rate tenants as is, and will be even more so once we complete the extensive renovation plans,” Dowling said. “This property will be the premier place to live in the downtown area in the very near future.”

He said the “sole focus” of the company is to re-develop underperforming multi-family properties.

“We love the location in the heart of downtown, and adjacent to the Union Station project. It also fits our investment profile to identify mismanaged under-performing properties that can be turned around through active management techniques and strategic renovations,” Dowling continued. “Further, we took a look at Stockbridge Court, which is a similar property, same vintage, aesthetics, etc., which is running at nearly 100 percent occupancy, and achieving rents of approximately $1.40 per square foot, yet is in a less desirable location to Morgan Square.”

Located at 15 Taylor Street, the complex will be renamed “SilverBrick Lofts-Springfield” and Dowling thinks the property is a prime position to be competitive on the market right away.

“Besides Stockbridge there are no other properties in downtown Springfield that we would consider being in the competitive set to Morgan Square.  Therefore, due to the lack of supply, and the demonstrated demand in the rental market, we feel that once we complete the renovations, our property will be in an excellent position to outperform,” he explained.

Dowling has been in the real estate business for more than 15 years. While working on more than 20 projects, he has aggregated over $1 billion and will be putting his expertise into the renovations for Morgan Square.

“We are going to invest approximately $6 million in renovating the property,” Dowling said. “Enhancements will include a state of the art fitness center, game room and lounge, re-designed lobbies and leasing office, upgraded landscaping and courtyards and luxury finishes to the units such as granite counters, stainless steel appliances and wide plank flooring.”

He estimated each unit would receive $10,000 in “serious renovations.” The common areas would also cost about $10,000 per area.

The renovations are expected to take about 18 months, but the majority of the work should be done in the first six. Each unit will be made available for lease once its renovations are complete. Dowling hopes to have the first group ready to go soon.

“We hope to have the first renovated units online by the end of fall; however, in the meantime, we will be improving all the common areas and introducing new amenities,” he said.

He further explained, “However, since we only renovate a certain number of units at the same time, say blocks of 10 at a time, we will continue to market and lease many of the currently vacant units at the property in their current condition, subject to some minor upgrades and improvements to carpets, paint, appliances, etc. We will then renovate the remaining units as leases expire, and will offer existing tenants a priority choice to move into renovated units from their current apartments, and will rehab those once we gain access.”

Another improvement to the development is securing parking for the tenants in the nearby parking garage.

When asked about potential unit pricing, Dowling responded that they would be competitive with Stockbridge.

SilverBrick is making its first venture into the Springfield area, but they have had success in a neighboring state.

“This is our first project in Springfield; however we have another project 20 minutes south in East Hartford which is approximately 75 percent complete with regards to the renovations and we are well ahead on our leasing and rent projections there. We will be renovating Morgan Square to the same level of quality as we have been implementing in Hartford, and will be using much of the same materials,” Dowling said.

Those interested in more information about the apartments can contact Property Manager Dick Cavenaugh at 413-519-7903.

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