Robbins Electra buying an apartment complex in the Hammocks

Ashley Lake Apartments and Joseph Lubeck
Ashley Lake Apartments and Joseph Lubeck

Multifamily real estate company Robbins Electra expects to spend about $1 billion this year on acquisitions of apartment properties, including one in the Hammocks community in southwest Miami-Dade County.

“We’ll be announcing that closing in mid-May, and we will be doing a full renovation to upgrade the property,” Joseph Lubeck, CEO and co-manager of Robbins Electra, told The Real Deal. The property, which he declined to name, is “a very substantial asset that we’re buying off-market.”

The company expects to acquire more apartment properties in South Florida, he said, even though it considers many of them overpriced.

“We definitely expect to make more acquisitions in South Florida, and several are under evaluation … [each] in need of superior management and value-added renovation,” Lubeck said from his office in Palm Beach Gardens, which serves as the acquisition, investment and sales office of Tampa-based Robbins Electra.

Robbins Electra also is preparing to sell the Ashley Lake Apartments in Boynton Beach in an off-market transaction. The company had bought the complex in 2012 for $27.1 million.  “It’s under contract now, but I can’t discuss the details,” Lubeck said. “The partners and investors felt this was a good time to recognize some profit … Most of our acquisitions are off-market and privately negotiated deals, where there’s not a significant bidding or auction environment.”

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Robbins Electra owns 30 apartment properties in Florida but only two in South Florida: The Ashley Lake Apartments and The Fountains in Palm Beach Gardens. The company owns and manages about 23,000 units in multifamily developments in Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Robbins Electra manages only its own apartment properties and doesn’t sell management services to other companies.

“We used to own quite a bit more in South Florida, Palm Beach and south. We sold most of that,” Lubeck said, “and right now, we feel the market is very overheated and overpriced, and as a result, we’re being very cautious with our acquisitions in South Florida.”  

The multifamily real estate market in the Southeast is gradually approaching a cyclical peak, Lubeck said, comparing it to a baseball game. “We are certainly in what I would call extra innings,” he said. “My crystal ball doesn’t tell me when the game is going to end. So, I’m still expecting, at least for the next few years, a steady environment.”

Robbins Electra was formed in November from the merger of Robbins Property Associates of Tampa and Electra America, the U.S. subsidiary of Israel-based Electra Real Estate, a publicly traded company listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

The two companies bought a total of $1.15 billion of apartment properties last year. “The combined entity now is the 44th largest apartment company in the nation,” Lubeck said, “and our goal is to do another $1 billion [of acquisitions] this year, provided we can buy product smartly to meet our goals and business plans.”