SAINT JOHN – Saint John’s Historica Developments has a reputation for renovating and managing high-end apartments in the city, but president and CEO Keith Brideau says the company will be entering a more affordable market with its latest acquisition.
Historica Developments has purchased the uptown portfolio of Hazen Investments, a property management company that’s been operating in the city for 100 years.
The acquisition includes 20 buildings consisting of 150 apartments and approximately 150 parking spots. Historica also purchased a building Hazen owned on the city’s west side.
Brideau says the idea of purchasing Hazen’s uptown properties was one he had for a long time.
“When I think back more than five or 10 years, I always thought the Hazens have done a great job of maintaining their properties and they really do have a great portfolio,” he says.
The deal was in the works since the end of last year but was delayed when Covid-19 sent the province into lockdown back in March.
“Once things started to clear and the sun started to shine again we decided it was time to pull the trigger and move forward with the transaction,” says Brideau.
Unlike many of Historica’s previous purchases, Brideau says the company doesn’t plan to do any major renovations to the properties.
“Our first plan is to make sure we take good care of our tenants and to transition and operate the portfolio as well, if not better, than the Hazens have–and the Hazens have done an excellent job,” he says. “Our first job is to take care of the portfolio and just make sure our tenants are well- looked-after.”
Brideau says the work Historica will do the properties improving the exterior/common areas of some of the buildings, energy efficiency, and upgrading appliances when needed.
“As people move, we will likely upgrade them in terms of refinishing the hardwood floors, new countertops, and appliances. We’re not planning on gutting any buildings. We’re well known for major transformational projects, but these buildings are in great condition but in some cases, they’re just dated,” says Brideau.
“Some of the bathrooms are older and some of the appliances are 20 or 30 years old. It’s not to do anything major but to be a good landlord and improve the properties over time and to continue making them look better and better as time goes on.”
Historica has become known for buying and transforming properties into higher-end luxury units that cater to wealthier renters. Meanwhile, rents on Hazen’s uptown apartments range from $500 up to about $1,000.
Brideau says Historica plans to keep the units priced for the mid-level market.
“One of the opportunities I see is an opportunity in the middle of the market. We don’t want to be known as the expensive, high-end landlords. We actually think there is a lot of people out there who obviously can’t afford $1,500 or $1,800 a month,” he says.
“We want to take care of that middle market as well and offer a high-quality product but at a much more affordable price. The great thing we see with this Hazen acquisition is now we’re able to offer that quality product at a really good price.”
Though the mid-level renters market is a new one for Historica, Brideau says it’s a market with lots of opportunities.
“We believe everybody deserves a good roof over their head and we look forward to being the landlord that can take care of everybody,” he says. “It’s going to take some time. We’re looking at all kinds of other possibilities and we’re just happy to be moving into a wider market which is the middle-market.”