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New York investors buy ENMU-R housing; Renovations will create smaller units to boost occupancy

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The first part of renovations to Sierra Vista Village, purchased this year by a New York real estate group, is expected to be completed in January. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A New York real estate group has purchased student apartment properties at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales and Roswell and recently closed a $3.75 million loan for renovations.

Up Realty LLC, which includes Brooklyn real estate investor Gershon Eichorn, closed on the financing deal in late November with mortgage lender UC Funds, based in Boston, Massachusetts.

The realty company purchased the apartment properties in 2017, according to a UC Funds spokesperson. The purchase price is not known at this time.

UC Funds indicated in a news release that Eichorn plans to increase the occupancy rates of the ENMU housing units, which were about 50 percent to 60 percent rented during the fall 2017 semester.

Eichorn could not be contacted by press time.

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Together the two apartment complexes have 198 units and 525 beds, but renovations are intended to change four-bedroom units into two- and one-bedroom units, which would create a total of 267 units and 431 beds, according to the UC Funds information.

ENMU-R President Dr. John Madden said the first modifications on the Roswell campus housing complex are expected to be done by January.

That property, known as Sierra Vista Village, consists of three, three-story residential buildings and a community building with leasing offices and common rooms. The property is located on West Martin Street, near ENMU-R administrative offices and the campus swimming pool.

The first changes involve converting four-bedroom units into two-bedroom units.

“These are very smart, aggressive and wonderful partners that I think that we have on this particular arrangement,” Madden said at a Dec. 13 meeting. “They think that two bedrooms will sell better than four bedrooms. This is what they do for a living and I understand from my contacts in the East … they are pretty good at this.”

In the second phase, the timeframe of which is unknown, the realty group plans to convert the two-bedroom apartments created by the prior modifications into one-bedroom units, Madden said.

Then, in phase three, according to Madden, the new owners intend to make the top floor of a three-floor dorm building into apartments.

Madden said the decisions are based on the realty group’s marketing analyses about the preferences of millennials, those born after 1980.

“Their goal is to fill those (units), and we want them to,” he said. “That is a good thing for us, too.”

Two floors in one of the Roswell apartment buildings are dedicated to students enrolled in the the ENMU-R Special Services program, which provides academic programs as well as life skills training for people with disabilities.

Madden said that area would be the last to be renovated, which could be two to three years from now, and it is not known exactly what will happen to those units at this time.

According to the UC Funds release, when renovations are completed, Sierra Vista will have 129 units and 212 beds.

Madden also said that the realty group intends to manage the apartment complexes.

Chaves County real estate records list the former owner of the Roswell housing development as Santander Bank of Providence, Rhode Island.

The Portales complex, San Juan Village on West 17th Street, consists of five, three-story residential buildings and will be renovated to have 138 units and 219 beds.

Eichorn is described by UC Funds as the owner of properties in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. A September 2017 Albany Business Review article indicates that he and a partner operate Ten Plus Ten Realty of Brooklyn, a company that owns a five-story, 95,000-square-foot apartment building in downtown Albany.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.