District Flats

A construction worker carries lumber past the entrance to the District Flats apartments in mid-August during the first day of tenant move-in. The nine-month-old complex is up for sale and is being listed by Institutional Property Advisors.

COLUMBIA — Nine months after it finished building District Flats, the Opus Group has put the student apartment building on the market.

The housing complex on Locust Street is being listed by Institutional Property Advisors, according to a brochure obtained by the Missourian.

The Opus Group completed District Flats in August. The six-story, 274-bed building is being offered "free and clear" of debt, according to the brochure. Since the apartment complex hasn't even been open a year, the brochure includes predicted pro forma numbers, which refers to what would be typical given current data.

The projected year-one income per bed is estimated at $11,476. Operating income pro forma is listed at $2.1 million and total expenses at $979,785. Revenue for all units at market rent pro forma totaled $3.14 million.

Neither the Opus Group nor Institutional Property Advisors responded to multiple requests for comment.

Wayne Hawks, a local developer who spoke at a May 16 Columbia City Council meeting in favor of a moratorium on new permits for student housing in and around downtown, told the Missourian that he has concerns about out-of-town developers who quickly sell the properties they build.

"These big developers are generally in it for the short haul," Hawks said. "They're going to be in it for no more than usually two to three years. This is outside money that comes into Columbia because we've been recognized as a small city that's a great place to invest."

He said this isn't a good thing, however. Hawks worries that big developers are taking advantage of the city.

"I wish I could say they really care, but when it's all said and done, they care about the bottom line: How much they make," he said.

Nevertheless, Hawks said, this is how big developers work. "Get in, build, sell."

Hawks said at the City Council meeting that he was holding off on plans to build a 100-apartment complex near Stony Creek Inn, saying he was apprehensive about the ability of Columbia's infrastructure to handle more large developments.

Jack Cardetti, spokesman for the Columbia company Trittenbach Development, said its business model is to build and operate long term. Trittenbach has built several apartment buildings downtown under the Brookside brand.

"We think it's better if you keep the capital in Columbia," Cardetti said. "It does present challenges when developers come in, build a property, instantly flip it and then take the capital back out of Columbia."

Institutional Property Advisors listed no specific asking price for the District Flats property but is simply asking for market bids.

In 2014, Opus built and sold the Nic on Fifth in downtown Minneapolis. That 253-unit, 26-story luxury apartment complex sold for more than $100 million to Boston-based AEW Capital Management, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Opus also sold two other housing complexes in Minneapolis, the Station at Washington in 2013 and Stadium Village Flats in 2012, a week after it opened, the Journal reported.

Opus has faced backlash from Columbia residents since it announced it wanted to build downtown. A citizens group formed and successfully petitioned the City Council to force the repeal of two development agreements Opus had struck with the city. Two members of that group later sued the city in both state and federal courts, alleging that the city had acted improperly and had violated their civil rights.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

  • I'm a public health and safety reporter for the Columbia Missourian. You can reach me at elizabethloutfi@mizzou.edu or give me a follow @ElizabethLoutfi.

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