Hines founded Willowick Residential, an apartment building management company.
The new real estate management company will partner with Hines' growing multi-family portfolio of 63 projects in 38 US cities, including luxury towers, urban mid-range houses and traditional garden-style apartments. Nine properties are currently under management in the US, with more in preparation. It is expected to manage 10,000 units over the next two years.
Willowick will provide acquisition services, advisory services, engineering and maintenance, team member recruitment and development, leasing and transition services, marketing and communications, reputation management, market analysis and research, supplier compliance and information technology. The company is named after founder Gerald D. Hines' first apartment building in the River Oaks area of Houston.
Lisa Newton, senior vice president of Multifamily Operations at Hines, says knowing the company's assets as the developer puts it in a better position than a third-party manager to create value.
"We know our fortunes better than anyone," Newton told GlobeSt.com. "The ability to add value from something you own and know from start to finish is only greater when you have that ownership mentality."
Initially, Hines is not targeting third-party management, but is open to future opportunities.
"We want to focus on our own projects," says Newton. "I think we're going to get into third-party management, probably organically by keeping management." We have received some inquiries from certain partners in recent years as to whether we will do this [management] and when we would be ready. But that's not the focus today. "
While Hines ramped up housing construction in 2012, the company initially did not have the size and structure of its own management. But it was always a topic of discussion.
"We were more in a trading structure and shifted to a more strategic, longer-term strategy as we evolved," says Newton. "As we started to get more developments out of the ground and have more scalability in our Southwest region and in our Midwest region, we decided to bring this [management] into the house."
The company originally wanted its property management business to be national by the end of 2020, but COVID prevented those plans and posed challenges for staffing.
"The onboarding process is different," says Newton. “I have 35 employees on-site, most of whom I haven't met in person. While we've received so many Zoom calls, forget you haven't met them in person before. We've been really lucky with our teams before Stop at the [ownership] transfers [to Willowick] that we made. "
While Hines announced the formation of Willowick this week, the company launched the company earlier this year. "We just wanted some of our partners to hear from us first, rather than through an announcement in a press release," says Newton, explaining the gap between the start-up of Willowick and the announcement. “We also had to make some improvements to our publicly available materials. We have started a new website. "