California Dreaming: Bell Partners spent $97 million for this Pasadena property.

California Dreaming: Bell Partners spent $97 million for this Pasadena property. Photo by CoStar Group Inc.

By HANNAH MADANS Staff Reporter

Not all investors in the L.A. market are looking for ultra-luxury properties.

North Carolina-based Bell Partners Inc. has been buying up newer housing developments without top-of-the-line amenities near the city’s employment hubs. The real estate company plans to invest $100 million to $200 million in Los Angeles this year, with a focus on existing apartment buildings with 150 units or more.

Many recent apartment openings and planned developments across L.A. County offer a range of higher-end amenities, such as swimming pools, automated parking, golf simulators and dog grooming.

“Every developer is trying to one up the other,” said Nickolay Bochilo, Bell Partners’ executive vice president of investments.

Residential development is becoming a “war of amenities,” he said, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Bochilo said those kinds of developments are driving up rents. But Bell Partners is looking to invest in units that can be offered for more affordable rates.

The company made its first investment in the L.A. market in January 2018, purchasing a 264-unit property at 11622 Aviation Blvd. in Inglewood for $123 million.

Bochilo said Bell Partners chose the area because of its “healthy office market and job growth, coupled with the lack of affordable housing.”

The group followed up with a $97.3 million deal for a 212-unit property at 3330 E. Foothill Blvd. in Pasadena in April 2018. Both properties are just a few years old.

Bochilo said the group invests in multifamily properties that are less than 10 years old, avoiding retail and office properties. He added that Bell Partners targets larger properties in order to take advantage of economies of scale. “We find that unless you’re really clustering smaller (apartment) communities, it’s hard to have an efficient operation,” he said.

Once it purchases a building, Bell Partners makes improvements and then manages the properties. The group holds on to its properties for a minimum of seven years.

“We have an appetite to continue to invest in the L.A. market,” Bochilo said.

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