Sustainability Bears Fruit for Owners and Renters in Small Apartment Communities

Posted on Feb 19 2018 - 9:16pm by Lance Edwards
For two investors, an innovative value-add strategy proves fruitful in small multifamily communities.

FreddieMac_SBL_Greenleaf_FreddieMac_Sponsored_Content_NREI_Dec_2017_0(NREI Article)  —  Dave Codrea and Josh Friedensohn, founders of Greenleaf Capital and owners of several small multifamily properties, are hoping to cultivate value for their renters and—in turn—their portfolio through a unique strategy.

The duo purchases Class C apartment buildings and add features such as picnic tables, outdoor playgrounds and raised garden beds – things that create a sense of community, promote sustainability and challenge the notion that apartment living is merely transitional.

“We aim to create communities where people can put down roots, meet their neighbors and have their kids grow up together,” said Codrea. “When you foster true community, you take away the feeling that an apartment is a temporary home.”

To that end, they began with a basic community garden with 14 raised beds and a wash station, run by community farm lead, Jamie Rosenthal. After seeing the impact on the community, they took it a step further and recently completed their first residential food forest at the Foxwood Apartments in Doraville, Georgia.

Building on permaculture principles, a food forest uses a layered design to supply a variety of nut-, fruit-, vegetable- and herb-producing trees, plants and shrubs that work in harmony with nature. The Foxwood food forest currently has 70 different varietals of produce including strawberries, tomatoes and eggplants.

Codrea and Friedensohn plan to roll out food forests in many of their other properties. As it expands, residents of all ages will have the opportunity to learn about gardening and plants, and join in the harvest. Ultimately, Greenleaf is betting that this innovative amenity will create more of a sense of home for its residents and translate into longer tenant cycles.

Greenleaf is financing many of their properties with CBRE using funding from Freddie Mac Multifamily’s Small Balance Loan program.

“With Freddie Mac and CBRE we have had speedy execution, easy and consistent reporting, and competitive products that enable us to spend more time on our business plan executions and less time worrying about debt movements,” says Friedensohn. “We choose this loan program because it provides long-term stability coupled with ease of execution, and streamlined maintenance. For our operational scale, that is extremely valuable to us.”