Opened in Oct. 2020, NorthStar Georgetown is the first active adult community for developer Chalk Hill Ventures — and it will not be the last.
“I think there’s a lot more room to run than maybe people realize,” Chalk Hill Founder and President Langford Stuber told Senior Housing News, referring to active adult rental communities.
Chalk Hill’s strategy is to develop conventional multifamily and active adult communities in Texas, with a particular focus on the Dallas/Fort Worth market and the Austin-San Antonio corridor. Currently, the firm has about five projects in the pipeline, including a mixed-use development that will include both active adult and multifamily.
The active adult rental market is still in its early stages, meaning there are plentiful opportunities for first movers like Chalk Hill, Stuber believes. And he sees obstacles to active adult development — notably difficulty in obtaining capital — receding as investors and banks learn more about the product.
Filling a niche
Stuber began his career in electrical engineering before switching to the capital side of real estate, including doing a five-year stint with Bank of the Ozarks. His goal was to become a developer by leveraging his past experiences — “on the ground, wearing a hard hat, and then working on the financing of projects and really understanding how to put a deal together.”
The specific focus on active adult came about somewhat through happenstance. Mark Walker — a family friend, whose father founded Walker Engineering — had been involved in one of the first active adult rental projects in Texas, built outside of Houston in 2015. That project was so successful, Walker began seeking out further opportunities and turned to Stuber for help.
“I had no intention, at that point, starting my own shop and co-developing a project with him,” Stuber said.
But, they looked at about a dozen sites and ultimately determined that Georgetown, with one of the largest concentrations of retirees in the nation, was the right location. In 2019, Stuber formed Chalk Hill Ventures and brought on board Justin Walker, another Bank of the Ozarks alum.
Needless to say, Stuber did not anticipate a global pandemic when planning the Georgetown active adult project and founding Chalk Hill.
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“When Covid hit and we were mid-construction, we thought, oh no, what are we going to do?” he said.
The pandemic curtailed the high-touch marketing strategy, which called for interfacing closely with local institutions such as local churches. And, Stuber feared that the pandemic would make older adults view communal living less favorably.
Lease-up was difficult at first but quickly gained steam. The project started the year at 4% occupancy but was 37% leased as of late May, right on pro forma and exceeding…