Southwest Properties Ltd.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Apartment/condominium owner operator
Primary markets: Canada, United States
Number of employees: 130
Chairman: Jim Spatz
The rent collection business
The US real estate market has been in a terrible downturn during the past few years. Average residential housing prices have fallen by 30 percent, more in formerly hot areas. So you’d think that the smart money would be bursting for the exits. Not Southwest Properties. “We are always on the lookout for underperforming assets,” says Jim Spatz, the company’s chairman. “So when the Florida condominium market went sour in 2008, we decided to take a look.” Southwest Properties ended up picking up close to 600 units, which today are 97 percent leased and cash-flow positive.
Going against the grain comes naturally to Spatz, whose father Simon founded and ran a grocery business, from which Southwest Apartments, (as the company was then known) spun off. However Jim Spatz preferred to set out on his own, studying and then practicing medicine for many years before joining the family business. Today Southwest Properties operates more than 1,250 apartments and condominiums, including Bishop’s Landing, a mixed-use multi-unit development on Halifax’s waterfront. It also holds 50 percent stake in Premier Executives Suites, as well as interests in the wine, hotels and office space industries.
Spatz attributes Southwest Properties’ success to its ability to purchase, develop and operate attractive living spaces where people want to live. “Location, location and location” are the three traditional keys to real estate success he admits. “If you make a good initial purchase or development decision, everything else becomes a lot easier.”
If he’s right, the company’s win of a recent bid to purchase and develop a 63-acre piece of land formerly owned by the Sisters of Charity in Halifax, will provide a major opportunity during coming years. The company plans to develop the property by building up to 1,500 apartments, condos, single family homes and associated commercial facilities.
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