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University Heights project nearly complete

Union Leader Correspondent

July 26. 2013 7:54PM
The newly constructed University Heights clubhouse allowed the property managers to move out of the trailer they were initially doing business out of. With only two residential buildings left to build, the project is nearing completion. (COURTESY)

HOOKSETT — As construction of the 204-unit University Heights apartment complex nears completion, developers of the $20 million development expect it to be fully rented within six months.

Despite economic conditions over the last few years that have rendered the housing market occasionally stagnant, co-owner John Halvorsen said the market for rental properties has remained strong.

“It’s always a risk when you undertake a project like this, but there seems to be strong demand for rental properties, and we did a lot of reconfiguring of the project, making more one-bedroom units to make it more affordable,” Halvorsen said.

With only two residential units left under construction and seven already built, Sharon Breigner of CPManagement of Exeter, which is managing the 15 Princeton Drive property for the owners, SMC Management Corp. of Boston, said University Heights is nearly 50 percent full. The complex is about five miles from Southern New Hampshire University.

“We don’t look at the economy as difficult now. Everyone needs a home, and this is one of the newest places in the area, and it has been very well received,” Breigner said.

Breigner said the project is good for the local economy.

“Certainly it is an indication that Hooksett is a desirable place to live. It provides workforce housing for people starting out that might have a hard time finding affordable places, which is a good thing. And it adds to the types of housing that are available in town, and that is always good,” Hooksett Town Administrator Dean Shankle said.

However, Halvorsen said it might be years before he and his partners know if they have a profitable venture on their hands.

“It takes several years to get a foothold of what your values, like rental streams, are. Right now a lot of it is projections, though so far they are materializing,” Halvorsen said.

Halvorsen, who said he and his partners purchased the project and its land nearly two years ago, added that Hooksett was an easy town to work with.

“When we had to make changes and reconfigure the project, they were right along with us every step of the way,” Halvorsen said.

However, he said he is paying more taxes on the property than he would like.

Under construction for nearly a year, Breigner said the plan is for all construction to be completed by September. Calling the apartments a marriage of affordability and quality, Halvorsen said he has been pleased by the reactions of new tenants.

“I am comfortable with where the market and economy has been for a project like this, which has been good for rental properties. The market is asking for affordability and quality, and that is what we have tried to do here,” Halvorsen said.

While most of the units are one bedroom, Breigner said it is a misconception that they are targeting university students as tenants. “We are more looking for young professionals,” she said.

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