E ffective use of technology is part of the operational backbone

Document Sample
E ffective use of technology is part of the operational backbone Powered By Docstoc
					Spring/Summer 2002

Information Systems Administration and Project Management



ffective use of technology is part of the operational backbone of any successful organization. Steven D. Bell & Company’s commitment to providing resources for the company’s continuing growth is evident in many ways. What started as a few computers in the mid 1980’s has become a complex system of servers, networking, and data applications. The staff responsible for this operations system may be familiar to you. If you have ever called the home office for technical support or attended one of the training classes, you have talked to or met Liz Brescka. Liz’s primary responsibility is for computer application training and hardware/software support. With more than 200 company PC’s in service and new faces every day, Liz has become a vital addition to Bell’s Information Systems staff. A face you may not know is Nickolay Bochilo. He came to us as an intern from Greensboro College one year ago, and he has been an invaluable addition to our staff. He helps us with various hardware and software rollouts, product research, and new system preparation. In addition to direct projects in the IS Department, he continues to assist other departments with large projects needing technical input. Our newest Information Systems staff addition is Bobby Smith. He has worked for several years as a consultant on our payroll software system. As a permanent member of the Bell team, his main responsibilities are all things associated with the AS/400 accounting system. He adds a technical level that will help us further build on the cross-platform tools we have worked to develop over the past two years. Michele Stewart continues to plan hardware installations and upgrades, new software implementation, and home office network applications. She also oversees third-party vendor relationships and the development of new software applications. Technology has never played a more crucial role at Steven D. Bell & Company than it does today. It is a continually evolving system of tools that has forever changed our corporate culture. Bell is pleased to have a strong and diverse staff dedicated to technology development and training as a key element to Steven D. Bell & Company’s continued success. ■

Message from the Chairman


Steven D. Bell, CEO

ver the years, I realize more and more that good communication is an essential part of our success. We seem to have minimal problems or misunderstandings with our 300+ investors or our 500+ employees because we are usually upfront with expectations. Our recently updated apartment manual spells out how we handle most on-site problems and issues. Our employee benefits booklet describes in detail our obligations and benefits. The Bell Carousel and Bell e-news let our owners and employees know what is going on at the company. Annual and quarterly reports/letters provide detailed financial information.

If you think about it, we communicate more frequently with our clients and employees than most companies in our peer group. We like sharing information and believe our employees and clients will make better and faster decisions in the long run because of our information flow. We also need our investors’ input, and with so much demand for investment property over the last two to three years, we may not know of an investor’s desire to purchase partial interest in our next property unless he/she calls us. Our typical individual cash investment is $100,000-$400,000. We expect to purchase only three to four more large properties this year. While we send out lots of real estate-related materials, we also seek information from our apartment residents and retail tenants. For example, we hope to build a new 96-unit second phase at one of our existing properties. We sent a questionnaire to the Phase I residents seeking their thoughts and suggestions. The responses revealed that ceiling fans, nine-foot ceilings, storage space, computer desks, and more two-bedroom units with patios are important. They also want quieter HVAC systems. Most residents like living with us and expect to renew their leases. I have learned over a 30-year career in investment real estate that you can learn a lot about a potential acquisition by asking the existing residents or retail customers their thoughts about the location, quality of construction, proposed new competition, amenities, etc. Computers are great, but face-to-face questions, site visits, and personal relationships will remain an important part of our due diligence and thought process at Steven D. Bell & Company going forward. Enjoy this issue of the Bell Carousel. Our people work hard to keep you informed. ■


Mail Box
► “Thank you for being so professional and kind since we moved in. We have truly enjoyed our apartment and the sense of community found in this complex (Ashley Forest, Alpharetta, GA). We have been impressed with your quickness in addressing maintenance requests and your genuineness when we visit the front office. Your smiles and friendly ‘hellos’ always make us remember how grateful we are to have found a community like this one.” ► “I have enjoyed this community (Bradford Place, Warner Robins, GA) so much for 2 ½ years. My son is relocating to Douglasville and, upon my recommendation, is moving into Home Ridge, another of your Steven D. Bell & Company communities. Keep up the good work.” ► “This letter of appreciation is for the incredible service you provide the residents of Alta Mill (Austell, GA). I have lived in many apartment homes and have never come across someone as caring and attentive. Your understanding staff can only be a direct result of the kind of management you provide.” ► From a client/property owner to Steve Bell, “Thank you for including me in some of your properties. At this point, it’s amazing to me that (1) I’m in a bunch of them and (2) all-in-all, they have done so well. Thank you for your tremendously hard work, as well as all of your employees’. I know this doesn’t happen by just one or two people’s efforts – it’s the whole team, and you guys have seemed to build a great team.” ► “The staff at our complex (Northtowne Village Apartments, Hixson, TN) could not be better. They are so helpful and honest. You should be proud to have them supervising your property.” ► “I would like to thank the management (West Park Club Apartments, Athens, GA) for quick and responsive attention to the needs of the tenants. Moreover, I write to praise Steve (Kalinski), the maintenance manager, for his diligent upkeep of our unit. I have found Steve to be not only extremely pleasant but also highly professional. This kind of dedication and attention is increasingly rare in these times and should be recognized when encountered.” ►“When I decided to move to the Woodstock/ Roswell (Georgia) area, I chose Alta Woods because … The whole Alta Woods, Steven D. Bell, and Wood Partners management staff is extremely professional and caring about their residents and the community around them. The apartments are run with the utmost attention to detail. They have more amenities to choose from than any subdivision has to offer their homeowners. All the grounds are kept in tip-top shape and are always clean. The Alta Woods apartment community is a very safe place to live, and I am extremely proud to call it my home.” ► “I absolutely LOVE my new apartment and know I will truly feel at home here. Everything I have asked for has been handled both professionally and in a timely manner. Thank you for making TownPark Crossing (Kennesaw, GA) such an inviting new home. ■

In the news …
Northwood Apartment Homes, Macon, GA, was awarded the Keep Macon/Bibb Beautiful Commission’s Clean Annual Apartment Award in March. The mayor presented Karen Strout (general manager for the Macon area) with the award. Congratulations to Karen and her team at Northwood Apartments! Steven D. Bell & Company was selected as one of “The 50 Fastest Growing Private Companies in the Triad,” a contest designed by The Business Journal (Greensboro, NC). Steve Bell personally accepted the award on behalf of the company at a banquet held to honor the top 50 companies. West Park Club Apartments (Athens, GA) won first place in the Athens Apartment Association's annual toy drive. They collected toys and donated "filled Christmas trees" for 18 kids who would have had nothing at all. The kids were Athens children whose parents were terminally ill and could not support their families. Steven D. Bell & Company donated 13 outdated computers to “Operation Belarus.” Part-time student and Company employee Nickolay Bochilo (Page 1), collected computers for his home country’s computerless classrooms. He upgraded the memories on the computers that were sent to Russia. Nickolay designed the project through “Students in Free Enterprise,” a college campus business club. The project will show students how to use computers in both schools and businesses. ■


Multifamily Division

By Ray Barrows, Senior Vice President, Multifamily Division


uring the winter, we experienced some of the toughest markets that we have encountered in a number of years. Our multifamily management team stepped up to the challenge, and I am pleased to report that the majority of our properties are achieving higher rental rates than their competitors and are increasing operating income. One reason we have been successful in the face of adversity is our training efforts. In 2001, Steven D. Bell and Company expanded its training by developing a full curriculum of internal classes. Director of Training Vicki Smith, who joined us last summer, put this effort together. We started by offering classes on leasing, operations, and fair housing. Every associate, no matter their tenure with the company, was required to take these basic courses to ensure our onsite teams have the same core knowledge level. In the winter, we expanded our training to include advanced leasing and Internet marketing. Many properties receive a large share of their leads from Internet advertising, and it is important that our onsite teams know how to utilize this important advertising tool. The result has been nothing short of phenomenal. Many associates see this training as advancement in their careers, giving them new skills to compete in this industry. Fannie Thomas (our Rent Roll trainer) and Liz Brescka (our software and computer trainer) have also done an excellent job in developing classes. We are proud of the training team’s efforts! In March, our winter training efforts culminated at our annual meeting in Greensboro. All community managers and maintenance supervisors attended the event. The home office’s Vicki Smith, Karen McCray, Tamara Hayes, and Monica Lane arranged a great conference with an excellent agenda of speakers and seminars. Our community managers focused on new marketing ideas, finance and leasing, while our maintenance supervisors received training in maintenance management, pool operations, and recruiting. This event also included our annual awards banquet where we honored our Bell Achievers, Manager of the Year, Maintenance Supervisor of the Year, and Regional Manager of the Year (page 5). It was a great event to start the spring leasing season.

Even in this economic slowdown, our organization continues to grow due to the expansion of our portfolio! ►Kelli Stiehl joined us in the fall as a regional manager in our Atlanta office. Kelli was formerly with Worthing Southeast in Atlanta. She is overseeing properties in Atlanta and will also be working with the Reserve at Oak Hill, our new property in Fort Worth (highlighted in this issue). ►Megan Kee joined our team in March as the new regional manager for western North Carolina and South Carolina. Megan was previously with Summit Properties in Charlotte and will continue to office in Charlotte. ►In October, Karen McCray joined us as an executive assistant. Karen was formerly with Winston Hotels in Raleigh. Karen is responsible for the administrative supervision of our growing division and for reporting to investors. ►Previously with Archstone Communities in Raleigh, Tamara Hayes came on board in the Greensboro office in October as the operations analyst for our division. In this newly created position, Tamara is focusing on operations projects and reporting for the division. As we continue to grow, Tamara is ensuring that we have the best systems and practices in place. Along with the purchase of the Reserve at Oak Hill in Fort Worth in March, we also closed in February on Alta Sterling in Richmond, Virginia. This issue of the Bell Carousel features both properties. Our goal is to acquire more properties in Texas and Virginia over the next 12 months. As we head into the summer, our focus will continue to be on running our existing properties at optimum levels. It was a tough winter, but we feel we have performed well and expect further progress as we head into the warmer months! ■


Multifamily Division APARTMENTS

2002 Awards



MANAGER OF THE YEAR AMY BAKER Walker’s Crossing Knoxville, Tennessee



Terry Babcock Galleria Park Warner Robins, GA

Sonja Bryant Woodland Crossing New Bern, NC

Becky Carter Lake St. James Conyers, GA

Charles English Cameron on the Summit Birmingham, AL

Jerry Fowler Lake St. James Conyers, GA

Pam Huggins Southwinds Spring Lake, NC

Rick McCloskey Battleground Oaks Greensboro, NC

Jamie Miles West Park Club Athens, GA

Stephen Staunton Walker’s Crossing Knoxville, TN

B.J. Wilkinson Audubon Park Hanahan, SC


Design Division
By Suzanne Tilley, Director of Design


he Design Department has tackled some interesting and challenging projects over the last several months. The clubhouse at Walker’s Crossing Apartments (Knoxville) had two opposing fireplaces that were overpowering. One fireplace was eliminated, which afforded more space in the main room and allowed us to build two smaller offices for leasing and closing. The bonus of this arrangement was a cozy spot in front of a window for a comfortable chair for reading or enjoying a cup of coffee.

One of the biggest challenges we faced recently was the clubhouse at Wyndchase (Nashville). The exterior of the building was very traditional, but the interior was decorated in a contemporary Southwestern style. While the look was bright and cheerful, it was not consistent with the style of the building or the company’s image. The fireplace, one of the main focal points, was asymmetrical in design, and the colors of the clubhouse were bright yellow, aqua and orange-red. Using local contractors, the fireplace was transformed into a more traditional focal point with a mantle and built-in shelving. Our faux painter, Lisa Cox, made the trip to Tennessee and added her touch to soften the yellow walls.

Wyndchase Bellevue (before)

Wyndchase Bellevue (after)

The clubhouse and model apartment décor at our recently acquired Standifer Place Apartments (Chattanooga) has just been completed. These spaces now have a fresh new look with a color palette that should stay current for years. The Design Department was also involved in setting up six corporate apartments at Alta Gate in Orlando, Florida. Alta Gate is located at Champions Gate, home of the world-famous David Leadbetter Golf Academy. These corporate apartments are already in demand by students enrolled in the golf program. We are currently working on the model at Walker’s Crossing Apartments to give it a fresh look on a limited budget, and we are looking at the clubhouse and model at Northtowne Village in Hixson, Tennessee, and hope to get started there soon. ■


Commercial Division SHOPPING CENTERS

By Matt Schaefer, Vice President

Park Place Shopping Center was purchased in January 2002 by a joint venture comprised of a Steven D. Bell & Company sponsored partnership and the Sembler Company of St. Petersburg, Florida. Built in 1979, this property currently contains over 67,000 square feet of retail space occupied by better tenants like Talbots, Houlihan’s and McKendrick’s Steakhouse. Situated on 18 acres in the much-desired Perimeter Mall area (a complex of nearly 3 million square feet), this site will be further developed beginning with the formulation and analysis of different strategies to best achieve the maximum value of the investment. These plans include additional retail space and a possible new highrise residential apartment complex, or a combination of both. This partnership is the first, both with the Sembler Company and in the Atlanta retail market for Steven D. Bell & Company, continuing the Company’s long-term strategy of moving into larger markets with the purchase of high performing retail properties. ■ MEN’S WEARHOUSE PLAZA

Madison (Nashville), Tennessee

RECENT LEASES SIGNED CAROLINA EAST MALL, GREENVILLE, NC One Stop Cellular, 1,491 sf, 3-year lease MCCARTHY CROSSING SHOPPING CENTER, NEW BERN, NC Cash Advance, 1,400 sf, 3-year renewal PARKWOOD MALL, WILSON, NC Plej’s Linen Supermarket, 11,750 sf (former Eckerd Drug space lease assumption)


urchased in early December 2001, Men’s Wearhouse Plaza is a neighborhood retail building consisting of 7,281 square feet. It is located in Madison, Tennessee, one of the major regional shopping areas in metropolitan Nashville. Men’s Wearhouse occupies 5,000 square feet, and VoiceStream Wireless occupies the remaining 2,281 square feet. There is also a Union Planter’s ATM at the center. ■

Movie Gallery, 6,000 sf 5-year lease One Stop Cellular, 747 sf, 3-year lease VILLAGE AT CEDAR SHOALS, ATHENS, GA Ultimate Tan, 1,200 sf, 1-year extension ?


Senior Living
By Michael Bateman, President, Senior Living Services, Inc.


e’re off to a great start in 2002 with each Homeplace community completing a strong first quarter, setting up the potential for our best year ever in the midst of highly competitive and overbuilt markets throughout the assisted living industry all over the country.

OF NEW BERN (New Bern, North Carolina) celebrated its first anniversary in April with an open house. The turnout was great, and the positive feedback from our residents, family members, and the public was a true testament of how this facility has positioned itself as the community of choice in New Bern. What distinguishes Homeplace of New Bern from their competitors? The answer is simple – the employees, including all departments, work effectively as a team. Each employee’s dedication, stability, and caring attitude are communicated directly to the residents and family members, and the residents and family members are our best advertisement. This community has had a successful first year and is currently operating at 80% occupancy with additional move-ins scheduled soon. Due to our growing success in the New Bern market, we are considering adding approximately 40 independent living apartments to the campus. Independent living is the fastest growing segment in the senior housing market today. Independent living residents need no assistance with daily activities (eating, toileting, bathing, dressing, ambulating). Typically, the average age of an independent living resident is 77 years old as compared to 83 years old in an assisted living facility. Couples generally make up around 60% of the occupancy, and the average length of stay in an independent living community is 8-10 years as compared to 3 years in an assisted living community. The City of New Bern has a very limited supply of quality independent living facilities, and the addition of an adjacent independent living component would provide a feeder source to our existing assisted living facility and enhance the marketability of the community. In our second year of operation, Homeplace of New Bern looks forward to perfecting the services provided to our residents, staying ahead of our competitors, and reaching full occupancy.


HOMEPLACE OF BURLINGTON (Burlington, North Carolina) has started the year with great momentum at its highest occupancy levels in more than two years. Back in the fall, the dedicated Alzheimer’s unit, “Homeplace Terrace,” was reconfigured to better serve the needs and dignity of residents. Higher functioning residents were separated from the residents with more advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. This change has made the “Terrace” more resident-friendly and has improved the marketability of the unit. Currently, we are operating at 90% occupancy in a saturated Alzheimer’s market as our competitors struggle throughout Alamance County. After three years, we are still the facility of choice in the area because of the hard work, dedication and commitment of the staff. We look forward to our best year ever in 2002.
OF DURHAM (Durham, North Carolina), our first senior living community, completed a positive year of operations in 2001 with occupancy levels for the year at 94%. In March, after a yearlong process, we refinanced Homeplace of Durham through HUD, providing good long-term, non-recourse debt for the facility and the owners. We will be making several improvements over the next several months, which will continue to improve the marketability of the community. We look forward to sustained improvement at the community as we continue our efforts to improve the resident mix with additional private-paying residents. Thanks to all the employees at Homeplace of Durham for their commitment to turning the community around over the last year. In summary, we look forward to a solid year in spite of the challenges currently facing our industry. Our measured growth and commitment to ensuring that our properties operate at maximum efficiency and deliver the highest quality of care will be the keys to our continued success. ■



Community Association Division
By Terry Slatter, Vice President


pring is one of the best times of the year. Warmer days with cheerful spring flowers and fresh new leaves on the trees helps us start the planned refurbishment, painting and vinyl siding programs at our townhome and condominium homeowner associations.

We are the leader in our field in the Triad, and our continued aim is to improve the quality of the service we provide. To do this requires constant attention. We streamline procedures, thus saving valuable time, and research improved programs, which help both our clients and ourselves conduct business more speedily and accurately. The Internet and the community association’s section in the Steven D. Bell & Company web page ( provides the association membership with an easier method to report maintenance needs and check any accounting question they may have. We know that the convenience we offer in this area is helpful to our homeowners. We welcome Jacqueline Peatross to our division. Jacqueline joins us as an administrative assistant and brings with her many years of experience in multifamily management. Our maintenance personnel has increased to four with the inclusion of Rick Brunes, an experienced painter, who joins us from Fountain Manor, one of our larger condominium properties. We welcome him as a valuable addition to an important area of our operation. ■


Sales and Acquisitions
By Ed Harrington, President

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – In late February, Steven D. Bell & Company acted as an advisor for the acquisition and financing of Alta Sterling Apartments in Richmond, Virginia. The purchaser, CSC Associates III/Wisely Properties, LLC, is a family-owned group of companies that Steven D. Bell & Company has represented in real estate transactions over the past five years. In its role as an advisor, Bell negotiated the price with the seller and purchaser and, ultimately, negotiated the mortgage loan through Laureate Capital and Freddie Mac. Steven D. Bell & Company will be the property manager for Alta Sterling.

Alta Sterling Staff: Front row, left to right: Ruben Gonzalez – Painter Kristi Agnolucci – Leasing Consultant Tonya Wright – Assistant Manager Brad Lahocki – Service Manager Back row, left to right: Stephany Halligan – Leasing Consultant Michelle Arnold, Community Manager Adrian Branch, Maintenance Assistant

The 300-unit Alta Sterling community has a good mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. This property is located in the growing southwest Richmond area and is in the Hampton Park planned unit development that fronts on Highway 360. The exterior construction is heavy brick veneer, hardiplank siding, and decorative wood trim surrounding all windows, chimneys and doors. The individual units have nine-foot ceilings (vaulted ceilings on the third floor), ceiling fans, built-in bookshelves, counter-mounted televisions in all kitchens, and full-size washer and dryer connections. Alta Sterling residents enjoy a large clubhouse with a fitness center featuring a “cardio-theatre” system and a business center equipped with a computer, printer, fax, and copier. This lovely community also has a large swimming pool, lighted tennis court, two-bay carwash with vacuum, and laundry facilities. Residents can rent one of the 78 detached parking garages. ■


Sales and Acquisitions

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – In early March, a limited partnership (sponsored by Steven D. Bell & Company) purchased the 360-unit Reserve at Oak Hill community. These apartments are located in the Stonegate area (a popular, well-established, low-density residential area) about five miles southwest of Fort Worth’s central business district. Just northeast of the property is the Colonial Country Club and Texas Christian University. This is the first Bell acquisition outside of the southeast United States. Bell, with the help of L. J. Melody & Company, arranged a long-term mortgage arranged through New York Life Insurance.

Reserve at Oak Hill Staff: From left to right: John Zegeme – make ready Eric Wilford – assistant maintenance manager Cindi Laws – leasing Lauri Michener – assistant manager Kathleen Ball – manager Pete Soto – maintenance supervisor Ismael Chiprez – porter

Developed on more than 27 acres, the Reserve at Oak Hill has an excellent mix of one-, two-, threeand four-bedroom units. The exterior is built of stucco, brick, and hardiplank, which gives the community a feeling of stability and lowers long-term maintenance. Within the group of apartment units, there are 24 two-story, single-family homes for future added property value. The Reserve at Oak Hill has a long list of amenities including 66 detached garage spaces and 132 units with attached garages. Residents enjoy the resort-style swimming pool, jogging trail, fitness center, business center (equipped with computer, printer, fax machine, and copier), a media room and theatre, game room with billiards table, limited access gates, picnic barbeque grills, etc. ■ PERSISTENCE AND PATIENCE PAYS OFF After 12 months of pursuing Lincoln Crest, a 264-unit apartment community in metro Atlanta, the property was acquired by Berwind Property Group in late February. Since selling the Bell 12-property portfolio last year to Berwind, the sales division has worked diligently to expand this relationship by helping Berwind identify and underwrite other similar assets. In addition to Lincoln Crest, David Bell also helped them close on The Waterford at Lithia Springs in Douglasville in late March. Both properties, with a collective value of $33.7 million, had been under contract with several other buyers over the course of a year and were unable to close for various reasons. Persistence and sound underwriting kept our offers in front of the sellers through the entire process. Going forward, David Bell and the sales division will continue to work with Berwind in identifying other properties to acquire. ■


Teresa Babcock, Property Manager Galleria Apartments, Warner Robins, GA “My time with the Bell Team has been both challenging and rewarding. The continuing education has helped me to be a successful manager for more than 16 years. I would like to thank the Bell team for helping me make this happen.”

Revonda Brady, Receptionist, Greensboro, NC: “I have enjoyed my first five years with Steven D. Bell & Company. It seems like only yesterday that I accepted a temporary position as receptionist, spent one year in the shopping center division, then accepted the permanent receptionist position. I enjoy meeting and getting to know everyone in the company, and I value all the friends that I have made. Thanks, Mr. Bell, for a great place to work, a beautiful working environment, and I look forward to the next five years.” Harry “Gus” Burdick, Maintenance, Southwinds Apartments, Spring Lake, NC: “I’ve enjoyed my time with Steven D. Bell and Company. There has never been a dull moment.” Marilyn Duel, Accounting, Greensboro, NC: “My co-workers are a wonderful group of people, and I’m proud to be part of such a hardworking team. I’ve seen a lot of growth and changes during the past five years. The constant changes to stay competitive and the company’s ability to utilize the information processing technology of today contribute to its success. I look forward to the future and whatever it may bring.” Susan Gore, Leasing, Grande Oaks, Roswell, GA: “I have worked at six Bell properties as either manager or assistant manager. Love the company and feel they are like family.”

Carlos Guira, Mall Manager, Osceola Mall, Kissimmee, FL: “The last five years have been an interesting and challenging learning experience. Steven D. Bell & Company has allowed me the opportunity to expand my horizons, increase knowledge of the shopping center business, and earn the CSM (Certified Shopping Center Manager) designation. Thank you.” Richard McCloskey, Maintenance, Battleground Oaks, Greensboro, NC: “In the five years of working with Steven D. Bell & Company, I have enjoyed my job and meeting new people. Additionally, I have enjoyed working side by side with my manager to ensure that Battleground Oaks is the best apartment community to live at.” ■

12 Steven D. Bell & Company, 823 North Elm Street, Greensboro, NC 27401 Phone 336-272-7196, Fax 336-378-9705,

Shared By: