Built to Hold—and Behold

Gables Residential has found great success developing and managing apartment complexes in growing markets and stacking them with premium amenities

Gables Rock Springs and other Gables properties offer “extremely desirable amenities packages” that include features such as pools, fitness centers, and pet-friendly outdoor areas.
Matt Bearden is the vice president of construction for Gables Residential, which today owns property across the continental US.
Matt Bearden is the vice president of construction for Gables Residential, which today owns property across the continental US. (Photo: New York Focus)

One of the first properties Gables Residential vice president of construction Matt Bearden built when he joined the company in 2001 was Gables Rock Springs. Located near Atlanta’s Emory University, where older apartments sit surrounded by affluent neighborhoods, the project is in keeping with the company’s strategy of acquiring and constructing on land in high-growth markets.

The tactic has won the business many awards, and today it’s a vertically integrated real estate firm specializing in the development, construction, ownership, acquisition, financing, and management of multifamily and mixed-use communities in high-growth markets throughout the United States, including Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Dallas; Denver; Houston; South Florida; Southern California; and metropolitan Washington, DC. The company also has third-party management operations in markets such as New York; Charlotte, North Carolina; Phoenix; Seattle; San Antonio; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Central and North Florida.

Gables operates with a “build to hold” strategy. “I can’t emphasize enough the difference in us being the end user,” Bearden says. “We build for longevity.”

The approach involves a reliance on what Bearden refers to as “A-plus products” from reliable companies such as Whirlpool, whose appliances Gables has used in the majority of its projects for more than 10 years. It also entails the incorporation of “extremely desirable amenities packages” that include world-class fitness centers, pool areas, and outdoor spaces. Gables communities are also pet-friendly, have dog parks, and are consciously green. “With the majority of our properties, we obtain green certification at multiple levels,” Bearden says.

Gables Rock Springs (opposite page) offers lofts, town homes, and garden apartments. Its design was informed by input from community representatives.
Gables Rock Springs offers lofts, town homes, and garden apartments. Its design was informed by input from community representatives.

For Gables Rock Springs, Bearden and his development team began planning the upscale apartment community by meeting with neighborhood representatives and getting their input. Then, they worked closely with an architect to develop a new residential complex that would blend with the area’s aesthetic. “We drove around and looked closely at the detailing of the existing housing and buildings in the area,” Bearden says. 

The company already owned a 30- to 40-year-old property in the area called Rock Springs, which it had been managing for two years, but it de-leased and demolished it to build its new development. The finished product now includes lofts, garden apartments, and town homes, and it reflects Gables’ efforts toward seamless integration. “After all was said and done, the neighbors thanked us,” Bearden says. “Gables Rock Springs, which really tells the story of what we do, is the epitome of owner and developer working closely with the neighbors to create a community that enhances the surrounding area.”

Gables Emory Point

Gables Emory Point is a vertically integrated mixed-use community located on the campus of Emory University. A joint venture with Cousins Properties, it features 443 luxury apartments, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a saline pool, a bike-sharing program, and 80,000 square feet of retail space, including a mix of restaurants and boutique shops.

Gables Emory Point is an EarthCraft-certified community and won the EarthCraft Award of Environmental Excellence in 2012. And, the complex’s second phase will incorporate an Earth Fare, an organic supermarket, that will occupy 25,000 square feet of retail space.

Gables Ponce

Part of the Gables Residential strategy is to acquire properties in established premium neighborhoods. Gables Ponce, located in the southwest Miami suburb of Coral Gables, is one example. The mixed-use, 367-apartment luxury residence, located on the renowned Ponce de Leon Boulevard, just south of the high-end shopping and entertainment center Merrick Park, is within walking distance of the University of Miami and various local amenities.

The property’s units feature granite kitchen countertops, custom tile flooring in the main living areas, Energy Star appliances, and stunning views of the city. And, the building also has a club-style fitness center, exceptional landscaping, marble finishes, chandeliers in the foyer, a spa, and a resort-style pool area with private cabanas.

Gables purchased the site, once occupied by a gas station, in 2010. It then built Gables Ponce in two phases, and the complex currently has an occupancy rate of more than 90 percent. The project received the Florida Green Building Coalition’s Green Achievement Award in 2013, and a third phase is now in the works that will involve construction on another Gables-owned parcel of land directly across the street from the existing community.