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Zach Tran, Hal Kern find "right" formula with Diamondback Investment Group - via Triad Business Journal

July 16, 2019

One was the leader of a group that paid $38.4 million. The other was the developer who was paid that money.

 

Ironically, negotiations over the sale of Retreat at the Park apartments in Burlington, which closed last August, helped cement the leadership of a residential real estate investment group making an impact throughout the Triad and the state. Especially in Burlington.

 

Zach Tran, the developer of Retreat at the Park, and Hal Kern, who led the purchasing group, since have worked together on apartments and single-family developments as Diamondback Investment Group LLC, which Tran started in 2016.

 

"We found we have very similar goals and values," said Tran, who worked with Blue Ridge Cos., before going on out his own about a decade ago in the midst of the real estate recession.

 

This month, Triad Business Journal has reported that Diamondback had secured loans to develop "Wesley Point," a 112-acre, upscale community in Browns Summit, and Huffman Point, a 49-acre community in Burlington. Trez Forman Capital Group, a Florida-based financier, has provided a combined $26.8 million for the two single-family projects.

 

Kern, also managing partner at Sunchase Multi-Housing Partners, held prior management positions in multifamily housing with Marcus & Millichap (NYSE: MMI) and CBRE (NYSE: CBRE) Triad.

 

Diamondback has two apartment projects, Burlington St. Marks, a 183-unit community just north of Interstate 40 and Alamance Crossing, and The Point at Caldwell Station in Huntersville, under construction. Tran told TBJ will soon break ground to develop single-family lots for a national builder in Kernersville. Tran said

 

Diamondback now has $120 million in committed work.

"We're in a rising market, work with great talent and have great partners," said Tran. "We've been at the right place, at the right time and with the right talent."

 

Diamondback has put together a tight, trusted team. The group has a "strike price" in each development at which it would consider a sale, according to Tran.

 

Fixed Point Homes, a company owned by Tran, Kern and Paul Holst, builds single-family developments with

 

Matt Quint the general manager. Tran said he expects RKW Properties of Charlotte, which has generated 98 percent occupancy at Retreat at the Park with rents ranging from $911 for the least expensive one-bedroom unit to more than $1,400 for a three-bedroom unit, to manage "95 percent" of Diamondback's multifamily communities. Lisa Flynt Tran, who owns eXp Realty affiliate Z Real Estate Group, is marketing Wesley Point. 

 

Then there's the financing side. Tran said Diamondback has formed a strong bond with Trez Forman, beginning with a $42 million loan for the 297-unit Caldwell Station community last year. Tran said Trez Forman, the combination of groups in Florida and Canada, looked at the asset, assessed his ability and provided a loan -- as long as he put together a solid team.

 

Tran said Trez Capital, the Canadian side of the lender, is particularly "bullish" on investments in North Carolina. Brett Forman's Florida-based Forman Capital, the other portion of the financing team, specializes in finding assets.Diamondback now has almost 20 employees.

 

Tran said he expects the number to grow to between 30 and 40 in the next 18 months.

 

"When I was looking for financing for Caldwell Station, I wasn't a guy a lot of lenders were interested in," Tran said. "They (Trez Forman leaders) believed in our projects. People know when we get a contract, we will close."

 

Tran said the momentum continues to build. He said Diamondback was currently in negotiations for Triad tracts totaling 1,100 acres. All told, he said Diamondback had 1,765 acres under contract that would yield 5,700 lots. Tran said those lots included projects planned in the Triangle and metro Charlotte, including a 240-apartment community in Mount Holly that he expects to close by the end of the summer.

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