The Dallas-Fort Worth area has seen a rapid increase in housing costs since the pandemic, and new developments can often be out of reach for many families.
While many developers tend to opt for new housing, Ashland Greene Capital is a Dallas-based multifamily real estate investment firm focused solely on upgrading old properties across the metroplex.
According to its website, the vertically integrated firm generates over $1 billion in real estate transactions from as many as 6,100 units it owns and operates in Dallas-Fort Worth, which is one of the most competitive rental markets in Texas.
“We look for apartments that are messed up, undervalued, and not properly managed, and we go in, put in new management, which is our management,” Ashland Greene Founder and CEO Shakti C’Ganti told The Dallas Express.
“We take existing multifamily that needs an upgrade and improve existing assets that otherwise would not have been renovated,” C’Ganti said. Despite these improvements, the firm keeps rent prices low, as he went on to explain, “If you compare a Class A property that goes for $2,200 for a one-bedroom, ours are $900 to $1,000 per month even after renovating.”
Ashland Greene adds stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops, and brushed nickel hardware to its units.
“We spend around $15,000 per new unit,” C’Ganti said.
His firm can quickly upgrade the existing infrastructure by doing occupied unit turns.
“If you leave to work at 8 a.m., by 5 p.m., you come home, and you’re in like a new apartment. So for us, we’re adding a lot of value to the residents living there, and their rents are only going up $200, but they like it because they can’t find this type of product elsewhere,” he said.
Ashland Greene caters to the blue-collar workforce that is prevalent across DFW.
Of the 750,000 apartments currently found in Dallas-Fort Worth, C’Ganti explained, “Ashland Greene will own about 1% of [them] by this time next year.”
C’Ganti said that his firm does deep value rehabs to run-down properties, fixing the interior and exterior and upgrading them.
“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lend on these types of properties. They have an affordable mandate by the U.S. government, which are the properties they lend on. These are the type of properties we buy. This type of activity is in the workforce housing space. So we’re a little different than the new guy building shiny new apartments,” he explained.
Since entering the redevelopment business in 2018, the firm has bought 23 properties and operates 5,400 units, all in the DFW area. He was recently named to Dallas Business Journal’s 40 under 40 list.
C’Ganti got his start in New York City working on Wall Street. After the private equity firm he worked at ceased to exist due to a downturn, he was trying to figure out a way to survive. And while he now manages over $1 billion in real estate assets, he built himself from the ground up.
“I got my real estate license and started renting apartments to college kids, and I sucked at it, but I liked the numbers. I took this 3,000-square-foot loft, and I rented it for $5,000. I put all these temporary walls up and turned them into a six-bedroom apartment. I went to IKEA and spent 15 grand on flat pack furniture, furnished all the rooms. I started making two grand a month,” explained C’Ganti.
Once the great recession hit, he eventually purchased the entire building.
“It was valued at $1.1 million, and they slashed the price to $500,000, and I bought it,” C’Ganti said, “3-4 years later, the price comes back to a million.”
This early success prompted him to expand his real estate holdings elsewhere. He realized that he would be constrained by the rent-controlled nature of New York City apartments, which prompted him to come to the Sunbelt.
“I made some offers on properties in Dallas, and one got accepted, which I bought with investor money,” he said.
“Dallas reminded me of Orange County, where I grew up … very business-type place, and it was very affordable,” he went on to say. “I realized if I can invest here, it’s a pretty good place to live too.”
In the summer of 2019, C’Ganti and his family moved to Dallas, but seven months later, COVID-19 hit, and his properties started to decline in value.
“So we started a property management company in the middle of COVID,” he recalled. “And a construction management company, which you don’t generally do if you have only 1,500 apartments. But we had no choice and had to save our investors.”
He did precisely that.
“We turned all those properties around, exited them, and made our investors a 30% annual return on those deals,” C’Ganti said.
Since then, his firm has been buying, growing, and scaling. C’Ganti says his firm looks to buy another 10 properties this year and hopes to expand into Austin and San Antonio. His goal by 2030 is to get to 30,000 units.
Despite this desire to branch out, C’Ganti claims to prefer Dallas County as an area to invest.
“We love Dallas County as it’s our top market. [Dallas] absorbs pretty well in terms of rent increases, and property taxes are reasonable,” he said.
Ashland Greene holds properties in Johnson, Kaufman, and Tarrant counties. Although the firm has some newer properties, its sweet spot is buying older properties.
C’Ganti favors Dallas due to the market’s stability, helped by the diversification of its economy.
“Dallas isn’t overly dependent on any one sector, and it’s very diverse,” he said. “We don’t have huge run-ups as you’ve seen in Phoenix or Las Vegas. Of course, we had 22% rent growth, but we didn’t get like some places with 20-25% rent growth.”
Ashland Greene has recognized that by owning a sizable amount of real estate, it had a way to make an impact on its residents. To this end, the firm started a 501(c)(3) named Ashland Greene Impact.
“We have around 8,000 residents across our 17 communities. So it starts there. But it also is more broadly for the communities that we own in. We invite people from outside of those apartment complexes to also join in. Once every two months, we have different programming, whether resume, review, or employment services,” C’Ganti said.
The programs tend to be geared toward issues affecting the community, especially those related to education, employment, and health.
“We have partnered with Moncrief hospital to do breast cancer awareness,” C’Ganti explained. “In October, we had them bring mobile mammograms to a few of our properties. And we invited all the residents and the community we held a blood drive in another partnership. So we’re constantly looking for different programs.”
“Our typical resident only makes $35,0000 to $45,000 a year,” C’Ganti said. “So we started that way, but we have evolved to include not just our properties residents but the entire community where those properties reside.”
“We’ve got a captive audience,” he went on to say. “All these places are blue-collar communities, so there is an affordability component to the types of loans we get. And the communities we invest in, like Irving, Arlington, Forney, Garland, and Bedford, are all blue-collar communities. So the folks that would benefit the most from Ashland Greene Impact are in those communities, so it works out well.”
Great for the residents and for the communities that are being upgraded. Working to do good is always admired and appreciated!