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Former Ares, Apollo Exec Launches CRE Investment Firm, Buys 2 Apartment Buildings

Aslan Capital Partners founding partner and CEO James H. Simmons III

A former partner at Ares Management has launched his own real estate investment firm and has already made acquisitions in Northern Virginia and New York City.

James Simmons III Thursday announced the launch of Asland Capital Partners, a New York-based firm focused on investment in multifamily, mixed-use and retail assets. 

The company's launch coincided with the announcement that it acquired a 244-unit apartment building in Alexandria, Virginia, and a 353-unit apartment complex in The Bronx. The combined price of the acquisitions was $85M, according to a spokesperson. 

The firm is backed by StepStone Real Estate, a New York-based private equity firm with $51B of assets under management. Simmons will serve as Asland's CEO and the head of its investment committee. 

Simmons previously served as a partner at Ares Mangement since 2013. Prior to that, he was a partner at AREA Property Partners and its predecessor, Apollo Real Estate Advisors. Before entering private equity fund management, he was president and CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corp. 

The Park Lane apartments at 1965-1975 Lafayette Ave. in The Bronx

The new investment firm's strategy is to buy residential and mixed-use assets with cash flow in submarkets that are experiencing a resurgence in demand for apartments, Simmons said. The firm plans to focus on emerging submarkets in the Boston, New York, D.C., Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

"Asland's focus will be on providing a product that serves the rise in urban population growth, in markets across the U.S. where we have extensive experience, connectivity, local knowledge and have invested successfully in the past," Simmons said in a release. 

The Alexandria property it acquired, Heritage at Old Town, is located at 431 South Columbus St., four blocks from Old Town Alexandria's King Street retail corridor. Asland said it plans to preserve and redevelop the 244-unit apartment building. 

The New York City building it acquired, the Park Lane apartments, sits in the The Bronx at 1965-1975 Lafayette Ave., one block from a Marshalls-anchored retail center. The firm plans to preserve the affordability of the existing 353-unit building and work with local government agencies to add 429 new units of affordable housing. 

"In addition to the preservation of existing workforce housing, there are clear opportunities in distressed assets that will benefit from sustainable capital investments and repurposing for residential leasing, and much-needed retail to serve markets that are desperate for quality offerings," Simmons said.