Pictured: Conrad Prebys
Credit: Conrad Prebys Foundation
By Roberto Jimenez, Jr.
A New York-based private equity fund has agreed to buy 66 apartment complexes in San Diego for more than $1 billion, making the group one of the top three landlords in the region.
Blackstone Partners, which already owns the Hotel del Coronado and Legoland, also owns more than 900 other apartment units in the county, and employs more than 5,500 people in the region.
The complexes included in the deal, totaling 5,800 units, have been owned by the Conrad Prebys Foundation, set up by the late Conrad Prebys who made his fortune in the real estate business and left his properties to his charitable foundation to continue to support his philanthropy after his death in 2016.
In addition to the purchase price, Blackstone has committed to spend another $100 million to improve the apartments, including addressing deferred maintenance, and adding gyms, greenspaces, and playgrounds.
With the purchase of the units, Blackstone will have a total of approximately 6,700 units, second only to San Diego R&V Management, which currently owns more than 8,000 units in the county.
Affordable housing advocates worry that large private investors buying up large numbers of units will drive up rental prices and add to the region’s housing crisis.
Bu representatives from Blackstone have committed to keep the majority of the units affordable for residents making 80 percent or less of the area median income.
The apartment complexes are located in communities throughout the county, including San Ysidro, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, National City, Lemon Grove, Lakeside, Spring Valley, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, El Cajon, Escondido, Ramona, and Santee.
The Conrad Prebys Foundation already had about $1 billion in assets and has given away more than $370 million to local non-profits and community groups.
So far this year, the Foundation has donated nearly $78 million to 114 organizations across San Diego County to support funding for 121 programs in the arts, health care, medical research, animal conservation, education, and the welfare of young people, including grants to the San Diego Zoo, La Jolla Music Society, Scripps Health, SDSU, and KPBS.
Originally from Indiana, Conrad Prebys moved to California with only $500 in his pocket. He eventually amassed a large real estate portfolio and became one of the largest private owners of residential multi-family properties in San Diego County. Mr. Prebys died on July 24, 2016, at the age of 82.