Borrower profile: Imperium Development targets sustainable multifamily developments

New Atlanta-based developer is aiming for green projects in Southeast US and Sunbelt. 

Imperium Development, a newly formed multifamily development company based in Atlanta, is taking a sustainable approach to building new apartment communities in the Southeast US and Sunbelt.
The firm, formed by Greg Power and Mike Handza, aims to carve out a niche in a sector where there continues to be an extreme supply-demand imbalance.

“Our business plan was one deal in our first year and we now have two deals north of $100 million of development going,” Power said. “We are off to an exciting start, despite the recent turmoil in the markets.” 

The firm’s launch comes after the pair decided to strike out on their own after many years at Trammell Crow Residential and Terwilliger Pappas, where they worked with longtime chairman Ron Terwilliger. The duo has overseen the development of more than 11,000 apartment units and $1.6 billion in projects in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic during their careers. 

“We learned from some fantastic mentors,” Power said. “[Ron] could financially engineer anything and is a great risk manager. We took those principles and then just put our own spin on it.” 

Current projects 

Imperium Development is developing a pair of class A multifamily communities in Georgia, a 240-unit property in Cartersville and a 300-unit building in LaGrange. The firm believes these markets will benefit from strong long-term employment fundamentals that will continue to be in place when the units are delivered in 2024. 

Besides its immediate pipeline plans, another focus for the company is how it will deal with risk management, with Power describing this as a key area of concern, particularly in a market like today’s. 

“When you put together the capital stack, you know you never want to be in a position where you’re forced to do something,” Power said. “We have a very defined box of risk tolerance and that is something we learned: stick to what you’re good at. For us, that means sustainable multifamily, supply-constrained markets and markets with high barriers to entry.” 

He continued: “While there might be some interesting high-risk, high-reward opportunities, that is not the way we’re trying to run our business.” 

When seeking acquisitions, the firm looks at job and population growth and likes markets where the majority of its potential tenants are renters by choice. “When we build, we try to be consistent with the fabric of the neighborhood. There is nothing formulaic about what we do and we try to build every project in a unique way,” Power said. “There is usually a slightly different set of amenities or finishes.” 

Looking ahead 

The firm is on track to have three starts this year and is working to fill its 2024 and 2025 pipelines. Generally speaking, it has found that there is debt and equity capital available for sponsors with good projects in good locations. 

“We have found there to be availability of capital, but it is necessary to find the perfect marriage of debt and equity,” Power said. “A lot of the capital that is out there is IRR driven and, as the debt markets have pulled back, you find there is a greater need for equity. While that hurts the IRR, we have found good sponsors with the right kind of thesis are getting things done.”