Drapac bets on Brunswick County growth
Photo courtesy of Wilmington StarNews
When the U.S. real-estate market crashed after the 2007-09 recession, Australian investor Drapac Capital Partners saw opportunity in scooping up distressed properties, including several in fast-growing Brunswick County. The largest swath was Ocean Isle Palms, a 950-acre development started by locally owned Coastal Companies then abandoned when the economy soured.
In December, Brunswick County’s planning commission approved Drapac’s new plan for the property, which includes as many as 2,815 single-family homes; 162,000 square feet of commercial, office and retail space; and a 200-room hotel.
Founded by Michael Drapac in Melbourne, the company has moved its headquarters to Atlanta, where it operates alongside St. Bourke Development. The focal point at Ocean Isle Palms will be a village center, which is expected to open by spring 2020, along with the first phase of homes. The town of Ocean Isle Beach has jurisdiction over 122 acres of the property.
Drapac ventured into the U.S. in 2011, when real-estate prices were depressed after the recession. The company has acquired distressed properties in the Carolinas, including a total of 4,618 residential lots in both states. Drapac owns 15 residenatial properties in North Carolina that are in various stages of development; eight are in Brunswick County. Drapac’s portfolio also includes real estate in Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago and Denver.
“When we started buying things [in the U.S.], there was not any development,” Drapac told Australia’s Financial Review in 2016. “Everyone said at the time there was an oversupply and there was a glut of land. The widespread view then was that the U.S. was never going to recover. But no one was normalizing the data.” Though he wouldn’t provide financial details, the story says Drapac and his investors “at least tripled their money in the past three years.”
In 2012, original developer Mark Saunders and his Coastal Companies turned over 750 parcels in Ocean Isle Palms and several other Brunswick County communities after Bank of America charged the companies with defaulting on a $78 million loan. Drapac acquired the properties in 2014.
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