While the multimillion-dollar conversion of a former Branson hotel into an apartment complex remains in progress, the first units of the property are opening next month to renters.
Officials with California-based Drever Partners say roughly one-third of the 324 apartments will be available June 15 when the first of The Penleigh-Branson Row’s three residential buildings opens. The company last year purchased the former Angel Inn by the Strip, off of 76 Country Boulevard and north of the Hollywood Wax Museum, and began a roughly $12.5 million project in September to redevelop it into apartments.
Drever Partners currently is preleasing apartments for the 300 N. Francis St. development constructed by Indianapolis, Indiana-based Midwest GC LLC. Indianapolis-based Prince Alexander Architecture designed the complex.
“The Penleigh will offer a variety of amenities for our residents, which will include access to the clubhouse and tech center, a full gym, swimming pool with outdoor barbecue and cabanas, a playground, laundry lounge, and a beautifully designed dog park,” said Galen Drever, managing director of Drever Partners, via email.
Drever said most of the property’s amenities remain under construction but are expected to be available when the second and third buildings open this fall. He declined to disclose if the project is still on its $12.5 million budget.
“We are opening the property in three phases,” he said, noting the first building has 110 apartments while the other two will contain 108 units each.
No new construction is planned, as the on-site buildings are getting overhauled, including flooring, cabinetry, electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems.
Drever said monthly rent starts at $700, a $100 increase from the amount when the company announced the project last year. He previously told Springfield Business Journal it should be ideal for workers such as those in the service and hospitality industry. Leases of six and 12 months are available, and residents can receive a $25 discount per quarter for early payment, according to officials.
“For our workforce challenges, we have to have inventory for obtainable housing at all levels,” said Jonas Arjes, executive director of economic development organization Taney County Partnership. “This type of development will serve a need.”
Arjes said it remains to be seen if $700 per month will be affordable to a large percentage of renters.
“Like everything else, the market will dictate what they can handle,” he said.
A housing study commissioned in 2018 by the Taney County Partnership and released in 2019 noted 42% of Taney County single- and multifamily homes were occupied by renters. Statewide, the total was 33%, according to the study.
“One thing coming out of that study is that we need inventory at all price points,” Arjes said, adding the Taney County Partnership plans to eventually conduct a second study. “But we’re postponing that because the real estate market has been so hot.”
Drever said the company plans to offer Penleigh-Branson Row residents fitness classes, job training programs and after-school tutoring free of charge. Those are expected to be available by the end of the year, he said.
“Our team will help plan, schedule and oversee each program that takes place at The Penleigh-Branson Row, and a majority of them will take place in our newly remodeled clubhouse,” Drever said, noting the undisclosed company investment for the services will be folded into its property management budget.
Community partnerships also are being sought with local nonprofits to expand on programs at the development, he said.
Drever Partners, formerly Drever Atelier Partners, was founded in 2020 as a sister company to real estate investment firm Drever Capital Management, according to past SBJ reporting. Drever Capital Management has acquired and developed over 47,000 multifamily units over the past 50 years and has more than $285 million in assets under management, according to its website.
Drever previously told SBJ his company’s primary focus is to convert struggling hotels into affordable apartments with amenities for residents, and The Penleigh is its first. He said several more are in the pipeline.
“The foundation of my family’s businesses throughout the years has always been socially responsible investing and to enrich the lives of our residents,” Drever said. “It’s a win-win for our investors and residents because by offering these programs we’ve been able to create a real sense of community.”
The city of Branson has worked in recent years to reduce the number of motels used as long-term residences, according to past SBJ reporting. City officials in 2020 said there were 27 extended-stay motels in the city, down from 38 in 2018, when annual fire, health and building code inspections were ramped up. Spokesperson Melody Pettit said no one with the city was able to speak with SBJ about the city’s current extended-stay property stock, additional enforcement attempts or ongoing upgrade projects.
While the company has properties in major markets such as Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles, The Penleigh is its first in Branson. However, Drever said it likely won’t be its last.
“We’d like to buy more in the area due to the need for housing designed for working professionals, and because of the property management efficiencies,” he said. “We have thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone in Branson and would love to find more opportunities.”
A pair of area medical colleges that received state grant funding in the fall are now investing the funds toward technology and new programs with the intent of attracting more students to the nursing profession.