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Minnesota Snapshot: Hospitality Veterans Buy Rustic Lodge in Orr

During the past decade, real estate veteran Gary Collett has built California Commercial Investment Group Inc. into a company specializing in the acquisition, ownership and management of affordable senior apartment properties, creating a portfolio of about 6,000 units in 60 properties throughout 30 states.

In his company’s latest acquisition, West Falls Apartments LLC has paid Mesa, Arizona-based Roberts Properties $3.55 million for the 80-unit West Falls Apartments. The nine-building complex, which includes townhomes, is at 1641 20th Ave. in International Falls. The Westlake Village, California, buyer closed June 25 on the deal, which included an $888,000 down payment and a new mortgage.

The price works out to $44,375 per unit, a bargain compared to prices in bigger markets. The average sales price per unit for apartments in the Twin Cities metro area is $99,282, according to the Finance and Commerce Apartment Sales Tracker at The tracker has recorded the sales of 23,565 apartment units since Aug. 31, 2011.

“I was over there a week ago, and this was just in wonderful condition,” Collett said. He was impressed with the maintenance man who had been there 20 years and the manager who had been there since it opened 34 years ago.

What drew a southern California executive to the Canadian border town?

A broker in Detroit who knew about his interest in affordable housing brought the property to his attention Collett said. He had owned the 58-unit Heritage House senior apartments in St. Paul for years, so he is used to relying on his staff to handle individual acquisitions.

In this case, Collett, a native of Canada, heard about the property while working at his summer office, a vacation house in Lake of the Woods. “I said,’ I can just drive right over there and take a look at that,'” he said.




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