Eighty-three downtown Wilmington historic dwellings have changed hands for the second time in a little over two years.
Tom Cruz and John Lewis of TJ Real Estate Holdings LLC purchased the portfolio of rental units, along with a small amount of unused land, from members of the Olson family for $6.3 million, according to deeds recorded Tuesday.
The properties contain 93 rental units in the 83 dwellings. A majority of the homes in the portfolio are located between Seventh and 17th streets and are two- to five-bedroom houses, mainly built between 1910 and 1925.
Ten percent of the homes are available to tenants using the Housing Choice Voucher Program (previously called Section 8).
"We're going to be increasing that probably close to 30 percent," Cruz said, working with the Wilmington Housing Authority.
The federal voucher program enables private landlords to rent apartments and homes to qualified lower-income tenants.
"There's a huge waiting list," said Cruz, who also has 50 rental properties of his own, mainly in downtown Wilmington. "I get calls every day from people with vouchers."
Cruz, who has lived in Wilmington since 2006 and graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2010 with a degree in finance, said he and Lewis are already at work making improvements to the homes they just purchased.
Cruz said he got into real estate investment after "recognizing the huge growth in downtown Wilmington and being able to offer affordable housing, which is in huge demand as well. A lot of these houses that I buy, you can tell previous landlords are just not taking care of them, so that's our big thing . . . we would want to live there before we rent it out to anybody. It's a long-term investment for me and my partner. That's why we're in the process of renovating so many units, to get them to where we would want to live in them."
Jeff Hovis of Intracoastal Realty represented TJ Real Estate Holdings LLC in its recent purchase of the portfolio. Broker Sharon Cushing of Coldwell Banker Commercial Sun Coast Partners represented the Olsons in the sale.
A Georgia-based limited liability company managed by members of the Olson family bought the portfolio for about $4.9 million in 2016
Before the Olsons bought the homes, the properties belonged to companies affiliated with Wilmington-based Real Properties.