ANI in Chapter 11, Hopes to Get Out ‘Collaboratively’

With the ink barely dry on Wednesday’s Chapter 11 filing, an attorney representing Irvine, Calif.–based Atherton-Newport Investments L.L.C. has told CPN that it’s in everyone’s interest for the bankruptcy process to proceed expeditiously. “The company is not now talking to the press,” Joseph A. Eisenberg, of Jeffer, Mangels (pictured), Butler & Marmaro L.L.P., Los Angeles, told CPN. Eisenberg explained that the Chapter 11 filing was triggered by two lawsuits about 40 days ago by two separate note-holders. About 200 investors had invested a total of $40 million in ANI through unsecured notes, Eisenberg said; there are also property-level investors.Pointing out that no one will benefit from prolonged bankruptcy proceedings, he told CPN that ANI will convene a meeting, probably within a few weeks, with all of its note-holders and try to “develop a consensus and collaborative program to go forward.” In a prepared statement, ANI said it “expects to continue to operate normally throughout the Chapter 11 process.” Founded in 2001, ANI specializes in apartment investment and residential development. As a holding company, ANI controls about 5,000 multi-family units in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Seattle and South Florida, and two single-family residential development sites in Southern California, through 21 single-purpose (single-property) entities. Its co-founders and managing principals are Ashish Khatana and Roger Fiola. In 2006, ANI broadened its geographic reach in a big way, with “a campaign to acquire 1,700 housing units in South Florida over the next year.” In March of that year, in its first acquisition outside the Western United States, the company spent $26.7 million to buy Miami Garden Villas, a 376-unit apartment complex near I-95 and the Florida Turnpike. It followed up in July 2006 with the purchase of another Miami apartment community, Asbury Park, a 234-unit complex, for $15.4 million. And in October 2006, ANI bought the 192-unit Country Lake Apartments in West Palm Beach, Fla., for $16.5 million. In each case, ANI’s announced strategy was to rehab and reposition the property–each had been built in the 1970s or 1980s–and aggressively drive occupancy up. At the West Palm Beach property, for example, the company committed about $1.8 million to improvements, including landscaping, exterior painting and general repairs, as well as repairs to 16 units that had been damaged by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and had been vacant since then.