WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann has discovered a new real estate investment opportunity: buying luxury apartments in growing Southern cities. In cities including Miami, Nashville, Atlanta, and Fort Lauderdale, entities associated with Neumann have amassed a portfolio worth over $1 billion of apartment complexes. Most of these purchases were made in the past year.
This move marks a comeback for the disgraced WeWork co-founder. The company was valued at $47 billion, but its value was sharply cut after news the company suffered heavy losses. Neumann’s management style also caused concerns. In the fall of 2019, Neumann was ousted from his CEO position.
Traditional Apartments with Luxury Amenities
The apartment buildings in Neumann’s portfolios are geared toward young professionals. They are often in new development buildings that include extensive amenities and in neighborhoods close to a variety of entertainment, gym, dining options, and workplaces.
Neumann owns the 268-unit Stacks on Main apartments in Nashville, Tennessee. The rental building’s amenities appeal to young professionals. They include a rooftop deck, saltwater pool, dog park, and clubhouse.
Miami is also on Neumann’s investment radar. It has become one of the hottest cities in the U.S. since the pandemic started. He is in contract to buy the 444-unit Caoba apartment tower in downtown Miami. The property is valued at around $200 million. According to court records, Neumann also owns Yard 8, a 387-unit apartment building in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood.
In rapidly growing Fort Lauderdale, Neumann owns a 639-unit apartment complex called Society Las Olas. The apartments include premium finishes, a long list of amenities, and regular community events for residents.
In addition to his focus on big cities, Neumann has invested in some suburban apartments. For example, he owns apartment buildings in Decatur, Georgia and Norwalk, Connecticut. These suburban apartments appeal to young couples looking for more space at affordable prices.
During the pandemic, southern cities have become increasingly attractive. This is partly due to warmer weather and lower taxes. These cities have fewer lockdown-related restrictions, which appeals to some young people. Finally, these cities offer more affordable rents and preserve a vibrant city environment.
Neumann’s Latest Ambition: Apartments
A source familiar with Neumann’s investment strategy says he plans to disrupt the rental-housing industry. He wants to create a recognizable brand of rental apartments that offer a wide assortment of amenities.
D.J. Mauch is a partner in Neumann’s family office and invests Neumann’s net worth. Mauch notes that the pandemic has changed living preferences. “Since the spring of 2020, we have been excited about multifamily apartment living in vibrant cities where a new generation of young people increasingly are choosing to live, the kind of cities that are redefining the future of living. We’re excited to play a role in that future.”
Neumann has also acquired a large stake in startup Alfred Club Inc. This resident management software platform provides in-home concierge services like grocery delivery and laundry services.
Most of the money he invests to buy apartments in southern cities may be his own. When he left WeWork, he negotiated an exceptionally large severance package that included $200 million in payments from SoftBank. It also gave him the ability to sell $578 million in WeWork stock. The former WeWork CEO still has an estimated net worth of at least $1 billion.
Over the years, Neumann has garnered a reputation for eclectic ambitions. When he was head of WeWork, he tried to expand the “We” brand to other areas, including an elementary school called WeGrow. Its mission was to revolutionize early education: “elevating the collective consciousness of the world by expanding happiness and unleashing every human’s superpowers.”
The former CEO makes waves for grandiose statements, like his desire to become the world’s first trillionaire. While media attention helped WeWork build momentum ahead of its originally planned 2019 IPO, his personality also contributed to his downfall. WeWork’s 2019 IPO fell apart after disclosure documents about the company’s unusual corporate governance structure and steep losses concerned investors.
In his new role as an apartment landlord of buildings across several Southern cities, he is pursuing a proven business model during surging rental prices. This successful model begins with traditional apartment buildings and up-charges for sleek designs and well-serviced amenities.