The Donaldson Group Partners with Moyer & Sons to Deliver 12,000 Donations to House of Ruth and Other Local Charities

Rockville, MD—December, 2016

What began as an October program to raise awareness for domestic violence prevention across its portfolio became The Donaldson Group (TDG)’s most successful community service initiative to date. With 20 communities participating, TDG teams collected over 12,000 items to support House of Ruth in Baltimore, MD.

Marianella “Nella” Taylor, co-founder of the initiative, is thrilled with how support grew throughout the company to help victims of domestic violence: “I wanted to help share tools and educate others on domestic violence because of a situation my friend was going through. Living in fear can really change someone’s personality and hurt their confidence. It’s really awesome how so many people came together to talk about all the ways we can help, not just about getting donations.”

In addition to collecting goods and donations for House of Ruth, TDG held educational events for all of its employees, created information stations at each of its properties, and added jurisdiction-specific domestic violence materials to community resources for residents. “The positive response from our employees was amazing,” says Angelique Wheelock, TDG’s Executive Director of Training. “We were able to explore this issue (domestic violence) from many different angles—safety, employee education, resident resources, and community service—and our team members were very engaged with each aspect of the process. The program started as a way to help one charity during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and evolved into a team-building and community-building opportunity beyond our wildest dreams.”

Two TDG properties in particular led the donation efforts, winning multiple collection contests and recognition. Team Phoenix in Bladensburg, MD collected the most volume of donations, topping the scales at 1530 pounds. Meanwhile, Team Kentlands Manor in Gaithersburg, MD collected 2054 individual items, handily winning the internal contest based on number of donations. Together, these two teams brought in a third of the total donations collected by the organization.

William Ferry, Business Development Specialist at Moyer & Sons Moving and Storage, Inc., visited Kentlands Manor in October and noticed their award-winning domestic violence information station and the House of Ruth donation boxes. “I talked to Mike [Mathis, Property Manager] and knew I wanted to help them with this effort. I have worked with many area charities over the years and I could see that they were going to need some help getting their donations to the charity.”

William and his team donated the use of a moving truck and several Moyer employees volunteered to help the various TDG locations load the truck with donations, including over 12,000 items of food, clothing and toys. In fact, the donation drive was so successful, House of Ruth could not accept the entire volume brought to Baltimore in December.

Fortunately, William’s other non-profit contacts provided TDG and Moyer & Sons with alternative charities for the surplus donations. and his team to share some of the goods with other local charities including Manna Food Bank, The Dwelling Place, Frederick Rescue Mission, MCPS Coat Drive for the Homeless, and Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless.


The Donaldson Group’s Nelson Ramos PMA Maintenance Supervisor/Service Manager of the Year

Posted on October 27, 2016

The Donaldson Group’s Nelson Ramos, Service Manager at The Commons at Cowan Boulevard, Wellington Woods and Camden Hills in Fredericksburg, VA, won the Maintenance Supervisor/Service Manager of the Year (4 or more employees)—Special Recognition Award at the PMA Maintenance Professional Awards held October 26, 2016, at Martin’s Crosswinds in Greenbelt, MD. Twelve maintenance professionals from ten different management companies were recognized at the annual event.

Nelson, a seven-year veteran of The Donaldson Group (TDG), was nominated by Senior Property Manager Meghan Kerlavage. “Nelson does an outstanding job managing his team across three sites comprising of 530 apartments,” Meghan says. “He’s the first in and last to leave and leads by example every day.  He would never ask a member of his team to do something he wouldn’t do.  I’m always impressed by his leadership and positive attitude!”

Ironically, Nelson almost missed out on his award not once, but twice. First, the day of his PMA interview, an office miscommunication about date and time had Nelson supporting another TDG property more than 30 miles away. Through phone calls with Rick Lowman, Engineering Operations Manager for Southern Management Corporation and interviewer for the PMA Maintenance Professional Awards, they were able to come up with a mutually convenient time to meet later in the day.

Second, because Nelson is essentially a regional maintenance supervisor, there was not an established category in the contest for an employee at his level. Because he was already in Fredericksburg, Rick decided to go ahead and visit each of Nelson’s three properties while he waited for Nelson to return. He was very impressed with the way Nelson maintains the properties under his supervision and decided to go ahead and interview him even though he technically did not fit into one of the award categories.

After replacing a water heater and then working on a second one, Nelson returned to Fredericksburg to meet with the interviewer after regular work hours.  Rick was stunned: “Nelson was fresh and new just like he showed up to work that morning, even after doing all that work. Despite having to do a tough job at a property miles away and dealing with the difficulty we had getting together, he had a really positive approach to everything.”

Not only did Nelson have the right attitude and act with sterling professionalism, he further impressed Rick his “spot on” interview answers and the way he exhibited team mentality: “Nelson was always talking about things in terms of his team, not just himself. He was very humble.”

Rick realized he had a dilemma—Nelson was not really in the service manager category, yet his performance was definitely worthy of recognition. He elaborates, “We didn’t have a category for a regional maintenance supervisor, so it was really not fair to rank him with the others.”

After returning to the PMA Operations Committee and discussing Nelson with them, Rick found a solution: “Nelson is truly a professional at another level. We were pleased to create a Maintenance Supervisor of the Year—Special Recognition Award to acknowledge him and his contributions to the profession.”


TDG Executive John Majeski to Speak at Bisnow Multifamily Annual Conference East

Posted on September 16, 2016

As published in

Bisnow is pleased to announce our Fifth Annual BMAC East conference! This year, we’re packing all the action into one full day of hard hitting content from the East Coast’s top multifamily executives. Our panels will delve into all aspects of the industry – the capital stack, how to thrive in the next recession, the apartment of the future, the ever expanding importance of mixed-use communities, affordable housing, finding value in properties where others may not, current and future developments, trends in design and construction, and much, much more! As always, Bisnow promises plenty of networking opportunities to connect in a fun, and fast-paced atmosphere in the Nation’s capital.


Multifamily Investors Love Prince George’s County, Purple Line – Multifamily

 Posted on May 9

As published in  |  Ethan Rosnow

At Bisnow’s regional multifamily forum last week, it wasn’t the luxury apartments with rooftop pools and million-dollar condos getting the most love from our panelists. Rather, it was the old properties with few amenities to speak of in emerging markets like Prince George’s County that seemed like the belle of the ball.

County executive Rushern Baker is the man to credit with much of the county’s recent success, and his proposed $50M investment in Suitland—along with moving the county government to Largo from Upper Marlboro—is seen as just another step in the right direction.

“There’s a ton of value-add product in Prince George’s County,” The Donaldson Group SVP John Majeski (on the right, next to Lowe Enterprise’s Mark Rivers said. TDG is a value-add multifamily investor, buying Class-C properties and sprucing them up. “To us, we’ve always liked it for what we do, but we like it even more with what’s going on now, the focus the county is taking.”

Multifamily Investors Love Prince George’s County, Purple Line

Helping matters is the Purple Line, running from Bethesda in next-door Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George’s, stopping through the University of Maryland in College Park on its way. Whereas the suburbs have only been growing strongly around Metro stops, for the most part, the Purple Line has the potential to create more, reliable transit.

Multifamily Investors Love Prince George’s County, Purple Line

“The transit stop is the new interchange,” Cooper Carry’s David Kitchens said. “While you don’t want to be out in the generic suburbs, there’s a lot of interest around all the Metro stations, the Silver Line and the Purple Line. There’s a lot of transit connections and connectivity along that line, where you’ll see residential infill.”

And even though a Purple Line station in Prince George’s County will never compete with the vibrancy of places like the U Street corridor, no one wants to live forever in a neighborhood where the streets are as crowded as the bars every Friday and Saturday night.

Multifamily Investors Love Prince George’s County, Purple Line

“There’s no question that national investors believe Millennials are going to move out to the ‘burbs,” Clarion Partners’ Barron Williams, sitting in between Fannie Mae’s Wilfred Steplight and EagleBank chief of lending Tony Marquez, said. “What’s the magnitude of the move? The home ownership rate ticked up this quarter for the first time in years. Is that a blip or has the trend reversed?”


Lenders Pull Back In DC As Multifamily Supply Continues To Grow – Multifamily

Posted on April 22, 2016

As published in  |  Ryan Boysen, Bisnow, NY

Financing for multifamily developments in Washington, DC, is starting to tighten, as lenders begin to wonder just how much more supply the area can absorb after two years of record-setting residential deliveries. Bisnow talked to several panelists who’ll be speaking on that very subject at our upcoming DC Regional Multifamily Forum on April 26.

In 2014, 14,000 new residential units were delivered, and deliveries remained strong last year.

Demand has kept pace enough to ensure all those new units are being occupied, but rent growth has slowed to a crawl due to all the new supply, leading to concerns among lenders.

“There’s definitely been a tightening in the financing markets in general,” says Charles Elliott (above), a managing director at Toll Brothers Apartment Living, which has six projects with about 2,100 units total in the pipeline.

“Lenders are looking a lot more closely at who’s doing the project, where it is and what sets it apart, than they were maybe a year or two ago,” he says.

While that’s made financing harder to come by generally speaking, Charles says it has also created opportunities for well-known firms with big balance sheets like Toll Brothers.

“Smaller, lesser-known outfits are going to have a tougher time convincing lenders to back a project,” Charles says.

As a result, Charles says he’s looking at partnering with smaller firms that might not have been able to get a project off the ground by themselves in the current environment.

Barron Williams (above), a director at Clarion Partners, says the tightening is just as evident for equity as it is for the debt markets when it comes to multifamily in DC.

“Equity markets have definitely tightened for new construction,” he says. “Joint venture equity is clearly getting harder for developers to source, out of a general reluctance to contribute to potential oversupply.”

The affordability of rents in Class-A apartments is also concerning, he says, and something Clarion will be watching closely in the months ahead.

John Majeski (shown on the right, along with Beech Street Capital’s Michael Edelman and Martin Architectural Group’s Mike Rosen), an SVP at the Donaldson Group, says the impact of stagnant rent growth in the new supply has been limited for Donaldson.

That’s because the Donaldson Group primarily focuses on buying and renovating Class-B and C apartment buildings and reselling them, so they’ve been somewhat insulated from all the new Class-A supply coming online.

“Developers typically build Class-A stock, so that accounts for the vast majority of the recent supply,” John says. “That hasn’t had much of a direct effect on us to date, but we’re always wary of the possibility of Class-A rents slipping and then that possibly trickling down to the other product classes.”

“So we always underwrite enough of a spread of our rents to the Class-A rents,” he adds.

Despite all the new supply and stagnant rent growth, the price of apartment buildings remains high, a fact that’s vexed John and his colleagues at Donaldson.

“The pricing we have seen has been pretty rich out there,” he says. “There’s a lot of money chasing deals and that’s made it a bit tough for us to buy given the way we underwrite deals.”


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As published in

Typical of older multifamily buildings: one centralized plant servicing all heating and cooling of the apartments. Newer trend: individual controls in each apartment, giving tenants more control. JohnThe Donaldson Group (TDG) is getting busy servicing the great demand for this utility conversion, identifying older multifamily properties with existing central utility plant systems and upgrading them. Senior VP John Majeski tells us these existing heating and cooling systems are typically inefficient; performing utility conversions can present an opportunity for a significant return on investment, as well as creating a higher product class for future renters. Another added value: an increased buyer pool when the time comes to sell. How the conversion works: abandoning the central plant and installing individually metered electric heat pumps or individually metered gas furnaces in each apartment. TDG is currently operating a third-party utility conversion for Harbor Group International; Jefferson at Orchard Pond Apartments, Gaithersburg, MD, with 748 units built in 1975. Recent TDG utility conversions include Regency Pointe Apartments, Forestville, MD, 599 units built in 1963: utility expense savings over 60%; and Andrew’s Ridge Apartments, Suitland, MD, 492 units built in 1965: utility expense savings over 60%. Conversions in progress include the Cider Mill Apts, Montgomery Village, MD, 864 units built in 1971: estimated utility expense savings: 50%.


Posted on December 19, 2015

As published in  |  Carolyn Kimmel

With new single- and multifamily homes on the upswing, natural gas utilities are leading the way toward innovative solutions to further the housing market’s recovery.

There’s nothing like a healthy dose of optimism to start off the New Year, and finally—after several years of wondering just how long a shadow the 2007–2009 recession would actually cast—there’s good news in the residential housing market.  Continue Reading »


As published in

Marcus & Millichap / IPA Multifamily Forum DC | March 24, 2016 – Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center

The Marcus & Millichap / IPA Multifamily Forums across the U.S. bring together over 5,000 multifamily owners, investors, managers and developers to create an in-person marketplace for learning, discover, networking and deal making. The sessions address the major issues affecting the apartment and condo industries today, and the networking allows multi-housing principals to meet, talk and source deals and investment capital.

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Month Of Deals. Here Are The 25 Biggest.

2015 is just about over, meaning firms have been racing to get deals done and on the books. Here’s a list of every significant commercial real estate transaction we could find—25 in all since mid-November—including some prices and buyers/sellers that haven’t been previously reported anywhere.

DC Had An Epic Final Month Of Deals. Here Are The 25 Biggest.








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