By Tim J. Randall
For Omar Mireles, Executive Vice President of HSL Properties, family has always provided perspective on the education and achievements he, as a young entrepreneur, attained in the commercial real estate sphere.
Mireles’ life has always centered on learning and knowledge. At 10 years of age, Mireles relocated from Nogales, Sonora, to attend school in Tucson. However, it was alongside his uncle where Mireles learned some of his most valuable lessons.
“While living with my aunt and uncle in Tucson, my uncle would take me to his office and his apartment constructions sites,” he says. His uncle, Humberto S. Lopez, co-founded HSL Properties with his partner Glenn Toyoshima in 1975.
Mireles took those early pragmatic lessons in real estate and carried them to Cornell University and New York, where he honed his interests in property and housing.
His first post-graduation job was at the real estate finance group of the investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in New York. However, home often comes knocking at life’s door and after five years in New York Mireles returned to Tucson where his wife and family had roots.
In Tucson, Omar accepted a position with HSL and worked under the man who had raised and taught him the ropes of real estate. In his time at HSL, Omar has facilitated growth for an organization that currently owns and operates more than 10,000 apartment units in 40 apartment communities. HSL is the largest apartment owner in southern Arizona.
As Mireles explains, multifamily holdings for HSL are the company’s core business. However, the company has invested in office and retail buildings, shopping malls, a golf course and hotels during its more than three decades of history.
Over the last 10 years Mireles and the apartment management team that has grown to more than 250 people have brought a consistent methodology to HSL’s business model, which as Omar indicates “originated with the concept of creating value for its investors by providing excellent service to its residents while controlling operating costs.”
When asked about the avuncular relationship that connects family with work, Mireles points to the ability of he and his uncle to work well together.
“I can tell him things like they are,” he says.
The two men share a vision for the company’s multifamily offerings.
“The availability of high quality, well located and affordable commercial real estate facilities in areas that have good infrastructure is critical to the social and economic vitality of the community,” he says.
As the company’s executive vice president, Mireles is charged with managing HSL’s property portfolio, which includes 40 apartment communities – 31 in Tucson, seven in Phoenix, one in Casa Grande and one in Yuma.
With a strong Tucson presence, the firm also has expanded north into greater Phoenix with the acquisition of about 2,000 units since 2009.
“We continue to look for opportunities in the Phoenix market and would like to double our Phoenix holdings within the next couple of years,” Mireles says.
The development of the firm in these two markets has provided opportunities across multiple platforms. In a notable transaction, the firm acquired the La Reserve Apartments in Tucson at a trustee sale in 2009.
“A literal all-cash transaction that closed in 24 hours with no due diligence was a little nerve-racking, but it has turned out to be a great deal for us” says Mireles.
In 2012, it saw the completion of Encantada Riverside Crossing, a $32 million, 304-unit luxury apartment complex in Tucson. Additionally, the firm acquired two hotels, the Embassy Suites Williams Center and the Best Western Tucson Airport, and is currently in the process of remodeling a third, the La Quinta Randolph Park. The firm is also working on a viable redevelopment for downtown Tucson’s Hotel Arizona.
On the multifamily front, Encantada at Dove Mountain, a resort-style apartment community in Marana, is now accepting lease applications for its upcoming opening, and Encantada at Steam Pump Ranch will deliver its first units by the end of the year.
“The multifamily operating business provides the company the stability not only to survive downturns, but to grow,” he says. “We feel that the Tucson and Phoenix markets will continue to outperform in the long-run.”
For HSL, the opportunities for growth are entrusted to the family team of Mireles, his entrepreneurial uncle and its dedicated staff of professionals.