[caption id="attachment_66370" align="alignnone" width="500"] At the groundbreaking ceremony for the nearly $33 million Preserve at Marin project were (from left) Corte Madera Vice Mayor Diane Furst, Councilmember Carla Condon, Aimco Senior Vice President of Redevelopment Ralph Pickett, Vice President for Redevelopment John Ruedebusch, Senior Director of Construction Daphne Rhodes, Vice President of Construction Services Ricardo Ortiz. (photo credit: Aimco)[/caption]

The Preserve at Marin300 Robin Dr., Corte Madera

Owner: Apartment Investment and Management Co., Denver

Description: Extensive renovation of 126 units for luxury apartments

Design: architecture -- CLE Engineering Inc., Novato, and GGLO, Seattle; landscape -- Parducci & Associates, San Francisco; interior -- Private Label International, Tempe, Ariz.

Engineering: civil - Kier & Wright Civil Engineers & Surveyors, Livermore; structural -- OAC Services, Seattle; mechanical, electrical and plumbing -- ENCON, Los Altos

General contractor: Tricorp Hearn Construction, Gold River

Pool consultant: Aquatic Design Group, Carlsbad

Cost: $85 million, including $44 million for property acquisition

CORTE MADERA -- A 126-unit vacant multifamily complex on a southern Marin County hillside overlooking the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and San Francisco Bay is getting a $32.6 million makeover to have luxury apartments ready for tenants in the latter half of next year.

Denver-based Apartment Investment and Management Co. (NYSE: AIV), known as Aimco, is betting about $85 million, or $674,600 a unit, on the renovation of the Corte Madera complex formerly known as Madera Vista. The real estate investment trust purchased the eight-acre property at 300 Robin Dr. for $43.6 million, or $346,000 per dwelling, in August 2011 from affiliates of Boston-based The Rockpoint Group and New York-based Stellar Management. Aimco originally estimated the renovation would cost $21.4 million.

"They were older units, but when they are done they will be state-of-the-art luxury apartments," said Dave Bruss, vice president for estimating and business development for project general contractor Tricorp Hearn Construction. "The town of Corte Madera helped significantly to expedite permitting of this project."

The complex, now called The Preserve at Marin, was built in 1968. A third of one of the seven buildings was destroyed in a 2008 fire. The previous owners had converted the complex to condominiums, but no units were sold. Town officials have said they are eager to transform the aging, empty complex.

"I have been quite pleased to follow Aimco's plans to transform this property, and I am encouraged by their focus on providing high-quality homes while respecting the natural beauty of our unique surroundings," said Councilwoman Carla Stone Condon.

[caption id="attachment_66372" align="alignleft" width="300"] Rendering of The Preserve at Marin's new exterior (image credit: Aimco)[/caption]

The project has four phases, three with two buildings each and the fourth with one building. The first 36 renovated units in two buildings are set to be completed in the third quarter of 2013, with the first move-ins beginning in six months and total completion a year later.

Pricing is still being determined. Aimco's quarterly earnings report in early November said average rent for units comparable to The Preserve at Marin is $3,880 a month.

The renovation project has involved removing doors, siding and windows and taking the interiors back to the studs. Interior walls are being reconfigured for new floorplans, including the creation of six 2,000-plus-square-foot penthouses with 400-square-foot rooftop decks. The units are getting new energy-efficient windows, new appliances and finishes commensurate with the rents.

[caption id="attachment_66371" align="alignleft" width="300"] Architectural rendering of The Preserve at Marin's new pool clubhouse and new deck (image credit: Aimco)[/caption]

Also part of this project are new earthquake-ready foundations for the buildings, which have parking on the bottom level, as well as a 1,500-square-foot clubhouse with fitness center for new deck area for the pool and new landscaping.

An S&P 500 index company, Aimco is one of the country's largest owners and operators of apartments, with 319 communities in 29 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Complexes in the portfolio average B to B-plus in investment-quality ratings, and average monthly rent per unit was $1,332 in the company's third fiscal quarter, up 8 percent from a year before. The increase was attributed to upgrades of facilities, acquisition of quality properties and sale of lower-quality holdings.