It appears the floodgates have opened in the Gateway area as four apartment complexes are in the works in the highly accessible swath of town. Some of the 800 units on the drawing board will open as soon as April while others are two years from completion.
Greystar Real Estate Partners, based in Charleston, S.C., hopes to open the first apartments of its 240-unit Elan Gateway on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street at 118th Avenue N in April. The first lease has been signed.
Site plans have been approved by the city for Tampa for developer Bayfair Properties to build 150 apartments near the intersection of Gandy Boulevard and Fourth Street N (specifically, 10980 Oak St. NE).
Another Tampa company, 908 Development Group, has 7 acres under contract near the same intersection and plans to build 150 apartments called Aspire at Gateway. It is slated to close on the property in May and break ground soon after.
And Houston-based Hines is planning 308 luxury apartments called Azure on property next to the Reserve at Gateway off Roosevelt Boulevard near Interstate 275. It paid $6.3 million for 13 acres in late 2012.
Fewer than 10 units are vacant at the sprawling Reserve complex built in 1999. Occupancy rates are above 95 percent at several other existing apartments near these new projects such as the Meadows, Bay Isle Key and Tortuga Pointe. As a result, developers believe there will be plenty of demand for their new products.
"Our attraction to the area is its proximity to the Carillon business district, downtown St. Petersburg and even downtown Tampa," said Justin Wilson, 908 Development's vice president for development.
His company also developed the fully leased Portland, at 300 Eighth St. N, which offers workforce housing at reduced prices made possible with tax credits. Most Aspire apartments will rent at full market prices of $850 to $1,700 a month.
"We thought it's a great location for apartments. You already have apartments in this general area that are a little bit older," said Todd Wigfield, Greystar's managing director of development. "One of the unique things is right in the middle of our site there is a natural wetlands that kind of divides parcels between east and west. They will be connected by a boardwalk." Greystar paid $2 million for the 12.6 acres in 2012.
Apartments at Elan Gateway will rent for $1,000 to $1,500 a month. Greystar will hold several leasing events or parties to generate interest and more signed contracts. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter will be used to help create the guest lists and spread the word.
"Marketing apartments has become pretty dynamic these days. You have avenues to do so many different things. Before (social media) it was difficult to plan events," Wigfield said. "Now we have access to so many more people. Before we would just send paper mailings and you didn't really know who to send them to."
Greystar has hired mostly local subcontractors to build Elan Gateway. By completion in the fall it will account for about 200 jobs.
Hines' first apartments at Azure near the Carillon business mecca will be ready in October with final completion a year later.
"The site represents one of the best development opportunities in Tampa Bay," said Patrick DuFour, a vice president with Apartment Realty Advisors, the company that handled the land purchase for Hines. "Class A apartments in Tampa Bay are full, and there has been a void of new product in the market for nearly five years."
Class A apartments have top amenities such as fitness centers, pools and clubhouses. They are also seen as good investments for institutional investors.
Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at (727) 893-8785 or [email protected]