An Indiana-based apartment developer is making its first foray into Florida with projects in two of Tampa Bay's trendiest areas.
In Seminole Heights, Milhaus plans 81 apartments plus space for shops and restaurants on North Florida Avenue at the corner of Idlewild Avenue. The site now houses a car lot — one of many along Florida — but the company sees potential for the busy thoroughfare to become a true "Main Street" for Seminole Heights residents.
In St. Petersburg's Grand Central District near downtown, Milhaus is assembling land in the 1600 block of Central Avenue for what tentatively would be 130 apartments with retail and restaurant space.
"We only go to what we call second tier cities but that's a positive thing to us," Jourdan Woodruff, the company's development associate, said Tuesday. "We love the change that (smaller) cities around the country are seeing right now, especially with young professionals moving back to cities. That's what we focus on — serving those residents as well as making an impact on the neighborhoods in all those markets."
In Seminole Heights, Milhaus is under contract to buy a satellite lot of ABC Autos and expects to close this summer. Work on the $20 million project would begin soon afterwards.
"We liked that there's a retail and restaurant revival going on in this neighborhood that's pretty incredible," Woodruff said. "We love the single-family, residential feel of the neighborhood while still being only two miles from downtown but we also love that there really are very few market-rate (rental) projects of that scale. When we told people we had a project in Seminole Heights, they were really excited because it is in need of this kind of development."
The apartments, which will be studios, one- and two-bedroom units, will range from about $1,000 a month to around $2,000. Rich Guagliardo, a Realtor who specializes in Seminole Heights, predicts the project will do well.
"Seminole Heights is just happening now. It's our time," he said. "I think they will be full.
'Both he and Woodruff noted that Florida Avenue already is undergoing a transformation, with shops like Urban Bungalow and restaurants including The Refinery, Fodder & Shine and Independent Bar and Cafe.
"With those developments and with our retail, it's going to create kind of a centralized retail hub in this neighborhood, which is really exciting," Woodruff said. "I think we can make this more of a Main Street."
In St. Petersburg, Milhaus is under contract for much of the 1600 block of Central Avenue but is trying to acquire additional parcels.
"We are still moving forward but the scope of the project and the size could potentially grow," Woodruff said, without putting a price tag on the project.
She said Milhaus was drawn to Central because of its "eclectic feel" and the large amount of development that already has taken place. In the past few years, it has morphed from a tired-looking strip with vacant storefronts into a vibrant stretch of restaurants, cafes, shops and galleries.
The Milhaus project would be within a block of the 325-unit Fusion 1560, whose construction in 2011 launched a flurry of apartment building in and near downtown St. Petersburg.
"I've been to a lot of properties and I think they're all doing very well,'' Woodruff said. "We still think there's an opportunity there."
Indianapolis-based Milhaus, which specializes in Class A multi-family housing, started five years ago and is now in 13 states including the Carolinas, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio and Oklahoma.
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate