Tampa Bay's apartment boom is continuing unabated with three big, mid-priced projects coming out of the ground.
In a joint venture, the giant Carlyle Group and Ohio-based NRP Group are clearing ground for the 274-unit Allure at Gateway on U.S. 19 in Pinellas Park. A Georgia company, Flournoy, is building 339 apartments on U.S. 19 in Clearwater and 218 apartments in Tampa's Westchase area.
While lenders have begun to rein back on high-end new multi-family construction, location and comparatively affordable rents are selling points for all three projects.
"There certainly is some hesitation on the A-plus urban downtown product, but the products you're talking about are more traditional — still well-located but not necessarily A-plus," said Darron Kattan, managing director of the Tampa brokerage Franklin Street. "There is still a lot of demand for that (semi-suburban) product."
In its first foray into the Florida market, Flournoy is well into construction of Vue at Belleair, a sprawling complex of 11 buildings at Belleair Road and the U.S. 19 frontage road. The first tenants are due move in early this summer, property manager Yvonne Shea said.
Ranging from about $1,100 to $2,100, Vue's rents will be lower than for new apartments in downtown St. Petersburg and Tampa. The four-story buildings with rooftop terrace views of Tampa Bay will include 10 "carriage units" with one-car garages.
In Tampa, construction is also underway on Five Oaks at Westchase, a six-building complex just off Sheldon Road across from Costco. Rents are tentatively set for the $1,050 to $1,695 range.
Shea said Flournoy chose the Clearwater and Westchase locations because they are near shopping and restaurants.
Flournoy, which until now has focused on Georgia and the Carolinas, "is a well-established multi-family developer," Kattan said. "Lending has pulled back on this type of product as well but quality developers are the ones that are mostly likely to still build because of their capability and track record."
There is some concern among lenders that the bay area is becoming saturated with luxury apartments, especially in popular downtown areas where rents can soar to $3,000 and above. Overall, reliable rent figures are hard to come by because most companies surveying the rental market check only large apartment complexes at a time when many people rent single family homes.
According to Apartment List, Tampa's average rent for a two-bedroom apartment has risen 4.4 percent since last year to $1,230, $70 more than the national average. Another company, RentCafe, pegs the annual increase at 5.7 percent.
Also attracted to the U.S. 19 corridor were Carlyle and NRP, which paid $5.7 million in March for a 17-acre tract on a stretch of highway dominated by Walmart, furniture stores and car dealerships.
"The main thing is the proximity to 1-275 and the ease of driving to Tampa and downtown St. Pete," said Kurt Kehoe, NRP's vice president for development in Florida.
Allure's main entrance will be on Gateway Center Boulevard, but residents also will be able to exit via U.S.19, though only to the north. Rents in the $40-million project will range from approximately $1,100 to $1,800.
NRP built the Beacon 430 apartments in downtown St. Petersburg three years ago and is "right at the finish line" with Avanti, a nine-story, 366-unit building across the street at 201 Fourth St. S, Kehoe said. Although Avanti won't be finished until September, several months behind schedule, the first tenants will move in this month.
Rents will start at around $1,400 for studios and rise to more than $2,000 for large, higher-floor units with views of the bay. NRP also plans 243 apartments on the 1700 block of Central Avenue.
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at email@example.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate