TAMPA — With Tampa Bay's apartment market still going strong even as lenders start to tighten up, a Nashville-based company has bought one of the area's newest apartment complexes for $80 million.
Crescent Communities sold its 374-unit Crescent Westshore to Nicol Investment Co., which plans to rename and rebrand the complex later this year. Completed in 2016, the apartments at 2202 N. Lois Ave. are about 50 percent leased.
"The Westshore area has become much more than a business district over the last few years and is now a vibrant, live-work-play community," said Jay Curran, Crescent Communities senior vice president. "We are glad to have been part of the area's positive transformation with Crescent Westshore and we look forward to seeing this community continue to thrive under its new ownership."
The sale price, which works out to about $213,000 per unit, "is a very strong price" but not a record in Tampa Bay, said Darron Kattan, an expert on multi family housing with the brokerage Franklin Street.
The South Tampa complex 2 Bayshore commanded a record price of $308,815 per unit in 2014, while the Skyside Channelside tower sold for $275 per unit last year and Modera Prime 235 in downtown St. Petersburg recently went for $251,000 per unit.
Crescent Westshore is "not a high-rise, Kattan said, "and the location, while excellent, is not irreplaceable.''
Ranging from 528-foot studios to 1,431-square-foot, three-bedroom units, Crescent Westshore's apartments rent for up to $2,395 and include quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances and washers and dryers. The complex also has a summer kitchen, a dog run and two salt water pools.
In the past few years. Tampa Bay has seen thousands of new luxury apartments hit the market. Hundreds more are either under construction or announced, including Related Group's planned 15-story tower in downtown St. Petersburg and Crescent Communities' 392-unit Crescent Riverwalk, now underway in downtown Tampa.
After a brief slowdown when interest rates rose late last year, the bay area apartment market "has heated back up,'' Kattan said. "I would say it's full steam ahead, we are getting a tremendous amount of activity on any listing we get. Investor dollars are hungry for any listing they can get.''
Construction financing, though, is becoming more difficult to obtain because lenders are wary about possible over-building, Kattan said. And apartments could become less attractive to investors if rents don't continue growing at their current torrid pace.
"The only thing we're concerned with is the lack of wage growth in the face of significant rent growth in our market,'' Kattan said. "Rents are going up; salaries aren't. Marketwide, we're seeing anywhere between six to eight percent year-over-year (rent increases). That's high, and without wage growth, that is not sustainable.''
Kattan said some Class A-plus apartments are offering concessions — generally a month's free rent — for the first time in years.
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Contact Susan Taylor Martin at email@example.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate