“This submarket is performing at a very high rate,” said Coe
For years, there has been a void in the St. Johns County real estate market.
With so few new apartment complexes built, those looking for affordable apartment living had to look elsewhere — Jacksonville or other surrounding areas — to find Class A rental units.
That is changing.
In the city of St. Augustine, two multi-family projects have been permitted in the last five years: Isla Antigua Apartments, with 249 units off State Road 312, and The Landing at St. Augustine, with 272 units on U.S. 1 North.
Also coming online in the near future is a luxury apartment project at Beachwalk off County Road 210 and a 256-unit complex at Lightsey Road and State Road 207 planned to open in 2020.
Those in the real estate industry say with these developments plugging a hole in the multi-family rental segment of the market, pent-up demand is causing units to be snapped up quickly — by young professionals, couples starting out, retirees or anyone else for whom purchasing a home doesn’t make sense at this point.
Isla Antigua, which features waterfront views of the Intracoastal and much of downtown St. Augustine, began moving in tenants less than three months ago. As of this week, managers said it was 70% leased and almost 50% occupied.
“The response has just been amazing,” said Melissa Burnett, community manager for Isla Antigua. “I feel like there was definitely a need to have this.”
The four-story luxury apartment community offers one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 748 to 1,387 square feet of living space and interior finishes such as plank-style flooring, stainless steel appliances, granite counters and walk-in showers. And the majority also have balconies or outdoor patios.
According to data compiled by Colliers International for the second quarter of 2019, in the Jacksonville metropolitan statistical area, which includes St. Johns County, “the multi-family market continues to be one of the most sought-after markets in the U.S.”
And with a record number of units being added to the market, the absorption rate is just as high.
In St. Augustine, as of April, there were 853 units under construction, which will add to the 1,553 rental units counted by Colliers as of April, with just an 8% vacancy.
“This submarket is performing at a very high rate,” said Bradley Coe, senior director of multi-family investments for Colliers International’s Northeast Florida office. “You’re looking at a submarket that is 93 percent occupied. ... So the units coming online have to be absorbed, and they are at a very rapid rate.”
That’s certainly been the case at the leasing office at The Landing at St. Augustine which has done swift business over the last two years, pre-leasing many of its units even before opening the complex in September 2018.
According to Robin Belmont, property manager for The Landing, the 272 units are 97% occupied and 100% pre-leased.
“It didn’t take long at all,” Belmont said. “It’s giving people options. ... There was nothing like this here before.”
According to a recent report by Colliers International, average rent in St. Augustine is $1,155 per month, with an average square footage of 976.
“It’s exciting to see because it’s so rare these types of properties are economically feasible,” Coe said. “Your [rental] properties in St. Johns County at this point are performing well, leasing well and filling up. And that helps generate returns, which drives more development and investment.”
At Isla Antigua, two-bedroom units start at $1,520 and go up to $1,746. All apartments include the use of an on-site fitness center, pool, cabanas, hammocks, fire pits, gas grills, game room, private dock and kayak launch.
“Our goal was to be inclusive of everyone who wants to enjoy the comfort of multi-family living, from local college students to hospital staff, to empty-nesters and people relocating to St. Augustine,” said Jorge Sardinas, principal of Isla Angtigua’s Catalyst Development Partners, and a resident of Ponte Vedra Beach.
Read more about the new luxury apartments coming to St. Augustine, FL.
Source | St. Augustine Record | Colleen Jones