When Mirine Dye went hunting for a place for her and her two daughters, they settled on a three-bedroom unit in a new high-rise in Miami’s trendy Edgewater neighborhood with all the trimmings of a fancy condominium: a fitness center, a bayfront pool, a sauna and steam room, and a social center.
But SkyView, a 32-story tower that opens in mid-September, is built for renters — not owners.
The project, developed by Miami-based Melo Group, exemplifies a new generation of professionally managed rental apartments emerging in South Florida.
After a long drought in rental construction and the loss of thousands of rental units to condo conversion during the last boom, 13 new rental apartment projects with 3,508 units were completed recently in Miami-Dade and Broward counties and another 31 projects with 9,841 units are under construction, according to a pipeline report from the Hunter Group of Institutional Property Advisors in Fort Lauderdale.
Eight rental developments with 2,035 units were in the permitting stage and 32 more projects with 10,313 units were planned, as of the July report, as developers rush to capitalize on surging demand for rentals.
Prominent developers like Miami condo king Jorge Pérez’s Related Group have jumped in big time. Related has 13 “market-rate” or mainstream rental projects with about 4,000 units in the works, 75 percent of it in Miami-Dade and Broward. That is separate from its affordable-housing arm, Related Urban, which has thousands more units in the pipeline.
Many of these new market-rate apartments are packed with amenities from fancy club and fitness facilities to business centers to high-end finishes like granite countertops, upscale kitchen cabinets and stainless-steel appliances. And the rent reflects it: A small, one-bedroom can start around $1,500 a month.
The new rental construction, which is echoed in many places around the nation, signals a big shift in the way Americans live: Since the housing crash, many more people are looking to rent, either because they can’t buy or simply prefer the convenience and flexibility.
“I like the freedom of renting, and I don’t have to worry about the market fluctuations. I’m happy to be a renter,” said Dye, a 43-year-old public health worker who moved to Miami-Dade from the Florida Keys about a year ago and is smitten with the amenities and location of her soon-to-be new digs, which includes wood flooring and upscale appliances and are close to her kids’ school.
“People realize that deciding to own an apartment is different than deciding on shelter. The last cycle taught people that investments should be made for investment purposes and the shelter decision should be made independent of that,” said Michael M. Adler, chairman of Miami-based Adler Group, which recently broke ground on ShoreCrest Club Apartments on the Bay at 7951 NE Bayshore Court. The joint venture with ECI Group of Atlanta calls for two 20-story towers near the western side of the 79th Street Causeway.
“Qualifying for a mortgage on a home is tough, and the younger generation is seeing what happened to their parents with housing,” said developer Armando Codina, who recognized early in the housing debacle that rental demand was poised to take off and refocused from industrial and commercial projects to apartment construction. “People want to be mobile. They’ve seen how owning a home drags down other people from taking a job in another place,” Codina said.