A fireside lounge and coffee bar, inviting cabanas by the pool, a media room with a wall of big screens, a terrace featuring an outdoor pool table, a fitness center with on-demand spin and yoga classes and life-size virtual trainers — welcome to the ‘burbs, baby.
If this sounds like a resort, that’s completely by design. New amenity-rich rental communities complete with conference rooms and business centers are popping up well beyond the gleaming towers of downtown Miami or Fort Lauderdale.
A sampling: In West Kendall, Richman Signature Properties last month opened the luxury rental development Azura; it is set to open Portico in Sunrise this fall. In Miramar, FCI Residential recently has begun leasing Atlantico, on the heels of opening Toscana at Margate. In West Miami, the The Estate Companies developed the Soleste Club Prado and Soleste West Gables, and has several more projects set for the neighborhood.
Hialeah and Pembroke Pines are set for new luxury rental projects, thanks to Boca Raton-based Altman Companies that opened Altis Kendall Square late last year. And don’t forget fast-growing Doral, where upscale offerings include the Related Group’s Manor at CityPlace, a 394-unit luxury apartment project that opened last year, and The Flats, a 304-unit urban midrise rental community under construction.
But this isn’t your parents’ suburban living. These districts bring live-work-play urban living to its residents. The rental communities encourage social interaction with their many high-tech, high-energy gathering spaces and events for residents — and sometimes resident canines, too. At least one developer, Richman Signature Properties, offers various clubs for residents to get involved in the community as soon as they move in.
“When you create high-density corridors, the retail and commercial come right behind it, so we are creating these mini areas that become self-sufficient,” said Robert Suris, principal of the Estate Companies. Because long commutes add to environmental problems, developing these mini-districts is the modern way of growing cities, he said.
“This is really where society is going,” Suris said. “People don’t see the value of buying a home as much anymore — jobs are more mobile and [people] need the flexibility. This is how they live. Millennials are not excited about owning a house and cutting the grass. They would rather be in a facility where everything is provided for.”
Indeed, neighborhoods outside the urban cores of Miami and Fort Lauderdale and the beaches are becoming more attractive to luxury rental developers as more affordability-seeking young professionals are moving west, north and south. Data from CoStar Group, a market tracker, found investors and developers have traded more than $5 billion worth of multifamily properties in South Florida so far this year, much of that in the suburbs.
“Lately, it seems that even if investors are willing to pay the premium for a 4- or 5-star property, that premium is still usually counterbalanced by selecting a suburban location,” said Evan Snow, South Florida market analyst for CoStar.
9,950 Number of new apartment units that opened or are expected to be completed in Miami-Dade and Broward this year.
It’s a trend that is not likely to let up. A recent forecast by market watcher Marcus & Millichap shows that in 2016, Miami-Dade is set to get the largest annual influx of new apartments in at least 17 years — a total of 7,200 units, up from 2,450 last year. Roughly half of those are in the greater downtown area.
In Broward, building is less brisk — 2,750 rental units are open or expected to open this year, compared to 2,630 last year. But unlike in 2015, most of the new development this year is west of I-95, particularly in Sunrise/Lauderhill and Plantation/Davie/Weston, the Broward Marcus & Millichap report said. Rents are expected to increase 3.9 percent in Miami-Dade and 5.5 percent in Broward this year.
The trend is driven by the most basic of economic factors: Cost. “The housing market is still priced high and people looking into buying a home are being priced out,” said Kirk Felici, Marcus and Millichap’s first vice president and regional manager of the Miami office.
Even young professionals are moving to the suburbs, because they get more for their money. A recent survey by Apartmentlist.com found that 87 percent of South Florida millennials said they can’t afford to buy a home, and 26 percent said they expect to always rent. It’s a reality that’s making some rental developers cater to a millennial-focused lifestyle that opens the door to services like grocery delivery and on-demand fitness.
For Jordan Galeas, 21, who moved into West Miami’s Soleste Club Prado in August, it was location, amenities and the management office that won him over. He is a student at Miami Dade College’s InterAmerican campus who also works fulltime and his roommate attends Florida International University.
I wanted new and very fashionable, something that looked luxurious but affordable, and I wanted an amazing staff.
Jordan Galeas, resident of Soleste Club Prado in West Miami
“I wanted new and very fashionable, something that looked luxurious but affordable, and I wanted an amazing staff,” said Galeas. “The pool and barbecue areas are great for hanging out … and the apartments are to die for, especially the kitchens. They are amazing.”
The Estate Companies is involved in four other luxury apartment projects in West Miami, a tiny city just west of Coral Gables. ln addition to the 196-unit Soleste Club Prado that opened in June, the 206-unit Soleste West Gables opened last year. The 221-unit Soleste West Gables II now under construction and two others are on the runway, Suris said.
“We try to find isolated pockets that are underserved,” said Suris. “West Miami is really the center of Miami-Dade County but had been passed over by developers. ….836 and 826 are a mile away. We are very close to Blue Lagoon, MIA, the west side of the airport, the hospital district and the Doral area.”
Soleste Club Prado, at 950 SW 57th Ave. near an entrance to Coral Gables, has a residential feel, with pretty streets to jog along and new restaurants popping up. Amenities include a gym, steam rooms, recreation room, high-end stainless steel appliances and a rooftop serenity garden. In the common areas, scents waft through the AC systems accompanying music that promotes relaxation. Its one- to three-bedroom apartments rent for $1,680 to $3,475.
“When you are inside our building, it feels like you are in Brickell or Miami Beach. It’s sexy. It’s modern,” Suris said.
The company’s next target: Palmetto Bay.
It’s a community, not just an apartment where you live.
Carmen Sofia, resident of Atlantico at Miramar
In Broward’s Miramar, Carmen Sofia, 30, moved in this month to Atlantico, paying $1,500 for a one-bedroom apartment. Recently married, she and her husband liked the location (he works in Doral and she works in Pompano Beach). And, she said, it was a big step up from the Doral apartment complex she lived in for two years and didn’t even know her neighbors.
With the pool and barbecue area, clubhouse, poker room, yoga and Zumba, she said, “it’s a community, not just an apartment where you live.” Atlantico is designed so the neighbors get to know each other, she said. At the dog park, for instance, “the dogs can socialize and you are going to have to talk to the owner.”
Atlantico at Miramar, at 12121 SW 43rd St., offers one- to three-bedroom units with millennial-inspired touches such as a media lounge with social bar, terrace with outdoor pool table, an outdoor kitchen, a playground and a sports field.
“We focus our attention on the design quality of our amenities for the clubhouse, pool area, open space areas as well as the quality of material and design we select for our apartments,” because that’s what tenants want, said Michael Getz, director of development for FCI Residential, via an e-mail.
Apartments range from 800 square feet to 1,269 square feet with rents from $1,505 to $1,985. All come with valet trash service, said Getz. In addition to Atlantico at Miramar, FCI’s South Florida properties that are open include The Park at Kendall, Atlantico at Tuscany, Siena at Tuscany, Atlantico at Kendall and Toscana in Margate.
Atlantico at Miramar offers millennial-inspired touches such as a media lounge with social bar, terrace with outdoor pool table and a sports field.
Marisol Infante, 44, was looking for a new home for herself and her two children and found what she wanted in Kendall, at the Azura. The clincher: the attentive staff and the living room-like two-level clubroom with a TV area, computers, conference room, demonstration kitchen and nearby fitness center. She is paying $1,830 for a 2 bedroom.
Located at 12755 SW 136th St. in Kendall, the 240-unit Azura is close to the Florida Turnpike, dining and shopping. Its studios to three -bedroom luxury apartments range from 732 to 1,358 square feet and rent for $1,575 to $2,100.
Richman Signature Properties, Azura’s developer, also developed a number of upscale properties in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Davie. It is set to open Portico in Sunrise by the end of the year with urban lofts, one- to three-bedroom units, a meditation room, on-demand fitness classes, electric car charging station, and a bark park.
Richman is among the developers catering to millennials and GenXers who seek more than just a place to rest their heads. They want social connectivity.
Richman complexes host a variety of clubs – for wine tasters, runners and readers, for instance.
Richman complexes host a variety of clubs – for wine tasters, runners and readers, for instance. It also is partnering with popular brands such as interior design firm Laurel & Wolf, Fitbit, grocery delivery service Shipt, Neiman Marcus, and nearby bars and restaurants, said Kristen Gucwa, vice president of national lease-up operations and marketing for Richman Signature Properties.
Another touch: Encouraging residents to pick out colors for accent walls in their units, which the development will paint. “Living in an apartment can feel very temporary. We wanted to strip away that stigma,” said Gucwa.
Residents can reserve a conference room to host meetings or put together a presentation. Events like Yappy Hours, cooking demonstrations and food truck rallies help bring people together, she said. “Sometimes our residents come to us, such as a resident who wanted to put together a bike club. It takes on a life of its own,” she said.
“We’re starting to see people looking to sell their homes so they can start renting,” Gucwa said. “That’s an interesting trend.”
Nancy Dahlberg: 305-376-3595, @ndahlberg.