The developers of Miami-Dade’s first condo building catering exclusively to a university have changed their minds.
University Bridge Residences, the planned 20-story condo tower at 740 SW 109th Ave. to house students and faculty of the Florida International University Tamiami campus, is being converted into rental apartments instead.
The project, which was announced last year, will offer a total of 886 units, ranging in size from studios to four-bedroom apartments.
Originally, nearly half of the building — 492 units — was being sold as condos priced from $190,000 to nearly $700,000 and available for purchase by anyone, including non-students. More than 150 units had already been sold by Cervera Real Estate, the exclusive broker on the project.
But Brian Pearl, principal and co-founder of Global City Development, said he and the two Toronto firms partnering on the project decided to switch to an all-rental model based on two factors: The new tax reform laws, which reduce corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 21 percent and could save companies millions of dollars, and a sizzling rental market in South Florida.
“It is unusual to make this kind of change after a project is underway,” Pearl said. “But the rental market has been getting stronger and stronger since we did the initial underwriting. And the change in tax laws at the end of last year had a substantial effect on our decision to hold the asset longterm instead of selling it to individual buyers.”
According to the March 2018 report by Abodo, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Miami-Dade is $1,832 and two-bedrooms go for $2,447 — both above the national median rates of $1,038 and $1,257, respectively.
Because they are designed to house students and roommates, rents in the new building will be determined by the number of bedrooms instead of square footage. Rents will range from $1,500 for one-bedroom units to $1,000 per bedroom for four-bedroom units.
The building will include 600 parking spaces and 7,200 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.
Buyers who had put 20 percent down on a unit in the building will receive a full refund plus interest.
“We understand that developers have to make the best financial decisions available to them,” Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, managing partner and principal of Cervera Real Estate, said in a statement. “While we are disappointed that the units will not be sold as condominiums … we are glad to see the project still going ahead and filling the obvious need in the marketplace for student housing.”
Groundbreaking on University Bridge Residences is scheduled for June, with a targeted completion date of 2020, in time for the 2020-2021 fall semester.
Nearly 8 percent of the 42,000 students at the FIU Tamiami campus live in housing owned, operated or affiliated with the university, such as the 15-story 109 Tower building at 737 SW 109th Ave.