Luxury Rental Community to Rise at Key Orlando Gateway

Many claim the most sought multifamily settings of the future will be in or near city centers, close to public transit and within walking distance of local amenities. If so, the Steel House Apartments is nicely positioned to meet renting priorities.

By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer

Orlando, Fla.—Many claim the most eagerly sought multifamily settings of the future will be in or near city centers, close to public transit and well within hoofing distance of all the amenities renters desire. If so, the Steel House Apartments, being built on the edge of central Orlando, is nicely positioned to meet tomorrow‘s renting priorities.

Ground was broken December 6 on the Steel House Apartments, a $40 million, four-story luxury development featuring 328 one- and two-bedroom units. Developed by Atlanta-based Pollack Shores Real Estate Group, it is expected to be open by fall 2012, and entirely complete by February 2013.

Leading the list of attributes likely to appeal to renters is its convenient location.

“We are right at the northern end of downtown Orlando, directly adjacent to the future SunRail,” Pollack Shores managing director of development Michael Blair tells MHN. “That’s a commuter rail line that will link parts of metro Orlando, and is expected to start service in the next several years. And we’re only two blocks north of Lynx Central Station, the central transit bus area for metro Orlando.”
The Steel House Apartments is also adjacent to the Urban Trail, a pedestrian way that ribbons through Orlando, and beckons to walkers, runners and bikers. The development of the Steel House Apartments allows for a 25-foot-wide easement along the western edge of the property, to provide a segment of the trail connecting to the new apartments, Blair says.

Yet another geographic advantage possessed by the site is that it is located at Colonial Dr. and Orange Ave., which city officials see as the northern gateway into downtown Orlando and its central business district.

“The echo boomers want to be in downtown rental markets, with easy access to transit,” Blair says. “And they want to be in more efficient residences, but be able to take advantage of amenities such as our clubroom with Wi-Fi, pool room with Wi-Fi and fitness center, all very high tech, and very efficient.”

Echo boomers comprise a prime demographic Pollack Shores Real Estate Group is hoping to attract to the Steel House Apartments. But the company also believes it will lure as well a wide range of early-to-mid-20s to mid-40s renters working in town who don’t want to be entirely dependent on their cars, Blair says.

“It may be singles, it may be people traveling to Orlando on business who need a work-related apartment. And there may be some reverse commuters, folks working outside Orlando, but wanting to come home to all Orlando offers.”

The community is being built on a redeveloped brownfield that previously was home to small commercial-industrial buildings and single-family homes, Blair says. “There was some environmental work occurring as we purchased the property, and since then we’ve put it into the brownfield program and continued with a very manageable remediation. That challenge we knew about going in.”

Blair notes that even though there has been considerable movement and momentum related to multifamily residential in recent years, “it’s still not easy to finance a development like this.” As a result, Pollack Shores relied on existing relationships with its bankers and capital partners to get the deal done.

Ask Pollack Shores representatives about the greatest benefit the development is likely to provide Orlando, and they will almost certainly cite its expected economic impact of $64 million over several years.

That impact will flow from opening up the key northern gateway intersection to multifamily residential, and from all the construction jobs generated during its building, and the additional jobs it will spawn after completion. “The economic impact will reach far beyond just building the apartments,” Blair says.

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