Watermark Residential Begins Alabama Development

The firm expects to complete the 324-unit FarmHaus by Watermark in Huntsville, Ala., by late 2021.
FarmHaus by Watermark. Image courtesy of Watermark Residential

Watermark Residential is expanding its Huntsville, Ala., area holdings with the ground-up development of a 324-unit Class A community on 22.5 newly acquired acres in a suburb of the fast-growing city. Construction has started on FarmHaus by Watermark, which will be built in a single phase and is slated for completion in late 2021.

The project is the first of six to be funded by Watermark 3G Development Fund II, which closed in late 2019.

Watermark Residential, a wholly owned affiliate of Thompson Thrift and one of the nation’s largest multifamily developers, will build nine three-story buildings with one-, two- and three-bedroom units and a clubhouse. Community amenities will include a 24-hour fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment, resort-style swimming pool with cabana and a bark park. Located at 1150 Balch Road in Madison, Ala., it is immediately adjacent to the 550-acre mixed-use Clift Farm development. FarmHaus by Watermark will also be within walking distance of a newly developed Publix-anchored retail center and multiple dining options.

It will be the company’s second multifamily asset in the Huntsville market. Watermark at Bridge Street Town Centre, a 244-unit Class A multifamily community at 6854 Governors West NW in Huntsville, was completed in 2019 and is 86 percent occupied.

Growing Metro

Paul Thrift, president & CEO of Thompson Thrift and Watermark Residential, said in a prepared statement the Huntsville area is experiencing tremendous population growth and demand for quality multifamily properties outpaces the supply. Thrift noted that Huntsville is expected to soon surpass both Birmingham, Ala., and Montgomery, Ala., to become the largest city in Alabama. Watermark Residential, which has developed more than 11,000 homes across 13 states, focuses on markets with rapid job growth, increased rental demand and barriers to new supply. 

In November, Huntsville was identified by Yardi Matrix as one of the top five multifamily markets for growth in the United States, placing third on the list for its high-tech jobs with major employees in aerospace, defense, medical, education and telecommunications.

U.S. News & World Report cited Huntsville as the fastest-growing metropolitan area in Alabama and the 11th best place to live in the United States. More than 62 percent of the jobs in Alabama during the past decade were generated in the Huntsville area and more are coming. Toyota and Mazda are scheduled to begin production next year in a $1.6 billion assembly plant expected to generate 4,000 direct and 5,500 indirect jobs. Facebook has invested $750 million in a local data center and Aerojet Rockeydyne recently completed construction on a manufacturing facility that will have about 800 employees. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is expanding at the nearby U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal, adding 1,350 employees by 2021 and up to 5,000 more jobs in the future.