In the quiet, suburban reaches of South Florida, a development boom of its own kind is forming.
A short drive from the urban bustle of Fort Lauderdale and about 30 minutes north of Miami, southwest Broward County is seeing a flurry of high-end rental and mixed-use projects.
Developers are working to capitalize on demand from younger, affluent families drawn by strong public school systems and amenities designed to appeal to their lifestyles, with new and renovated suburban communities on large plots of land. In the southwest Broward market — including Davie, Plantation, Pembroke Pines, Sunrise and Miramar — there are 71 multi-family properties boasting roughly 23,100 apartments in existence, according to data from real estate firm CBRE.
In the first half of the year, there were 2,443 sales of single-family homes in that region, with an average sales price of $359,538, Multiple Listing Service figures show. While the number of sales rose just 3.6 percent over the first six months of 2013, average sales price shot up 27 percent, from $283,462.
“The quality of the developments this cycle is much better than in the previous cycle,” Robert Given, vice chairman at CBRE in Fort Lauderdale, told The Real Deal. “Amenities used to consist of a small gym and a swimming pool. Now there are parallels between these apartment buildings and a luxury hotel environment, with state-of-the-art gym equipment and 1,000-square-foot clubhouses.”
Gyms and clubhouses are just where the amenities start. Boca Raton-based developer the Altman Companies’ Altis at Sheraton Village, for instance, a 300-unit rental development in Pembroke Pines, offers tenants organic garden plots that include composters, a dog park and a soccer field.
Meanwhile, the larger community boasts the Shops at Pembroke Gardens, a luxury retail complex that “serves as more of an extension of Miami than eastern Broward County,” Given said.
The Related Group and Mill Creek Residential are separately developing residences at the Pembroke Pines City Center project — 365 and 700 units respectively. Mill Creek’s first phase, 422-unit townhouse-and-rental community Modera Pembroke Pines, was completed last year. Modera is 97 percent occupied, according to a Mill Creek spokesperson.
Broward is also drawing some companies that are following their employees out of Miami, Given said. Financial services giant American Express plans to build a 400,000-square-foot regional headquarters in Sunrise on 40 acres to consolidate its South Florida operations.
Two rental communities — Jefferson Apartment Group’s 252-unit Jefferson at Monterra in Cooper City and the Related Group’s 197-unit the Manor in Plantation — are almost fully leased after opening late last year, Given said.
To accommodate the growing population, the state and municipalities are plowing ahead with several infrastructure projects. I-75 is undergoing its first expansion since it was built in the 1980s, while I-595 is gaining four express lanes.
“Each of the cities are trying to create cores,” Given said.
In Sunrise, several large-scale developments are going up in the area surrounding the Sawgrass Mills shopping center. AMLI Residential is bringing 327 rentals to the area with AMLI Sawgrass Village, a two-building complex sitting on six acres at 3001 Northwest 130th Terrace. Leasing is expected to launch early next year. AMLI also owns a high-end rental complex of similar size, called Miramar Park, in Miramar.
Chicago-based real estate investment trust Equity Residential opened a mid-rise rental complex last year called Nexus Sawgrass, formerly known as Sunrise Village, at 2903 Northwest 130th Avenue. Equity paid $11 million for the 22-acre site in 2010.
Metropica is about a decade away from completion, but the mixed-use project is expected to play a major role in Sunrise’s makeover. The 4 million-square-foot, 65-acre development west of Sawgrass Mills shopping center is set to hold roughly 2,200 apartments — both condos and rentals — as well as 500,000 square feet of retail space and 150,000 square feet of office space.
The developers also promise a 2-acre public park with biking and walking trails, a children’s play area, and a transit hub. Sunrise commissioners unanimously approved the $1 billion project in July.
Apartment sizes will run between 700 square feet and 2,200 square feet. Sales prices for units at the first tower will range from $300,000 to $1 million. One Sotheby’s International Realty will be handling sales.
“Not everyone wants to live downtown,” said Joseph Kavana of Trillist Companies, which is developing Metropica.
“We wouldn’t be able to offer these amenities in a big city because you just wouldn’t have the space to do it.”