South Florida developers are putting the ‘urban’ in suburban living

By Nicole Martinez, Crain's Miami

The high cost of prime downtown real estate has priced many South Florida home buyers out of the market. As developers turn to the region’s suburban enclaves to build new, more affordable projects, many are asking themselves why they can’t bring downtown living to the outskirts.

“People want connectivity among neighborhoods, but they also want neighborhoods to have several components,” said David Martin, president of real estate development firm Terra Group. “Residents want to live in communities where there are good schools, parks, retail, walkability and culture and we’re finding that you don’t necessarily have to go downtown to find it.”

Martin, along with several major real estate developers like Related Development and Codina Partners, are working on the growing need for more affordable real estate options that are close to work and close to great schools. While still offering that urban feel so many residents crave.

So what’s driving development of these new frontiers? Affordability, proximity to work and the ability to quickly reach major shopping and entertainment centers is a major draw, said Martin. “People are living in smaller spaces due to affordability, they’re not really interested in spending hours in traffic getting to work, and there’s a much stronger need for these outdoor experiences,” he said. Terra’s Pines City Center project in the Broward County community of Pembroke Pines, a 17-acre project encompassing multifamily apartments, retail and restaurant space anchored by major retailers.

Martin said that Terra’s multifamily apartments will range in price from about $1,600 for a one-bedroom to around $2,800 for a three bedroom – a staggering difference from the average rental rates in urban centers. For example, multifamily residential tower Midtown Five offers one-bedroom units starting at $2,100, and the building’s three-bedroom units can rent for up to $5,300.