Market for luxury apartments in Murfreesboro increases

Michelle Willard, the Daily News Journal, February 9, 2015

TDK

Last year, apartment rent prices in Nashville were among some of the fastest-growing in the nation, according to a report from real estate services firm Colliers International.

The average monthly rent for an apartment in the region rose to $864 during the three months ended in December, up from about $822 a year earlier, according to a report.

The rising prices in Nashville has opened up a market in Rutherford County for high-end, luxury apartments, officials said.

“You can live in an apartment like in the Gulch but for cheaper,” said Ross Bradley, vice president of Development for TDK Construction Company. “We think there is a market for that here.”

TDK is building 3343 Memorial, a luxury, gated apartment complex near the intersection of Thompson Lane and Memorial Boulevard.

3343 Memorial is made up of 241 units in three multi-story main buildings.  The complex features a clubhouse, fitness room, business center, pool and elevator.

“It’s more an urban-type, livable community,” Bradley said.

The units are available in one-, two- or three-bedroom varieties and feature high-end finishes.  They will rent for $800-$1,500 per month.

Justin Bryan, property manager at 3343 Memorial, said the complex fills a void in the rental market in Murfreesboro.

“Everything recently has been built on the west or south side of town.  It was needed on this side of town,” Bryan said.

TDK isn’t the only construction company that thinks Rutherford County is ripe for more Class A apartment space.

Developer Lifestyle Communities is nearing completion of Henley Station, a 403-unit apartment complex on 20.36 acres along Robert Rose Drive between Wilkinson Pike and Medical Center Parkway across from The Avenue.

And R.E. Carroll Management Company, a developer out of South Carolina, proposed last February building an apartment complex near The Avenue between Robert Rose Drive and Interstate 24.

Called Everwood at The Avenue, the proposed complex would be 336 units housed in 24 three-story buildings with a one story clubhouse.  The lifestyle community went through its initial design review but was withdrawn last spring.

These proposed and constructed complexes are a symptom of a larger trend.

As the economy has been picking up from the Great Recession, millennials have delayed moving out on their own and creating new households, officials said.

That means millions of young adults, and also empty nesters, are looking for prime rental opportunities.

The Census Bureau said in late January that the U.S. added 1.3 million occupied housing units in the fourth quarter and 1.7 million in 2014, mostly because of new renters.  That’s up from an average of 570,000 units a year from 2007 to 2013 — about half the normal rate, based on population growth.

The increased demand has meant a 10 percent increase in apartment complexes and a 15 percent increase in the number of rentable units built in the county over the past five years, Rutherford County Property Assessor Rob Mitchell said.

“At the end of 2008, there were 156 complexes, at the end of 2014 it’s 173. Total units at the end of 2008 was 16,232; 2,466 were added in the next five years for a total of 18,698,” Mitchell said.

Multi-family unit permits in Murfreesboro jumped from 889 in 2013 to 913 in 2014.  In 2013, multi-family units permitted more than doubled to 889 units from 464 units in 2012.

And those new apartments are getting filled.

According to data from Murfreesboro 2035 Comprehensive Plan, 44.8 percent of the population rents in Murfreesboro and 35.8 percent rents in Smyrna.  Murfreesboro’s rental rate is similar to other college towns, like Athens, Georgia; Asheville, North Carolina; and Charlottesville, Virginia.

More telling is the number of owner-occupied homes that decreased from 52.3 percent to 47.7 percent from 2000 to 2014 in Murfreesboro as the number of renter-occupied homes increased from 40.2 percent to 44.8 percent.

Bradley said his company’s statistics show the city’s rental units are 95 percent occupied.

He said Murfreesboro, in particular, is ready for more housing like 3343 Memorial.

“I think the fact you have job drivers in the area … and the drive for more white-collar jobs has created a demand,” Bradley said.

He said complexes like his appeal primarily to post-college young professionals, older single adults and down-sizing retirees because of its amenities and low maintenance.

And if the Census Bureau is right, Rutherford County could see more developments like 3343 Memorial and Henley Station in the future.

Contact Michelle Willard at 615-278-5164 or mwillard@dnj.com. Follow her on Twitter @MichWillard.

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