Developer Asi Cymbal waited more than two years to get the go-ahead to build the Marina Lofts apartment complex (pictured above) south of downtown Fort Lauderdale’s New River.
Downtown residents, officials and stakeholders have waited much longer for the area to realize its potential as a 24-hour urban destination on par with its metropolitan neighbor to the south. That time may be coming.
Cymbal’s 856-unit Marina Lofts is one of numerous multifamily downtown developments under construction or in the pipeline. Proponents hope the increased critical mass from the new communities complement a large professional population and major public projects — like the Broward County Courthouse under construction and Broward Center for the Performing Arts improvements — to help create a vibrant inner city.
“Downtown is definitely becoming more dynamic,” Cymbal said. “We as a community need more options for everyone though.”
Cymbal and other residential developers believe the downtown market has a paucity of affordable and efficient apartments that are still considered high-end quality. Marina Lofts will have a heavy concentration of studio and one-bedroom units at the nearly 6-acre site at 400-420 SW Third Ave. and 424 SW Fourth Ave.
Such units would ideally attract students from nearby Broward College and Florida Atlantic University and young professionals who work downtown.
“The key to that is cutting back in size and keeping rents lower than what you would typically see as compared to a bigger-sized unit,” Cymbal said. “You don’t necessarily need to pay for all of that space.”
Marina Lofts also includes several restaurants, more than 200 boat slips on the New River and a Water Taxi stop. Cymbal’s company also plans to improve portions of the Riverwalk.
PLENTY OF PROJECTS
Near Marina Lofts, Related Group Inc. is building the 249-unit New River Yacht Club apartments. The 400 SW First Ave. project is scheduled for a spring 2014 completion, according to Related’s website.
To the north, Fort Lauderdale’s Flagler Village is also experiencing a multifamily influx. Related is building the nearly 390-unit Flagler Village on North Federal Highway between Northeast Fifth and Sixth streets; the Morgan Group Inc. of Houston is constructing the 331-unit Pearl at Flagler Village at 525 NE Fifth Terrace and Ellis Diversified Inc. of Fort Lauderdale is building the 386-unit One20Fourth at 120 NE Fourth St.
And on Southeast Eighth Street and Third Avenue, affordable housing builder Pinnacle Housing Group LLC has approval for Pinnacle at Tarpon River, a 112-unit complex with 100 affordable units.
Cymbal, Related and others are seeking to capitalize on both the downtown’s potential upside and the impact of last decade’s housing collapse, according to Deme Mekras, a Miami-based regional managing partner at Franklin Street Real Estate LLC. Since the bust, many would-be homeowners now are part of the rental pool.
“I expect the new product being built in Fort Lauderdale’s urban core to be well-received and leased-up strongly,” Mekras said. “A lot of folks are gravitating towards the benefits of renting and having access to the amenities within the complex and surrounding area as it relates to dining and shopping.”