(Carl Cronan is editor of RealEstateFlorida.)

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JACKSONVILLE, FL-Strong growth projections are making this citya good bet for commercial real estate investors seeking value inrental apartment properties, according to multifamily brokers. Atthe same time, the inventory of new and existing units in themetropolitan area appears to be increasing.

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Two garden-style apartment complexes are being brought to markettotaling 560 units along Crossing Boulevard in the Orange Parksubmarket of Jacksonville. The class B properties, Mariners Wharfand Bridgewater at Wells Crossing, are expected to sell for $55million or just above $98,000 per unit, either combined orseparately, according to Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.

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"Given the significant discount that the values represent incomparison to current replacement costs, both properties should bevery appealing to a savvy investor," says Jeff Morris, JLL managingdirector. Both complexes were built in the late 1980s and have acombined occupancy rate of 93%, he says.

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A recent report by Walchle-Lear Multifamily Advisors states thatapartment occupancy in Jacksonville has declined slightly over thepast year, to 89% from 92%. Five new apartment complexes totalingjust over 1,000 units have been completed so far this year,compared with 13 complexes with 3,200 units throughout 2007.

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"Jacksonville's strong population growth, formidable jobcreation and bright economic outlook will continue to encourageactivity within the multifamily investment market," the reportstated. Walchle-Lear also records $143 million in apartment complexsales through the first half of this year.

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