(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of RealEstate Florida.)

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ORLANDO, FL-Lane Florida, a company created by Atlanta-basedLane Co. two years ago to manage development within the SunshineState, has begun leasing its near-finished Verano Apartment Homesat 2200 Villa Verano Way in Osceola County. The $50-million projectis the first of three communities Lane plans to complete over thenext two years.

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"The apartment market remains strong, and we have the platformto deliver a quality product to meet the growing demand," says LaneFlorida regional development partner Mike Mulhall. "We are locatedin a very convenient place to live," right off Florida's Turnpikein proximity to Orlando's major theme parks, he says. A new grocerystore is being built adjacent to Verano, along with local shoppingand dining options that will appeal to people who choose to live inthat area, he adds.

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Rentals rates at the 384-unit, 15-building project range from$790 to $1,200 for one- to three-bedroom apartments. Amenitiesinclude a resort-style pool, a fitness center, a children'splayroom and a business center. Some tenants have already movedinto two completed buildings on the property and have use of thecompleted clubhouse, says Mulhall. Construction on the entireproject will be complete by February 2009. Leasing efforts havejust begun and traffic has been strong, according to Lane, but thecompany is not yet ready to release the number of apartmentsrented.

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Lane Florida also has a 19-story luxury rental community underconstruction in Downtown Orlando called Montage. The 183-unitdevelopment will feature rental rates from $1,300 to $2,000, and isset for completion in 20 months. A $50-million, six-storydevelopment in the Westshore district of Tampa is also underconstruction and slated for completion in 16 months, saysMulhall.

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Orlando's apartment inventory stood at 146,280 units withareawide occupancy just under 90% at midyear, according to researchby Cushman & Wakefield of Florida. The brokerage projects thatoccupancy levels will rise through the remainder of this year, withnew supply estimated at 2,750 units and demand projected between5,000 and 5,500 units.

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