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ORLANDO-Zom Inc., an established multifamily developer, is going first class with the Oct. 1 opening of the Waverly, a $45 milion, 22-story, 230-unit Downtown apartment community at 322 E. Central Blvd. The project is Downtown’s first high-rise apartment tower in 16 years and is 30% pre-leased.

The development cost of $195,652 per unit is about equal to the construction value of class A area hotels built recently or in the planning stage, construction industry estimators tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity. The Waverly has a 394-car garage.

Locally based Zom is targeting tenants from Downtown’s 60,000 office work force. The developer’s research finds 40% of the Downtown workers earn at least $50,000 per year.

That’s why average asking rents for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit are $1,739 per month. Comparable class A average area rents are $1,200 per month. Five penthouse units have rents ranging to $9,000 per month. The Waverly’s average rent is $1,900 per month.

The last Downtown apartment tower completed was the 20-story, 92-unit, 530 East Central Boulevard Condominiums built by DCC Constructors of suburban Longwood, FL in 1985. The 20-story Park Lake Towers on east Colonial Drive was built in 1972.

Zom officials couldn’t be reached for comment at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline. But area brokers say the key question for Zom is are there enough qualified tenants to fill the Waverly.

“I think there are,” an independent Downtown multifamily development consultant tells GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity. “I don’t think Zom and its investment associates would sink $45 million into a project that couldn’t pay for itself.”

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