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DELRAY BEACH, FL-With vacant land for development dwindling in South Florida, some residential developers are turning their attention to infill sites.

One such developer is Miami-based Seacoast Construction Inc., which is planning to begin construction in February on a $20-million, 46-unit condominium and townhome project called Miraflores at 135 SE 1st Ave. The project will contain 30 condominiums and 16 townhomes in buildings that range from three to five stories. Prices for the units range from $380,000 to $750,000. The project is expected to be completed in spring 2008.

“If you stay in South Florida, there will be few alternatives left for development,” Seacoast Construction Inc. president George Abadie tells GlobeSt.com.

The project is two blocks south of Atlantic Avenue, which the city has been working to redevelop over the past several years and is home to a variety of shops, restaurants and other attractions. Abadie says that projects such as Miraflores are becoming attractive because of the scarcity of available land in suburban areas, but also because of changing demographics. There are a variety of potential buyers who are seeking housing in downtown areas in close proximity to amenities. These buyers range from younger, affluent professionals who work in the area to older buyers seeking second homes.

“There are buyers who are attracted to the area because they want to be close to Atlantic Avenue and they want to be close to the beach,” Abadie explains.

Although infill developments are becoming more attractive, they can also be challenging. Developers must address issues unique to downtown sites, which often they do not face in suburban areas with large, vacant parcels. Among ways to tackle those challenges are studying the site prior to development. Close attention must be paid to the former uses of the site, which may require environmental remediation if it was formerly used as an industrial site. “I’ve been in situations where the land was vacant, but it was used 20 years ago for industrial purposes and was contaminated,” Abadie says.

Developers must also conduct feasibility studies to determine the best and most appropriate development for the site, while also ensuring the density required to make a project economically feasible. Many cities have master plans which guide development in downtown locations or have community redevelopment agencies to assist developers with projects. “As a developer you try to acclimate yourself to the area and to the existing architecture,” he says. “We want to be consistent with the character of the neighborhood.”

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