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(Read more on the multifamily market.)

TAMPA BAY, FL-While the original plans for the Preserve at Alafia called for luxury condominiums at the waterfront community, Garrison Developer Group of Florida has switched gears and is now developing a luxury rental community. Local housing needs and market fundamentals spurred the decision, according to Rey Ortega, president of GDG.

“This decision was not just a gut call,” Ortega explains in announcing the decision. “We moved into final plans for the project just as the subprime credit issue reared up and indicated the population of the US was more likely to be renters in the future. We took a step back and rapidly executed a new feasibility study for the project.”

As part of the feasibility study, Tampa-based GDG held focus groups to determine the shape of the Hillsborough County residential market and assess the needs of the community in suburban Tampa. The developer discovered an overwhelming desire for upscale, resort-like luxury apartments, GDG execs explain.

“The number of new apartment units being permitted annually are far below the new arrivals to the markets,” Ortega says. “Over the past decade developers have focused on building residences, from single family to condominiums. Because of the apartment shortage, rents are predicted to rise in the coming years.”

Set to rise next to the Alafia River nature preserve and Interstate 75, the luxury waterfront rental community will contain 351 apartments. The Preserve at Alafia will encompass five buildings. Community amenities will include docks and canoe/kayak storage, a yoga pavilion, business center, big screen theater room, pool and sand volleyball court.

“We believe this change to the project is optimally suited to the Tampa Bay area. We know it will drive a large, affluent population to the retail and professional space at Alafia Crossing,” Ortega adds.

The Preserve at Alafia is in conjunction with Alafia Crossing, a mixed-use development which includes more than 40,000 sf of retail, 20,000 sf of office, 10,000 sf of fine dining, and a Holiday Inn hotel. A previous GlobeSt.com report pegged Alafia Crossing development costs at $180 million.

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