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(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of Real Estate Florida.)

ORLANDO, FL-Lane Florida, a company created by Atlanta-based Lane Co. two years ago to manage development within the Sunshine State, has begun leasing its near-finished Verano Apartment Homes at 2200 Villa Verano Way in Osceola County. The $50-million project is the first of three communities Lane plans to complete over the next two years.

“The apartment market remains strong, and we have the platform to deliver a quality product to meet the growing demand,” says Lane Florida regional development partner Mike Mulhall. “We are located in a very convenient place to live,” right off Florida’s Turnpike in proximity to Orlando’s major theme parks, he says. A new grocery store is being built adjacent to Verano, along with local shopping and dining options that will appeal to people who choose to live in that area, he adds.

Rentals rates at the 384-unit, 15-building project range from $790 to $1,200 for one- to three-bedroom apartments. Amenities include a resort-style pool, a fitness center, a children’s playroom and a business center. Some tenants have already moved into two completed buildings on the property and have use of the completed clubhouse, says Mulhall. Construction on the entire project will be complete by February 2009. Leasing efforts have just begun and traffic has been strong, according to Lane, but the company is not yet ready to release the number of apartments rented.

Lane Florida also has a 19-story luxury rental community under construction in Downtown Orlando called Montage. The 183-unit development will feature rental rates from $1,300 to $2,000, and is set for completion in 20 months. A $50-million, six-story development in the Westshore district of Tampa is also under construction and slated for completion in 16 months, says Mulhall.

Orlando’s apartment inventory stood at 146,280 units with areawide occupancy just under 90% at midyear, according to research by Cushman & Wakefield of Florida. The brokerage projects that occupancy levels will rise through the remainder of this year, with new supply estimated at 2,750 units and demand projected between 5,000 and 5,500 units.

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