Luxury apartments—multi-family communities on the flip side of affordable housing—are rising in popularity in Southwest Florida to meet high-end demand. But what exactly does luxury mean today when it comes to apartment life?
“To me, when you look at what defines something as luxury, it’s a variety of things,” says Keith Gelder, president of Naples-based Stock Development’s Luxury Apartment Living division. “The most recognizable things are the clubhouse and amenities, the finishes on the units, high-visibility, high-touch kind of items.”
For instance, Stock is upgrading all of its kitchens with quartz countertops and high-end, stainless steel appliance packages. “We stand out in amenities pretty significantly,” Gelder says. “We’ve built some of the larger pools. We try to stay on the cutting edge as far as amenities.”
Stock’s Allura luxury apartment community under construction on Livingston Road at Veterans Memorial Boulevard in North Naples will have a bowling alley and a golf simulator. Stock properties also accentuate outdoor living with amenities such as putting greens, grilling stations and outdoor bar areas, Gelder said.
“We are introducing dog spas (with a pet wash and groomers), which is something you see in the new projects,” he says. “We try to embrace pets with dog parks on all the properties.”
Luxury is part of Stock’s branding and image, Gelder said. “It’s part of our brand identity. It’s part of our tagline. That’s why we use it.”
Naples-based Barron Collier Companies (BCC) has participated in joint venture development partnerships that include multifamily luxury projects such as Murano at Three Oaks in Fort Myers. BCC partnered with CC Residential to build Addison Place, a multi-family development on the northwest corner of Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard in North Naples. On the southeast corner of that same intersection, The Pearl Founders Square apartments are under construction as part of BCC’s Founders Square development.
Branding apartments as luxury housing is a way for developers to step up in a competitive market, said Barron Collier Companies CEO Blake Gable.
“From an apartment standpoint, you have a lot of people trying to stand out,” Gable says. “It’s one of those things where you are trying to let the market know the amenities are going to be great and the apartments are well-appointed.”
Of course, upscale amenities usually translate to upscale rents. The Pearl’s rental prices range from $2,474 per month for a one-bedroom 684-square-foot studio apartment to $4,244 per month for a three-bedroom/two-bathroom 1,535-square-foot apartment.
The Pearl’s floor plans offer high-end features and sleek finishes, such as 10-foot ceilings, wood-finish flooring, large walk-in closets and gourmet kitchens with stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops and custom Shaker-style cabinetry with wine racks. The community of 400 apartments also features two resort-style pools with cabanas, a two-story state-of-the-art fitness center, golf simulator lounge, gourmet coffee bar, cinema room and cyber lounge.
Proximity to restaurants and retailers makes a difference, too, and is considered an amenity. Some apartments are built in conjunction with an adjacent retail project, such as Stock Development’s Corsa at Estero Crossing and Citria at Fruitville Commons. “It really makes a difference,” says Claudine Leger-Wetzel, vice president of sales and marketing for Stock Development.
“I think when we say luxury, it’s a lot about the social component of living in a rental apartment,” says Leger-Wetzel, noting that Stock was the first to offer outdoor tiki bars. “We created this outdoor living component where people can meet, eat and socialize.”
At Corsa, under construction off Corkscrew Road in Estero, the two-story clubhouse is nearly 17,000 square feet under air, Leger-Wetzel said. Amenities include full-size bowling lanes, a golf simulator/movie theater with a sports lounge, a recreation deck with a covered veranda, green space with walking trails, an indoor pet spa, electric car charging stations and a nearly 88,000-gallon resort-style pool with an expansive sun deck.
“As a business model for Stock, it makes a lot of sense for us. We have three projects in the works and we are anticipating more,” she says.
Since homebuilder Stock jumped into the luxury apartments market in 2014 with the development of Spectra in south Fort Myers, the company has completed more than 1,200 units in Southwest Florida. All have a high occupancy rate, Gelder said.
“We are seeing more apartment construction than we ever have,” he says. “The demand is there. All the developers are catering toward high-end products, trying to capture that same market. We have another 2,000 units in the pipeline to deliver over the next couple of years.”