By Cecil G. Brumley
Trying to gauge the multi-family housing market in Volusia County is like looking into an unlit room.
Even if you think there's space in the room to put more stuff, you're never sure. None of the county's largest apartment managers reveal their occupancy rates, so how well the market is doing is difficult to determine.
For most of 2012, there didn't seem to be much interest in multi-family housing, especially new construction. Permits were issued for just 93 units, according to the Census Bureau, and 70 of those units were in a public housing project in Daytona Beach. But toward the end of the year, two of the biggest commercial real estate deals were for apartments -- $47 million for the 360-unit Andros Isles complex at Interstates 4 and 95, and $32.2 million for the 288-unit Integra Shores. Also in the second half of the year, developers starting asking for permission to build more apartments, which has set up 2013 to be one of the biggest years for multi-family rental housing construction in Volusia in several years and it has begun.
The first to start construction was the 84-unit Saxon Cove apartments in DeBary, which will focus on the 55-plus market. In the past two weeks, site work has begun on the Venetian, a 248-unit complex at 3230 Ridgewood Ave. in South Daytona. Yep, that's right -- U.S. 1 in South Daytona. Out on Williamson Boulevard in Port Orange, an area you'd expect to see new construction, site work has begun for CBL & Associates 300-unit Liv Apartments.
Another project set to start construction this year focuses on the student housing market. Ponte Vedra-based Z Loft plans to build a 240-unit complex at Dunn and Jimmy Ann avenues in Daytona Beach. Not so certain are plans for a 239-unit complex on the North Causeway in New Smyrna Beach. Residents have fought against the rental complex and want the original plans followed of building owner-occupied condominiums.
Interest in multi-family apartments also extends to older complexes as well. A 28-unit complex on Grandview Avenue, just a short walk from the beach, recently sold. Also, the 126-unit Holly Point Apartments, an old section 8 housing project in Holly Hill, was bought for $4 million and the new owner is expected to spend $6 million on renovating it.
So in the darkness, Volusia residents probably can expect to see about 1,000 new multi-family housing units this year.
Besides the two apartment complex deals, commercial real estate activity has been a little busier recently. Some of the biggest deals included Urban Investment Research Corp. of Chicago buying the Social Security Administration office property in DeLand for $1.45 million. Dr. Jay C. Chanmugam paid $665,000 for the medical office building at 1133 Saxon Blvd. in Orange City and local investors bought the former Kitty Scotts Furniture property in Ormond Beach for $575,000.
Just when it looked like the dollar store developers had run out of places to build them, Dollar General found another spot. Plans have been submitted to the St. Johns River Water Manager District for a dollar store at 55 U.S. 17/92 in DeBary.
Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has tracked business in Volusia County for more than 16 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.