Six hundred new apartments — one of the most encouraging signs of Downtown revitalization — were scheduled to open in Brooklyn during the fourth quarter of last year.
For those following the project, it was like anticipating the lead act of a rock ‘n’ roll concert — everyone waited. Weeks stretched into months.
Now, the moment is almost here.
Brooklyn Riverside, a 310-unit apartment complex behind Fresh Market, will release its first 43 homes to tenants as early as next week.
At 220 Riverside, a 294-unit complex just a block away, no release date has been announced yet, but developers say it’s a matter of weeks.
“We are very close,” said Coen Purvis, senior vice president for Hallmark Partners, that project’s developer.
At Brooklyn Riverside, occupancy is a go once the city has performed its final inspections. That’s expected as early as next week. Thirty-two tenants have signed pre-leasing contracts since sales began a month ago.
It’s a sign that modern apartments near Downtown — so far, an untested idea — could draw residents to Jacksonville’s urban core.
“It’s still very early,” said Brian Oates, development manager for Pollack Shores Real Estate Group. “But, we’re optimistic for the project and happy with the look and feel of what we’ve produced.”
Brooklyn Riverside, with its bulldozers still on site and some exteriors still bearing green wall sheathing, doesn’t look as close to being finished as 220 Riverside. But some parts of Brooklyn Riverside are more finished than they appear.
Units will be released every month in chunks of 50 or so at a time, while others continue under construction. It’s a system that helps with financing and which the Atlanta-based developer has used in other cities.
Onsite leasing agents have been taking prospects on hard-hat tours through the finished units.
“It’s a big advantage,” Oates said. “It’s one thing to see samples on the wall. It’s another to be able to touch and feel the homes.”
The industrial-style building fills a city block, creating a feeling of urban living. But an open air breezeway on the interior and an abundance of balcony units on the exterior connect residents to the surrounding outdoors.
Inside, the units follow single-family home trends, like subway-tile backsplashes and USB ports in the kitchen, LED and compact fluorescent lighting and vinyl plank flooring.
About a third of the units will have quartzite countertops, an up-and-coming feature in many markets, but one that is still new to Jacksonville. The others will have marble. Italian-style cabinets are another new trend, offering a sleek modern look.
Customer response so far has come from a diverse group of people, Oates said, but the largest portion of pre-leases has been for 1-bedroom apartments. That means Brooklyn Riverside is hitting the young professional demographic they had been targeting.
Other cities are seeing young professionals move back into the urban core, but in Jacksonville, the trend has lagged. With Brooklyn, developers are betting the same market demand exists here.
Both Brooklyn Riverside and 220 Riverside charge rents more typical of Jacksonville’s Southside apartments.
Rates at Brooklyn Riverside range from $909 to $2,185 for units from 664-1,293 square feet, while 220 Riverside is charging $1,090 to $1,825 for units from 618-1,204 square feet.
With less than 10 percent of Brooklyn Riverside leased so far, it’s still early to say how deep the demand for that product is, Oates said.
But as the developers show where Jacksonville’s high end lies, it should draw projects of more density and higher quality to the urban core.
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