Nearly 500 upscale apartments planned

Complexes that would be about mile apart called ‘aggressive moves.’

Two plans that would put nearly 500 upscale apartments within a mile of each other in southern Montgomery County are being called bold moves that would surpass the number of units built in the region since 2012.

Developers see the Austin interchange area off Interstate 75 as a market ripe for high-end rental housing for young professionals as growth continues along the Ohio 741 corridor, home to some of Miami Twp.’s largest employers and thousands of jobs.

The Flats at Austin Landing is a $35 million project by the Indiana-based Fortus Group to build 274 apartments on 4.3 acres at the 142-acre complex being developed by RG Properties.

About a quarter mile north, plans for Austin Ridge by USC Properties of Miami Twp. call for 210 more rental housing units as part of an estimated $24 million mixed use development on nearly 15 acres on Ohio 741 at Miami Village Drive.

Both plans were submitted last month and, pending approval, are not expected to be completed until at least late 2016. But they constitute an “aggressive move,” said Walt Hibner, executive director of the Homebuilders Association of Dayton.

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He noted that part of the risk involves putting “that many units in close proximity to each other in an area that’s not growing (in population) at a great rate of speed.”

Still, Hibner said he sees promise in the projects.

“But if they’re going to pick an area, that’s a good one,” he said.

The 484 units proposed in the vicinity of Ohio 741 and Austin Boulevard are more slightly more than the number of building permits for apartments in the entire Dayton region in the past three years, according to statistics used by the homebuilders association.

Building permits in the Dayton region – which includes Butler, Darke, Greene, Montgomery, Preble and Warren counties – peaked recently in 2005, when 534 were issued.

But the south Dayton market is prime for new rental housing because of the “dearth of new construction in new apartments” and the concentration of major employers, said Greg McCann, vice present of USC Properties, the main developer of Austin Ridge.

LexisNexis, PNC Bank Mortgage, MetLife, Teradata and NewPage Corp. – companies that supply more than 6,000 jobs, according to the township’s website – are all with a few miles.

“We think there’s a definite market for this,” he said. “ When you look at the occupancy rates in the south Dayton market there’s a 97 percent rate.”

The vacancy rate of rental properties in the Dayton area as a whole for 2013 was 4.9 percent, according to U.S. Census data. Meanwhile, the number of homes sold in the market since January has decreased 3.6 percent compared to the same time period in 2013, according to the Dayton Area Board of Realtors.

Part of the reason why shoppers are favoring rental units over buying is a trend with young adults not quite being ready to invest in property, Hibner said.

“They’re not in a big hurry to make a commitment to get a mortgage,” he said. “Maybe they want to get high-quality rental unit before they’re strapped with a mortgage and find something that fits their needs.”

Young professionals are a demographic The Flats at Austin Landing have in mind, said Dirk Beck, vice president of construction for The Fortus Group, which will own and manage the project.

He said the complex feature a health club, a lounge and a dog park to accompany other Austin Landing surroundings - including retail, restaurants, a public park and a regional bike trail - all within walking distance.

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