Apartment complexes, nearly 500 units combined, on the way from Woodruff Co., Greystone Properties

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 3, 2012 

Two of the city’s leading apartment developers are preparing to break ground on new complexes -- one in Columbus, the other in Phenix City -- adding nearly 500 units to an already burgeoning rental market.

The Woodruff Co. and Greystone Properties, both based in Columbus, are looking to start construction on the apartments early this year. They will take between 18 to 22 months to complete, with buildings being leased in phases.

Up first will be a 263-unit complex called Lakeside Village Apartments at 6600 Kitten Lake Drive, off U.S. Highway 80 near the Beaver Run subdivision. The development will be positioned behind the Chick-fil-A restaurant, with additional commercial offerings fronting the highway. Kitten Lake is also on the property.

“We’ll break ground the first of the year and start moving dirt,” said Genevieve Green, a Woodruff Co. executive and broker. “We’ve got some things to do with the lake and what not. But you’ll start seeing some construction going on during the month of January. A lot of it will be dependent on the weather. For the whole development to be completed, it will take about 18 months.”

Prices for the apartments will range from $730 per month for a one-bedroom unit to $1,725 per month for a handful of three bedrooms with direct-access garages. Normal three-bedrooms will be $1,120 monthly.

Lakeside Village, Green said, will fill a need in an area of the city that has been slowly but surely growing in recent years.

“It’s been in our planning process for a long time,” she said. “But it was just getting everything to come together, with financing and everything else. Now is the time to do it.”

In Phenix City, Greystone Properties should begin construction by March on a 224-unit complex to be called Greystone at Riverchase. It will be situated on more than 23 acres along Riverchase Drive, across from the existing McIntosh Estates subdivision and next to Riverchase Centre office park. The Steeple Crest apartment complex also is nearby.

“We’re 250 yards from Publix, right down the street from (Idle Hour Park). You’ve got the north bypass right there. To me, we’ve got everything that you’d really want,” said Will White, a partner with Greystone Properties.

The land upon which the apartments will be built was recently rezoned from commercial to multifamily. White said the development, which will take up to 22 months to complete, will be similar to the company’s Greystone Falls, Greystone Maple Ridge and Greystone Farms Reserve complexes in Columbus.

Both of the new projects come with a plethora of apartments hitting the local market over the last couple of years.

Most recently, the Flournoy Company’s 297-unit Highland Ridge complex opened off Franciscan Woods Drive in north Columbus. The company also manages Summer Lake, a 270-unit development that made its debut off U.S. Highway 280 in Smiths Station earlier this year.

Columbus developer Bud Allen also is building a 300-unit complex on Williams Road in north Columbus.

The surge in apartment construction has White concerned and anticipating how it might impact his company and others in the sector.

“There have been too many units delivered to the market; too many units are under development,” he said. “But we like our product. We feel like we’ve branded our company a little bit in the Columbus area and we think it will be well received in the Phenix City market.”

White estimates the apartment occupancy rate in Columbus was near 98 percent earlier this year, but has fallen to just under 95 percent currently. He sees the rate slipping as low as 92 to 93 percent within 18 months.

The primary reasons for the slide, he believes, is that the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) expansion at Fort Benning “didn’t deliver quite the punch that we thought.”

The post has revised its total population influx of soldiers, civilian workers, defense contractors and family members down from 28,000 to 20,000.

“I also believe the home ownership rate is a factor,” White said. “We’ve certainly benefited from everyone’s reluctance to purchase a single-family home, concerned that the price was going to continue to fall. But I think over the next six to 12 months that’s going to stabilize. Home prices are still falling a little bit, but it’s almost run its course.”

Greystone Properties already has apartment complexes in Columbus, Knoxville, Tenn., and Leesburg, Ga.

It recently entered the Gulf Breeze, Fla., market with 176 units and has a 216-unit development being built now in Cumming, Ga., north of Atlanta.

Altogether, the company has about 3,400 units.

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