Lots of today’s apartment construction is occurring on tight urban core sites. Those properties can – and do – stretch skyward, pushing project densities well beyond the norm for previous construction cycles. Still, few towers go so high that they match the total unit counts of mega-suburban developments common in earlier construction periods.
The expanded role of small-site construction in the current development mix means that the average size of new communities is smaller than some might anticipate. The typical count is 204 units, measured across properties built during the past year, or those now under construction, in the nation’s 50 largest metros.
Orange County, Perhaps Surprisingly, Features the Biggest Projects
Orange County’s average size of 278 units is the largest across any metro, topping the U.S. norm by 36%. The metro is one of the few where MPF Research doesn’t classify any submarkets as urban core neighborhoods, so the typical mid-rise development on a comparatively spacious suburban site yields a bunch of units.
Texas and Florida Markets Mostly Complete the Leaderboard
Texas is the spot that seems very logical to dominate a list of markets with comparatively big apartment properties. Lots of the development occurring in Lone Star State metros is happening in the suburbs, which account for most of the jobs in each market as well as most of the ongoing employment growth. Furthermore, even though there’s substantial urban core building in Houston, Dallas and Austin (somewhat less so in San Antonio and Fort Worth), developers aren’t necessarily seeing how many units they can squeeze into downtown projects, given rents don’t push to the levels seen in the urban cores of coastal metros.
Typical property size runs at 268 to 273 units in San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Fort Worth’s average project count of 263 units is a little smaller, but still big enough for a top-10 national placement. Austin is in the #16 spot for average property size, at 246 units.
For the most part, the mix of suburban versus urban development seen in Florida looks a lot like the pattern registering in Texas. Following a path that’s a little different, much more of Miami’s new product consists of high-rise buildings, but the sites of these structures are large enough to allow quite a few of the properties to feature about 400 to 800 units in single developments.
Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando and Tampa/St. Petersburg all rank as top 10 metros nationally for average property size for new apartment communities.
Las Vegas is its Own Special Story
At 264 units, Las Vegas registers the eighth-biggest average new property size across the country. More than in other spots on the list, almost all the communities in Las Vegas are sized close to that average. There aren’t any of the 600- to 800-unit projects found elsewhere, and there also aren’t any boutique infill projects sized at fewer than 100 units.
Typical Project Size is Smallest in the Midwest
Property size runs smaller in the nation’s slow-growth economies, particularly in the Midwest region. New apartment projects in Milwaukee average just 111 units in size, and the typical count is no more than 130 units in Detroit, Cleveland and Columbus. Oakland, with an average unit count of 116 units, is the one spot outside the Midwest where typical project size is comparably small.