Nearly 3,700 apartments have been built and absorbed in the Wilmington area since 2013, according to a recent report.
While new development growth of recent years might have reached its peak because bank financing for such projects has slowed down nationally and overall labor and construction costs have risen, the report says demand remains high for apartments in the Port City and surrounding communities.
"Vacancy is actually lower now than at the beginning of 2013 before these units [3,675 apartments] entered the market," states a first-quarter report on the area's apartment market that was compiled by Richard Cotton.
Cotton is managing director of Multifamily Realty Advisors and a commercial broker who specializes in the sale of apartment communities and apartment development sites.
"There are currently 740 vacant units, or 4.6 percent of the total number of apartment units in Wilmington, currently estimated at 16,013 units," Cotton wrote in the report.
The report states that 2,267 units are under construction in the area, including more than 500 in Brunswick County.
Some apartments that have been proposed or that were in the development pipeline in Wilmington have failed to start, while others are nearing completion.
The leasing office for Element Barclay
, a 402-unit luxury apartment complex on South 17th Street and George Anderson Drive, is expected to open Monday, according to a spokesman. The community is adjacent to The Pointe at Barclay, where The Pointe 14 movie theater opened March 17
For a project on Carolina Beach Road, developers are happy with the rate at which the new units are being leased.
"Leasing at Meridian at Fairfield Park is going very well. The property finished construction in late December and is currently 77% occupied and 87% preleased," wrote Mark Barker of Meridian development company NorthView Partners, in an email. "The property management company, Bell Partners, has done an excellent job leasing the property. The on-site leasing staff led by Cary Green has done a great job marketing the property by pointing out the overall quality, unit and property amenities to prospective residents."
Rental rates at Meridian at Fairfield Park range from $876 to $1,736 for the one- to three-bedroom units, where apartment sizes are 631 to nearly 1,500 square feet, according to the complex's web site.
According to the latest data from the Real Data Apartment Index, the average rent in Wilmington is $954 a month, excluding by-the-bed student housing, Cotton's report stated.
The report said apartments in the 1- to 5-year-old age group have the highest average rent at $1,421 per month, followed by apartments currently in lease-up, with average rents at $1,229 per month. Rates have increased a little more than 4 percent in the past year for the market as a whole, according to the report.