Christina Hartlage might buy a house one day, but for now renting an apartment gives her a chance to explore the Nashville region’s different neighborhoods while living in luxurious surroundings that include a dog park and a saltwater pool.
Hartlage, an Atlanta native who knows something about traffic, is also happy about her commute to her downtown office.
“The first time took seven minutes. It usually takes about 10,” said Hartlage, who moved into her new apartment in MetroCenter one week ago.
Hartlage, whose career brought her to Nashville, is one of the first residents of One MetroCenter Apartments. The 320-apartment development is under construction at 45 Vantage Way in North Nashville. It is one of two luxury apartment developments under way in the area.
The Duke Nashville, a 251-apartment development, is planned a few blocks away at 281 Cumberland Bend in MetroCenter.
They are among the 25,000 apartments that are either under construction or planned for development throughout the Nashville region, said Woody McLaughlin, spokesman for the Greater Nashville Apartment Association.
“That’s a historic growth figure. I don’t think Nashville has ever been through a growth spurt like it’s enjoying now,” he said.
Many transplants prefer to rent first
As those 25,000 apartments are completed over the next several years, they will join the estimated 110,000 units that are already on the market, said McLaughlin.
The region’s strong economy and job growth are attracting new residents. Like Hartlage, many of them initially lease an apartment while they learn their way around the city. Some may prefer a mobile lifestyle and choose not to own a home. Others are college graduates whose student debt might discourage them from taking on a mortgage, he said.
Seven out of 10 college graduates had student debt in 2013. The average amount was nearly $30,000, according to the nonprofit Institute for College Access & Success.
The average monthly rent for an apartment in the Nashville region was $955 in 2014. Monthly rent was $1,500 downtown and $1,230 in the Brentwood-Franklin area, said McLaughlin.
“I’ve heard apartment managers say most people moving into new ones are from out of town. L.A. and Chicago are two places people are moving from, and they’re used to paying higher rent,” he said.
One MetroCenter’s apartments feature hardwoods, granite countertops, walk-in closets and concierge trash pickup. The development will have a fitness center, a pool and a Zen garden. Rents range from $1,215 to $1,599, said Community Manager Pam Germer.
Construction is still under way, but demand has been strong. The first residents moved in last month. They include four players for the Tennessee Titans, whose practice facility is nearby.
“We believe in the MetroCenter market. The way Nashville is growing, it’s pushing in every direction,” said Germer.
Lock and leave with luxury touches
West of downtown, H.G. Hill Realty is developing Hill Center Sylvan Heights at the intersection of Charlotte Pike and 40th Avenue. The development will include retail space, 14 single-family cottages and 260 apartments, including micro apartments with less than 500 square feet of space. Rental rates are expected to be about $2 per square foot.
The micro apartments will feature “smaller appliances, very European” designed to fit the space as well as Murphy beds made by a manufacturer in Franklin, said Jimmy Granbery, CEO of H.G. Hill Realty.
Hill Center Sylvan Heights will include a fitness center and a dog spa as well as a Nashville B-cycle bicycle rental station. A city bus stop is being placed at the corner of 40th Avenue and Charlotte Pike.
“We’re a stone’s throw from Vanderbilt, McCabe Golf Course, if you work downtown,” said Granbery.
At the One City mixed use development at 28th-31st Avenue and Charlotte Pike, construction of 311 apartments is expected to begin in the spring. Downtown, developer Tony Giarratana’s SoBro Tower and 505 building will add hundreds of apartments to the city’s urban core. In Green Hills, Southern Land is moving forward with its high-rise mixed use development, which includes 310 residences.
In suburban Mt. Juliet, Rochford Realty and Construction Co. is developing The Meridian at Providence, a 223-apartment community that will include retail space and a location for the city police department’s bicycle patrol unit. Apartments are expected to rent for $900 to $1,500 per month.
The company previously developed the Deerfield at Providence, which has 426 apartments.
“We’ve been astounded” by the pace of leasing. “It’s happened very quickly,” said Trey Rochford, the company’s vice president.
Many people in their 20s and 30s aren’t interested in owning a home, and many older empty nesters are selling their homes and renting apartments so they can live a lock and leave lifestyle, he said.
As she settled into her new apartment at One MetroCenter, Hartlage said she was happy with her decision to rent rather than buy.
“I’m happy with the living situation I have,” said Hartlage. “It would be pretty hard to match.”