Back in January 2018, Atlas Real Estate Partners purchased Downtown St. Pete’s Urban Style Flats apartment complex for just over $46 million. The property consists of three connected buildings with a total of 481-units at 300 10th Street South, on the western edge of downtown near Tropicana Field. By number of units, it is by far the largest apartment complex in Downtown St. Pete.
In purchasing the property, the new owners were well aware of its baggage. To locals, the property was seen as tired and outdated. And for those who lived there, the building lacked modern amenities like air-conditioned hallways and inviting common areas. Urban Style Flats had a stigma and it was one that was severely impacting the long-term success of the property.
Atlas set out to change its reputation, but they knew it would take a major overhaul. So in late 2018, they began a multi-million dollar series of renovations, both interior and exterior, to completely transform the property. And results are finally starting to roll in.
In June, the property relaunched with a new name: The Wayland. The complex also recently received a fresh coat of blue paint and now has a massive geometric mural which adorns the top of the structure — it is likely one of the largest murals in the city. Resident amenities like the fitness center, lobby, pool area, pet spa, package room, and a former restaurant space were taken to the studs and completely rebuilt. What was once Taps and Tequila and then The Grateful Fed Pub became a trendy co-working space with conference rooms, quiet phone booths, and plenty of lounge space.
The property also now features a state-of-the-art 2,000 square foot fitness center with new machines, a Peloton bike room, and a breakout yoga room. Exterior renovations included a new resort-style pool deck with new landscaping, fire pits, and outdoor cabanas. Phase II of the renovation is now underway and include a new resident lounge, demonstration kitchen, and resident bike storage.
“We’re not doing lipstick on a pig renovation. We’re taking a long-term approach and, in addition to the cosmetic and amenity enhancements, we’ve made improvements to the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems,” says Joe Stampone, Vice President of Atlas Real Estate Partners.
Inside, the upgraded apartments feature quartz countertops, subway tile backsplashes, energy efficient appliances, and vinyl plank flooring. Approximately half of units at the property will feature these upgrades, while the remaining units will feature standard finishes. The price difference between the two types of units is about 15-20%, allowing The Wayland to attract a larger pool of potential renters.
Renovations like those taking place at The Wayland are one way Downtown St. Pete can create housing inventory for residents at all price points. What Downtown St. Pete currently lacks is affordable market-rate apartments.
Over the past five years, thousands of new apartment units have hit the Downtown St. Pete market, often with sky-high rents. But the vast majority of the new units have been luxury apartments, with some units renting as high as $3.00/SF per month, a threshold that seemed unreachable a few years ago. Dividing rent by square footage is a common way to compare rental rates for units of varying sizes. It’s not surprising to see Studio rents north of $1,700/unit, 1 bedroom’s at $2,000+ and 2-and-3-bedrooms over $3,000/month. There’s a lack of full-service apartments with great amenities that are priced at attainable levels.
Despite all of the new inventory, most of the new apartments that are coming online are being fully absorbed. 930 Central Flats, which opened in November 2018, is over 95% leased and 90% occupied. Avanti, which also opened in 2018, has reached similar occupancy figures. In fact, the average occupancy rate for the Downtown St. Pete submarket is over 92%.
Nationwide, construction costs have increased to a point where the development of non-luxury apartment units is often unfeasible. This is especially true in urban areas where land values are high. That’s why the renovation of existing buildings, such as The Wayland, is often key in increasing the supply of affordable market-rate housing.
While improvements at The Wayland are ongoing there are already many renovated units that have been completed and are available for rent. Units at The Wayland start at ~$1,000 a month for studios and ~$1,100 for one bedroom units. You can find more information about the property at TheWaylandStPete.com.