Single-storey apartments offer the allure of a mortgage-free home

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Renters in central Ohio increasingly have a choice between apartments and rental homes.

A growing number of rental communities are offering one-story ranch-style townhouses, giving tenants the impression of a home without a mortgage.

While such communities have existed in central Ohio for decades, they have grown in recent years, largely run by three growing companies – Redwood Living, Wilcox Communities and Treplus Communities – with the help of several. other developers.

Each offers their own variations, but all target what they see as a growing audience: empty nesters who want the convenience of renting but with a front and back door, attached garages, and no neighbors above. or below.

“Our biggest demographic are the downsizers, people who don’t want to buy a condo but have lived in a house, who want that home lifestyle,” said Noelle Smith, one of the two managers. of Redwood Living in central Ohio.

The Redwood apartment district in Reynoldsburg offers open-concept two-bedroom, two-bathroom units that look more like a single-family home than a traditional apartment.

Because ranch-style apartments are much more expensive to build than stacked apartments, they tend to cost more to rent, typically starting above $ 1,500 and in some cases increasing north of $ 3,000 per month. . Renters say the premium is worth it.

Shannon Shorie and her husband moved from a no-elevator apartment into The Residences at Browns Farm, a Wilcox Communities development in Grove City, in late July. They pay $ 1,700 per month for the larger model, which gives them over 1,300 square feet.

“It’s totally worth it,” said Shorie, whose husband asked not to be named.

“It’s much better value than our apartment. It’s more like living in a house, even if you have people on both sides of you. It’s very private. You have a two-car garage. , so you don’t have to worry about parking, and it’s very spacious. ”

Wilcox, Redwood and Treplus built 23 communities in central Ohio containing approximately 3,500 apartments and together they provide for at least 10 additional communities in the Columbus area.

The developers say the completed communities are full and usually have waiting lists. Those under construction get ready quickly. Browns Farm, for example, was two-thirds rented when the first apartment opened, said Jonathan Wilcox, managing partner of developer, Wilcox Communities.

“We think there is a long trail with this,” he said. “We think it’s not a trend, it’s a change.”

But, he added, communities can be difficult to build. They require a lot of land – developers want at least 20 acres for each community – which makes them difficult to build economically inside the Interstate 270 ring road.

Treplus Communities, however, is looking for sites inside the ring road and is in talks with the developer of the former United Methodist Children’s Home property to be part of this project in the middle of Worthington.

“I just want 10 acres,” said Jane Arthur Roslovic, Treplus partner. “To get into Worthington, we would shrink our footprint in a nanosecond. We love this site. It’s hard to find niches like this.”

A closer look at one-story ranch options:

• Redwood Living, based in Independence, Ohio, operates more than 10,000 rentals in seven states in the Midwest and South. Founded in 1991, Redwood entered the Columbus market in 2012 with a development in Pickerington and has grown rapidly.

Today, Redwood operates 13 communities in central Ohio with more than 2,000 apartments, and has no plans to slow down.

“Since we built our first neighborhood in Columbus in 2012, this neighborhood has continued to thrive and we are excited to continue to grow with the market,” said David Conwill, COO of Redwood.

Redwood’s core product has changed little since entering the market: one-story, attached rental homes with front doors, back patios, and attached garages. All Redwood homes have two bedrooms (some with a bonus or one flexible bedroom) and range in size from approximately 1,100 square feet to over 1,600 square feet.

Many of the Redwood community's patios in Reynoldsburg overlook a pond.

Redwood’s rent ranges from around $ 1,500 per month to over $ 3,300. Looked at on a price per square foot, the rent isn’t much more than conventional apartments, said Smith, manager of the east-central Ohio area at Redwood.

Redwood is building a community in Marysville and plans to start communities in the Groveport, Obetz, Etna, West Jefferson and London areas next year.

“We can’t build fast enough right now,” Smith said. “Our product performed really well during the pandemic.… We prepublish almost everything.”

Communities in Redwood typically offer ponds and walking trails, but no other community amenities such as pools, pavilions, or gyms.

Redwood Living operates 13 communities in central Ohio and plans several more.

• Columbus-based Treplus Communities operates three rental ranch communities in central Ohio, but plans to expand significantly with a new financial partner, Toledo-based housing and healthcare company Welltower, worth $ 36 billion.

“Our plan is to go coast to coast,” said Roslovic, Treplus partner. “The reason the agreement with Wellower and us makes sense is that they had the same vision as us: to be a national player.”

Treplus plans to begin its expansion later this year with two new complexes in central Ohio – Sugar Maple Commons in Grove City and Spruce Commons on Central College Road on the northeast side – adding about 270 apartments to its mix.

After that, the company looks to expand into other markets, starting with Cincinnati and Indianapolis (in addition to the complex it already operates in Centerville, outside of Dayton).

“We are looking very heavily in the Carolinas, Michigan and Tennessee,” Roslovic said. “There are still a lot of opportunities in Florida, and Texas is a huge, active adult state.”

Treplus offers one and two bedroom apartments with optional dens, one bathroom per bedroom plus one powder room, as well as a two-car garage. Apartments range from approximately 1,200 square feet to approximately 1,600 square feet.

Unlike the communities of Redwood and Wilcox, Treplus Apartments are reserved for those 55 and over. The resorts offer a full menu of amenities and services targeting the age group, including community centers with fitness facilities and offices, concierge services, and programs that include educational, social, fitness and entertainment.

“We always wanted to have a brand associated with active adults,” said Roslovic. “The amenities and the programs that we provide, that was very intentional.”

The fittings and some finishes and landscaping push Treplus’s starting price up above some of its competitors. Apartments range from about $ 2,100 to $ 2,800 per month.

Burr Oak Commons in Delaware is one of three Treplus Communities neighborhoods in central Ohio, with more to come.

• Wilcox Communities of Worthington went from building condominiums to single storey apartments several years ago and has never looked back.

“We got serious about this seven or eight years ago when we saw a shift in (baby) boomers towards rental by choice,” said Jonathan Wilcox. “We said: ‘let’s invent a new concept that would meet this emerging demand’. ”

The company has built four ranch-style rental communities in central Ohio and is completing three more, in Marysville, Grove City and New Albany, for a total of approximately 1,100 apartments. The company plans to build in four more locations for another 700 apartments, Wilcox said.

Wilcox communities divide the difference between what Redwood and Treplus provide. They offer clubs, fitness centers, cafes, and other amenities, including dog parks, but not the full menu of services and programs offered at Treplus.

Wilcox apartments range from approximately 1,100 to 1,400 square feet with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two-car garage. Rent ranges from around $ 1,400 to $ 1,700 depending on model and community, although Jonathan Wilcox expects rising construction and land costs to push rents to $ 1,500 to 2,000. $ in future communities.

Although Wilcox complexes are not limited in age, they tend to appeal to a specific audience.

“They really attract renters over 50 who rent by choice,” he said.

Wilcox Communities has completed four one-story apartment communities in central Ohio and is working on three more, including the Woodside Residences in Marysville, shown here.

Other developers with similar products include Rockford Homes, which just opened Madison Ponds at Canal Winchester; Schottenstein Homes, who developed a two-story, feature-rich version of the idea; and Mid-Ohio Development.

[email protected]

@JimWeiker


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