Upscale rental complex on the rise on 17th Street

[Photo: Kaila Jones]

Concrete block shells are nearing completion at an upscale rental community between 17th and 18th streets two blocks west of Indian River Boulevard that will bring 27 units to market in the next year. The project, first conceived a dozen years ago by a West Palm Beach developer, faltered during the real estate downturn a decade ago after just one building with three units was constructed.

Painted in pretty pastel colors, facing 17th Street, the attractive triplex sat for 11 years, gradually overgrown with weeds and sometimes inhabited by homeless people, providing a glimpse of what could have been had the housing market not crashed.

The property came back to life last year when Michael Buza, president of Wolfpack Financial, bought the 3.1-acre parcel in March for $735,000. The Vero Beach Planning Department looked over Buza’s updated plans and approved them in September 2018. Thirty units were originally planned but that number has been scaled back to 27 – three townhomes in each of nine buildings – with a single entrance off 18th Street. The development will not be gated.

According to plans provided by the city, 10 of the townhouses will have three bedrooms, while the remaining 17 will be two-bedroom units. The three-bedroom homes will be two stories with two and a half baths. The two-bed units will be flats with two bathrooms. Each unit will have a one-car garage and at least one other assigned parking spot, according to plans submitted to the city.

Construction got under way at the end of 2018 with an 18-month build-out goal. Michael Schlitt, of Michael Schlitt Construction, who is building the high-end apartments, said the project is slated for completion next summer.

“He’s not moving super fast,” Schlitt said of the developer. He said Buza doesn’t plan to start renting any units until all construction is complete. Marketing for the complex won’t start until after the first of next year.

The units will range from 1,100 to 1,400 square feet under air and have 110-square-foot porches. According to minutes from a neighborhood meeting held in 2014 about the project, the neighborhood is not expected to be age-restricted and pets will be welcome.

Schlitt said all the units will be well-appointed with marble floors and granite throughout. Stainless-steel appliances will be installed in the kitchen. He previously told Vero News that thick insulation, air space and reinforced concrete block construction, with 12-inch walls between units, will make the homes quiet.

There are no plans for a clubhouse or pool, but the site plan shows a small park space near 17th Street and green space between each of the nine buildings.

Rental rates have not yet been determined but are likely to be in the $1,400 to $1,800 range.

While declining to give specific figures, Schlitt said to expect higher-than-typical rents given the upgrades.

The development’s location close to restaurants and retailers, as well as the beach and whatever ends up being built at the now-sold Vero Beach power plant, also are factors in pricing.

“It’s a pretty nice spot,” Schlitt said.

Buza said last year that he planned to call the community Oakmont, but city paperwork shows it as Victoria Village, a hold-over from the prior developer’s plans.

Schlitt said that as much as Buza wants to change the name on city records, they’re going to hold off until the certificates of occupancy are issued. Rebranding the development at that point will avoid considerable paperwork that would have to be done on all the permits if the name was changed prior to completion.

The Reserve Vero Beach is the newest apartment complex to be built in Vero, near 66th Avenue off State Road 60 on the west side of town. Rents there range from $1,290 per month for a one-bed, one-bath, 851-square-foot unit to $1,645 for a 3/2 with 1,345 square feet.

The large apartment complex behind the Outback Steakhouse has a community center with a resort-style pool, and a clubhouse with library, game room and fitness center.

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