Long-delayed Victoria Village project now complete

Victoria Village [Photo: Kaila Jones]

After sitting unfinished and overgrown for years, a building site two blocks west of the Indian River Lagoon, between 17th and 18th streets, now houses Victoria Village, an attractive, upscale rental community offering 2- and 3-bedroom residences.

The complex is “doing great,” according to island broker and rental agent Gene Billero. All 21 of the completed 2-bedroom, 2-bath villas have been rented, and interior work is well under way on the final eight units, for which, Billero adds, “there is a waiting list.”

Begun by a Fort Lauderdale developer a dozen years ago, the site saw only one of 10 originally planned 3-unit buildings completed before the housing market went south. Construction came to a halt, and the choice, 3.1-acre property and brightly painted, 2-story triplex facing 17th Street languished, overgrown by weeds and occasionally inhabited by homeless individuals.

In 2018, Palm Beach developer Michael Buza, president of Wolfpack Financial, a local LLC, purchased the property for $735,000, and updated the project’s plans, downsizing one of the 3-unit buildings to a 2-unit and changing some of the originally planned 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath units to more affordable 2-bedroom, 2-bath units.

That fall, Buza received a green light from the Vero Beach Planning Department, and his builder, Michael Schlitt Construction, quickly got the project cranked back up. By mid-2020, the long-delayed project was finally on the rental market

Buza’s revised plans included gutting the one original triplex “to the studs,” and completely rebuilding it. All 29 units have new A/C systems, metal roofs; impact glass; split-plan bedrooms; wide, wheelchair accessible doorways; Shaker kitchen cabinetry; a back porch; and a walk-in closet in the primary bedroom.

Upgrades include marble tile floors, granite countertops in kitchen and bathroom, and stainless kitchen appliances. The architecture is clean and modern, the exteriors cream, with dark blue shutters and doors.

The 1,100-square-foot, 2-bedroom, 2-bath, single-story villas rent for $1,595 a month. While the rate hasn’t been established for the not-yet-completed 1,400-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath, 2-story townhomes, Billero says it likely will be around $1,800 a month.

Renters may supply their own washer and dryer or, for an additional $50 a month, the property owner will provide them. Each unit has its own single-bay garage and one assigned parking space. The single entrance, off 18th Street, is not currently gated, but probably will be when the entire project is completed.

Billero applauded the developer’s foresight in recognizing “there was such a need” for an upscale, mainland rental community in the area, where available rentals have been limited primarily to near-by foreclosed homes. The project’s appeal was further enhanced, he said, by its highly desirable location only a few blocks from mainland restaurants and shopping centers and about a mile and a half from the beach and Vero’s charming Village by the Sea. Art galleries, museums, theaters, marina’s and parks are nearby.

Although the community has no clubhouse, the landscaping includes a small park area near 17th Street and green space between each of the 10 buildings, with room for gatherings, BBQs and outdoor activities. Billero notes the community’s friendly ambience, and its eclectic mixture of residents: young and old, students, professionals, retirees, from all walks of life. Pets are welcome,as well.

The remaining units are expected to be available starting in mid-November, said Billero, with the entire project “probably completed by March.”

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