Residences that cost less to build and offer features favored by millennials and empty nesters are driving the market.
Townhomes are a trend in Northeast Florida.
City of Jacksonville permit data shows 349 permits for townhomes were issued in the first five months of 2019. That’s more than the 215 townhome permits issued in all of 2018.
Among the projects in the region:
• Dream Finders Homes is developing 90 townhomes in eTown called East Village.
• Lennar Homes plans 206 townhomes at Twin Creeks North at Interstate 95 and County Road 210 in St. Johns County.
• Toll Brothers in St. Johns County is developing 78 units at Nocatee Crosswater Townhomes at Conservation Trail and converting a portion of Oakwood at Nocatee at Valley Ridge Boulevard from single-family to 43 townhomes.
• Mattamy Homes plans a 292-townhome development called Pablo Cove on 33 acres along the west side of San Pablo Parkway.
• Three developers are competing for a townhome project in the LaVilla area of Downtown Jacksonville.
Driving the trend are consumer preferences and price, developers say.
Alex Sifakis, founding partner of JWB Real Estate Capital, said the increase in townhome development “has to do with affordability.”
Land, labor and material costs have made it almost impossible to build a new home for less than $200,000, he said.
“The entry-level price point of sub-$200,000 is the Holy Grail right now,” he said.
Sifakis said townhome costs are lower because you can build more homes on smaller lots with lower material costs.
He said in Jacksonville a sub-$200,000s townhome is cheaper to buy than rent.
The homes, built in rows and sharing exterior walls and a roof, also are attracting millennials and baby boomers who want their own space, but don’t want the maintenance associated with a traditional home.
Steve Merten, division president with Toll Brothers, said its townhomes are a luxury product that offers homeownership with the ability to “lock and leave.”
Toll Brothers townhomes are larger and incorporate higher-end finishes with attached garages that give the feel of single-family but do not require as much maintenance as a single-family home.
D.R. Horton also has townhome projects in the works, including in Arlington and in areas that have been stagnant for years.
The national homebuilder is developing Deer Run, an 83-townhome project at Buck Business Park, planned years ago for business and commercial uses.
The company also wants to develop River Gate, a 191-townhome community at the roundabout on the north side of the Arlington Expressway on property that has been vacant since the Expressway Mall was demolished in 2006.
D.R. Horton also is developing 78 townhomes along the east side of Starratt Road south of First Coast High School in North Jacksonville.
With the area’s housing supply tight, costs of land, labor and materials on the rise and millennials and empty nesters seeking options to fill their needs and budgets, townhomes are filling a niche for home ownership and builders are responding.