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By   – Staff Writer, Orlando Business Journal

Since 2014, a handful of developers have become the most active in Central Florida’s apartment industry.

The five biggest developers have built a combined $1.6 billion in new apartments here, adding up to more than 8,000 units delivered or under construction. In the process, these developers have helped create thousands of jobs in the area.

The biggest is Winter Park-based Epoch Residential, which built or is under construction on more than 2,129 Central Florida apartment units since 2014. And there’s more to come — Epoch Residential’s newest projects likely will rise near Walt Disney World and in Winter Park.

Apartments are big business in Central Florida, where the industry contributes $28.7 billion to Orlando’s economy, according to a Hoyt Advisory Services study. In addition, the industry supports roughly 151,020 jobs in Orlando.

Orlando’s hot apartment sector has a low 3.7% vacancy rate, according to Charlotte, N.C.-based Real Data Inc. Orlando’s apartment market has an average monthly rent of $1,302. There are more than 10,183 apartments in the local construction pipeline, and one-third of those are being built in or near downtown Orlando.

The apartment business is expected to continue to boom in Central Florida, according to experts.

“Until there’s some massive slowdown in population or job growth, you’re not going to see a slowdown on the apartment demand side,” said apartment expert Scott Ramey, senior managing director with New York-based Newmark Knight Frank (Nasdaq: NMRK).

EA (Nasdaq: EA) reportedly is considering leaving its 128,000-square-foot Maitland office and relocating to Orlando’s Creative Village, sources said. Those involved in the rumored deal either wouldn’t comment or couldn’t be reached.

However, the potential move would be a blockbuster deal for downtown and the $1.5 billion mixed-use project. Having EA as a downtown tenant likely would lure other big-name video game and technology companies — firms that office experts agree would be a good fit for Creative Village. That, in turn, would generate more businesses and create more demand for housing, retail space and more in downtown Orlando.

OBJ Significant Impact
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