Bringing Single-Family Rentals into a New Market

One of the latest trends in the rental housing industry is bringing a new living concept to communities across the nation. Creating a single-family experience with the benefits of a professionally managed community, built-for-rent neighborhoods — sometimes called BFR or B2R — are growing rapidly.

Though usually connected, the buildings are only a single story, making the communities a desirable low-density housing option for many jurisdictions.

Having successfully introduced the new concept to communities throughout the Midwest, Redwood Apartment Neighborhoods set their sights on a booming market in the Southeast — Charlotte, NC. New to the region, Redwood engaged Bohler to help assess sites, provide local intel, and streamline entitlements.

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As Redwood continues to expand its footprint throughout the region, Bohler’s team draws on its expertise managing national retail programs to identify new opportunities, generally sites between 12-25 acres, for Redwood to solidify its brand and streamline its development model for its ongoing expansion throughout the Southeast.

Assisting with Site Selection and Zoning

Once Redwood’s real estate team determines that a site has potential, Bohler performs a comprehensive due diligence investigation, including geography evaluation, utility report, and yield study. These studies provide Redwood with probable construction costs for the property, allowing it to appropriately balance the cost per unit. Redwood leans on Bohler’s local expertise in the market to make informed decisions quickly about whether to move forward with a site.

see related: streamlining survey due diligence

Even though single-family BFR developments are low density, they are identified as multifamily because they are connected. This type of development is often not addressed in local zoning codes, and projects often face zoning challenges.

Bohler works with Redwood’s land use attorneys to help educate local jurisdictions about the single-family BFR concept, illustrate what it will look like, and explain its positive impact on the community.

The team then collaborates with the attorneys to navigate the zoning ordinance that helps Redwood move forward.

see related: developing build-to-rent communities

In Lancaster County, SC, for example, Redwood’s site was situated within a Low-Density Residential District that did not accommodate the proposed single-family BFR community. In conjunction with the land use attorney, Bohler’s team presented the concept to county staff, who ultimately agreed it would be a desirable development.

Establishing Design Standards Across Markets

Though Redwood has seen success throughout the Midwest, the residential developer recognizes the importance of building its brand and leveraging efficiencies by standardizing its community designs. Drawing from its extensive knowledge and experience with retail program management, the Bohler team is helping Redwood develop design specifications and standards to be applied across all markets moving forward.

As part of this work, Bohler is standardizing Redwood’s stepped-unit design to overcome various topography challenges, particularly in the Southeast. With this approach, each unit is slightly higher than the previous unit within the same building. The design works well with the steeper site grades while also offering more privacy between units, adding articulation to the façade, and creating a single-family feel for the tenants.

see related: site planning approaches to borrow from multi-site retailers

Redwood communities are typically financed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and as a result, they are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Therefore, sidewalks must include curb ramps to accommodate wheelchair access without retaining rainwater. Using Bohler’s experience with standardized grading design for national programs, the team helped Redwood refine its internal grading criteria to streamline compliance on all future sites.

Introducing a New Product in a New Market

Meeting with local jurisdictions upfront and educating them on the single-family BFR concept goes a long way toward securing the necessary rezoning approvals down the road. Bohler’s collaboration with local land use attorneys to present the approach has helped to establish Redwood’s presence in the Charlotte market.

By applying Bohler’s program management expertise, the team helped Redwood identify opportunities to solidify their brand, streamline development processes, and continue growing their business.


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