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Port City sees first build-for-rent development with The Cottage at Riverlights

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It’s no secret the Cape Fear region as a whole continues to grow at break-neck speed. New construction continues to pop up, and the housing market can’t seem to keep up with the demand.

On Wednesday, Riverlights announced construction was underway on Wilmington’s first build-for-rent neighborhood, The Cottages at Riverlights.

The community will be made up of 279 single-family homes with amenities like fenced-in backyards, in-unit washers and dryers, and optional enclosed garages. The Cottages will offer a mix of one, two and three-bedroom cottages, as well as studio lofts and two-story carriage units.

The build-for-rent concept is a trend that’s just making its way to the southeast. Industry experts say 64,000 build-for-rent units went up in 2020, and despite the pandemic’s building supply issues, an additional 80,000 more are planned for this year.

“In essence, build-for-rent is like a horizontal apartment community, it’s a trend that’s happening all over the country right now,” said Riverlights’ Vice President for Operations Nick Cassala. “We anticipate The Cottages at Riverlights will be home to young professionals, buyers awaiting a home under construction, empty nesters and families looking for an independent home for relatives.”

It’s a concept announced in a time of great need, as experts see record high demand for homes.

“There’s a lot of people that are moving here and it’s just super low inventory,” explained real estate agent Danielle Gillespie.

Gillespie says it’s not uncommon for her clients to have no option but to move in with family, seek out short-term vacation rentals or stay in hotels before they can settle into a new home. The market for rentals is so fast paced, it’s not uncommon for companies to already have multiple applicants in line waiting to move in before a rental house is ever officially listed.

“There’s a niche market that is in demand that is not currently being supported, which is those longer short-term rentals, so three-, six- and nine-month rentals. There are some apartment complexes that do offer them and they’re extremely high premiums. I mean it could be double the rent of what you normally pay for a 12-month lease,” added Gillespie.

The lack of housing inventory is a trend she believes could be around as long as we see record low interest rates and people moving to our area in search of the slower paced lifestyle at the beach.

While Riverlights was the first to announce the build-for-rent concept in the Port City, they know they’re unlikely to be the last.

“I think there’s gonna be more in this market before too much longer,” said Cassala.

Construction on the infrastructure for the 21-acre Cottages at Riverlights neighborhood is already underway. The first homes will be delivered in late 2022, and the development is expected to be completed in spring of 2023.

(Source: WECT News 6)

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The Junction Cottages & TownhomesCollege Station, TX186Summer 2016
Capstone Cottages of San MarcosSan Marcos, TX194Summer 2014
The Cottages of College Station, Phase I & IICollege Station, TX369Summer 2012
The Cottages of LubbockLubbock, TX241Summer 2009

South Carolina

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The Cottages at Myrtle BeachMyrtle Beach, SC294Fall 2023
The Villas at NextonSummerville, SC276Winter 2022
The Retreat of ClemsonClemson, SC552007


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The Cottages of NormanNorman, OK174Summer 2009

New Mexico

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New Hampshire

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North Carolina

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The Cottages at RiverlightsWilmington, NC279Winter 2023
Inspire at Royal ParkMatthews, NC204Summer 2022
The Cottages of BooneBoone, NC202Spring 2014


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The Arrow Townhomes & FlatsBozeman, MT268Summer 2019


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The Cottages of HattiesburgHattiesburg, MS103Summer 2008


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Arlington Cottages & TownhomesBaton Rouge, LA179Summer 2016
The Cottages of Baton RougeBaton Rouge, LA382Summer 2011


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The Cottages at Cypress CayTampa, FL198Spring 2024
The Cottages at TraditionPort St. Lucie, FL286Winter 2023
Primrose ResidencesSanta Rosa Beach, FL288Winter 2022
The Cottages at Daytona BeachDaytona Beach, FL283Fall 2022
Brisa ResidencesSt. Johns County, FL256Summer 2020
Beacon ResidencesNew Smyrna Beach, FL253Summer 2020
Cottage Grove at GainesvilleGainesville, FL84Summer 2008


Property NameLocationUnitsYear(s) Delivered
The Cottages of Fort CollinsFort Collins, CO202Summer 2018


Property NameLocationUnitsYear(s) Delivered
The Cottages of TempeTempe, AZ121Summer 2015


Property NameLocationUnitsYear(s) Delivered
The Cottages at GreystoneHuntsville, AL189Spring 2024
The Villas at Old MonroviaHuntsville, AL276Spring 2024
Artisan FlatsBirmingham, AL120Spring 2024
The Cottages at Old MonroviaHuntsville, AL272Winter 2021
Creekside of AuburnAuburn, AL360Fall 2007


Property NameLocationUnitsYear(s) Delivered
The Cottages at Warner RobinsWarner Robins, GA251Summer 2023
Premiere Lofts at TrilithFayetteville, GA263Summer 2020
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