A new type of apartment living — luxury leased-home communities — is taking off in Surprise and beyond with appeal for young and old alike.

Unless renting a single-family home, renters often find themselves in multifamily, multilevel apartment complexes.

Three projects planned in Surprise are shaking up that rental landscape with communities of one- to three-bedroom detached homes with yards. The communal amenities include pools, playgrounds and dog parks.

The first to open will be the gated Christopher Todd Communities on Greenway at the southwestern corner of Litchfield and Greenway roads near the Surprise Civic Center. The project is expected to open in December.

Todd Wood, CEO of Gilbert-based Christopher Todd Communities, believes this hybrid of home and apartment is the future of residential communities.

“We’re not single-family homes and we’re not vertical apartments — we’re just that right in-between,” Wood said. “And we feel like, in the next 30 years, that’s how America’s going to want to live.”

The developer plans a similar project in Surprise’s Marley Park community in 2019. And NexMetro Communities plans to open Avilla Meadows, with one- to three-bedroom rental homes, near Waddell and Reems roads in Surprise in 2018.

Demand for a different rental experience

This apartment/home hybrid could become much more common.

Jacque Petroulakis, an executive vice president of marketing and investor relations for NexMetro Communities, said hybrid homes are part of a national trend. A subsidiary called Avilla Homes has roughly 1,500 rental homes built, planned or under construction in Arizona.

“We see this kind of demand for a higher-quality lease living experience, and it’s growing on a scale we haven’t seen before,” Petroulakis said.

Residents of Avilla Homes’ properties are a relatively even mix of Millennials and Baby Boomers, Petroulakis added. 

Arizona Multihousing Association Interim CEO Courtney LeVina said the rental model draws those generations in for a plethora of reasons. She said Millennials are waiting longer before purchasing their first homes, while Baby Boomers wary of another housing crisis are exiting the market.

“So it’s the older population coming back and this younger population staying in rental housing longer than (previous) generations,” LeVina said.

High-tech gated community near city center

Construction is in full swing at Christopher Todd Communities on Greenway, which will include 136 detached rental homes in a gated community.

The project will feature 56 one-bedroom homes and 80 two-bedroom homes ranging from 700 square feet to more than 1,000 square feet. Each home will also have a small backyard and patio — mimicking what you would find in a traditional house. 

One-bedroom, one-bathroom homes will cost around $1,150 per month, and two-bedroom, two-bathroom homes will be around $1,350 per month.

The units come with “smart home” technology such as keyless locks, doorbell cameras and thermostats controlled through a smartphone app. Residents pay a mandatory $125 monthly “technology fee,” which includes DirecTV and internet, on top of the base rent.

Residents who want a bigger backyard can pay at least $50 more per month.

The housing complex is pet friendly and has dog doors installed in every home.

More than 1,000 people signaled interest in renting, and the company will begin priority sign-ups on Tuesday, said Martha Moyer Wagoner, a company representative. Those willing to pay a refundable $150 deposit through Oct. 17 can be placed on a list. The earlier people sign up, the higher their priority. Wagoner said anyone on the list who doesn’t land a spot can opt for priority at another Christopher Todd development or receive a refund.

Aggressive growth across the West Valley

Christopher Todd Communities expects to open an even larger Marley Park community in 2019.

It’s planned on the corner of Old Oak Lane and Whisperwood Drive near Marley Park Elementary School. The project will include 173 one- and two-bedroom rental homes. The location will share similar amenities as other Christopher Todd properties, though being in Marley Park prevents it from being gated. Other Christopher Todd leased-home communities are planned at:

  • Christopher Todd Communities at Country Place: On 99th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road. The 154-home development will open in summer 2018. 
  • Christopher Todd Communities at Camelback and El Mirage Road: The 167-home community opens fall 2018.
  • Christopher Todd Communities at 99th and Missouri Avenue: The 313 homes in west Phoenix will open in late 2018.

Wood said rental prices could differ slightly between locations, though all are billed as luxury homes with similar amenities. 

Avilla at Waddell and Reems

Avilla Homes plans to build its 127-home development, dubbed Avilla Meadows, on nearly 11 acres on the northeastern corner of Waddell and Reems roads. The developer expects to break ground in January and open in late fall 2018.

The amenities mirror what Christopher Todd Communities offer with pet-friendly homes, private backyards and 10-foot ceilings. Avilla Meadows, however, will have three-bedroom apartments.  

When the project was first unveiled, area residents complained the development would add too much traffic. Avilla Homes addressed those concerns by removing an exit on Ludlow Drive, near the Sanalinas community.

Although Avilla Meadows is the company’s first Surprise project, Avilla Homes has  numerous Arizona locations. The company has five active communities in metro Phoenix and seven in metro Tucson, and it plans to expand into Dallas and Denver.

Home for a veteran

Todd Wood, CEO of Christoper Todd Communities, established a non-profit called A New Lease on Life, which will provide a returning veteran or the family of a deceased veteran with a rental home at the Christopher Todd Community at Greenway. The military family will live rent-free the first year, pay 50 percent of rent the second year and 25 percent the third year. 

Wood said he aims to help veterans and their families get back on their feet after returning home from deployment. He hopes to establish similar programs at the future communities. 

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