Riverlights hops on growing build-to-rent trend with multifamily village

A rendering of a three-bedroom cottage in Riverlights’ build-to-rent neighborhood (Port City Daily/Courtesy of Capstone)

WILMINGTON –– Wilmington’s 1,400-acre master-planned community, Riverlights, is capitalizing on the growing build-for-rent trend in the U.S. with a planned 21-acre complex exclusively for renters.

The Cottages at Riverlights is an incoming neighborhood with up to three-bedroom homes, as well as studio lofts and two-story carriage units –– all managed as rentals. The low-density multifamily neighborhood will contain 279 units once complete.

The cottage-style homes will range from one to three bedrooms, 650 to 1,350 square feet with 9- to 12-foot ceilings. Each will come with a private fenced-in yard. 


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Ground broke on the project in early August, and the first homes are expected to be built by late 2022, with full completion of the neighborhood by spring 2023; preleasing will kick off next summer with rental prices released at that time.

The neighborhood will make up 21 acres of the 120-acre mixed-use village at the southern entrance of Riverlights.

Riverlights is following the lead of other build-to-rent properties that have found success across the nation, especially in the South. The fast-growing multifamily real-estate trend appeals to renters searching for greater designs and amenities than the typical apartment offers. The concept appeals to developers for its strong return on investment.

According to The Business Journals, around 64,000 build-for-rent units were constructed across the nation in 2020. Another 80,000 are planned for 2021.

Riverlights is anticipating its build-to-rent model –– the first of its kind in Wilmington, the developers claim –– will fill a “niche” in the real estate market, according to a news release.

“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,” said Riverlights’ vice president for operations Nick Cassala.

The Cottages at Riverlights’ clubhouse is one of several amenities planned for the neighborhood. (Port City Daily/Courtesy of Capstone)

The neighborhood will offer courtyards with pavilions and grills, a clubhouse and “resort-style” pool, a gym, dog park and valet trash pick up, according to the release.

Outside, architecture will mimic the coastal vernacular and color palette seen throughout Riverlights. The neighborhood is also developed with “new urbanism” in mind, meaning there will be sidewalks, pocket parks and open green space.

Inside homes, features will include quartz countertops, wood-grain flooring, in-unit washers and dryers, smart home technology packages, round-the-clock on-call maintenance and optional enclosed garage parking.

Riverlights’ Newland is partnering on the project with Birmingham-based Capstone Communities. The commercial real estate firm is working on similar communities in Huntsville, Alabama; Daytona Beach, Florida; and at Nexton in Summerville, South Carolina, which is another Newland master-planned community.

“As we begin introducing the cottages to the multifamily sector, our goal is to meet the needs of Wilmington renters and build a true sense of community that is unlike a traditional apartment setting,” John Acken, executive vice president of Capstone Communities. “Our team at Capstone sees great potential in the area and looks forward to contributing to Wilmington’s growing economy.”

Capstone is utilizing its in-house construction entity, CBI Construction Services, as the general contractor, and its management division, Capstone Properties, for leasing.

Truist Bank is providing construction financing and Nequette Architecture & Design, in Birmingham, is the lead architect.

The site plan for The Cottages at Riverlights includes up to three-bedroom units, one-bed carriage units and studio lofts.

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