The healthier economy has encouraged more new development across the country in recent years, and multiple new projects that went into production during that time are now completed or almost finished. Several, depicted below, piqued our interest, in part because of their varied demographic niches, locations—and very different-looking exteriors. But we also took note of their similarities, too: All reflect a continued interest in having access to public transportation and nearby shopping and restaurants; good views, whether city or suburban vistas; energy-efficient materials and systems; attractive design, whether for affordable or market-rate price points; and a variety of amenities that cater to the interests of the resident base.

rental townhouses, front elevation, elegant facade
Courtesy Strang Architecture With their striking vertical "fins" and individual private landscaped courtyards, the rental townhomes that make up the RainGarden Apartments in Winter Haven, Fla., live like elegant for-sale urban housing.

RainGarden Apartments, Winter Haven, Fla.
Architect Max Strang, whose Strang Architecture is based in Coconut Grove, Fla., was hired by developer/manager Six/Ten, located in Winter Haven, Fla., to design the city’s first new multifamily residential building in more than 25 years.

With its first phase completed, RainGarden consists of nine rental townhouses, each measuring 1,600 square feet. Seven more are in the works and due to be completed by early 2017.

Located in the state’s central portion and nestled among lakes and orange groves, Winter Haven is a community that’s witnessed economic growth in part due to a Legoland Florida Resort that opened on the grounds of the former Cypress Gardens attraction. It’s also located 15 miles from Lakeland-based Florida Polytechnic University.

RainGarden offers residents a win-win living option: proximity to a burgeoning downtown on foot from multifamily housing that engenders the feeling of a house. Each of the units has two bedrooms, 9-foot-9-inch ceilings, two and a half bathrooms, polished-concrete floors, a private landscaped courtyard, and a two-car garage. Two of the units are available as short-term vacation rentals.

The building’s north façade comprises 60 vertical fins that offer privacy and sun control, also important in a growing metropolis. Last year, RainGarden received an AIA Miami Honor Award of Excellence, with kudos for its “... extremely elegant solution to multi-unit housing on a tight urban site. The sequence of spaces from the street provides both privacy and a sense of openness and generosity back to the city. The architecture is both modest and striking—not an easy combination of qualities to achieve.”

Mixed-use, low-income rentals, developmentally disabled
Courtesy Community Access Unlimited The 10-unit, mixed-use Fanwood in Fanwood, N.J., blends residences for renters with and without developmental disabilities.

Fanwood, Fanwood, N.J.
Last September, nonprofit developer Community Access Unlimited (CAU) celebrated the grand opening of its newest property, Fanwood—a mixed-use community in Fanwood, N.J. The building features 10 units spread among three levels for residents with and without developmental disabilities, many in need of low-income housing. Yet, despite the affordable rents, all the apartments feature universal, barrier-free designs; Energy Star appliances and heating units; and sensory thermostats.

Even more important may be the building’s integration of residences for those who have developmental disabilities and low incomes and those who don’t. This blended-living idea isn’t new to CAU, an Elizabeth-based nonprofit providing support programs and services statewide to adults with disabilities as well as youths served under the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The organization owns more than 250 units, and, as with its other projects, locates them strategically near major transportation routes, jobs, shopping, and medical offices.

Manhattan high-rise, Park Avenue South, Pritzker Prize, Toll Brothers City Living, Equity Residential
© Wade Zimmerman Photographer The 40-story 400 Park Avenue South, a joint-venture high-rise by Toll Brothers City Living and Equity Residential, mixes 350 rental and condo units. The building's glass façade permits 360-degree views of New York City.

400 Park Avenue South, New York City
Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize–winning French architect Christian de Portzamparc, 400 Park Avenue South represents a new breed, or hybrid, of 350 rentals and condos, developed by Toll Brothers City Living and Equity Residential. The 40-story building has a glass façade, 360-degree views of the Big Apple, and numerous amenities now associated with luxe living, such as a large fitness center with yoga room and indoor lap pool and sauna, screening room, golf simulator, and a children’s playroom. A sky lounge on the 27th floor offers great city vistas. The units, which range from studios to four-bedrooms, feature open floor plans, floor-to-ceiling windows, white oak floors, glass cabinetry, stone countertops, and top-grade kitchen appliances.

Located in the NoMad (North of Madison Square Park) neighborhood on Park Avenue South, the building is within walking distance of the park where the first Shake Shack opened as a hot-dog cart. Also nearby: Union Square Park and its array of restaurants and shops. There are also several transportation options for residents.

Toll developed the condo portion with 81 units on the top floors, which were opened last fall; Equity developed the 269 rental units below prior to the condos being finished.

affordable housing, masonry, low-income, McKinney, Texas, Housing Authority, garden apartments
Courtesy KWA Construction The Millennium Apartments in McKinney, Texas, offers low-income residents affordable housing designed to be indistinguishable from market-rate product.

Millennium Apartments, McKinney, Texas
KWA Construction in Dallas has completed the Millennium Apartments, an affordable housing project for GroundFloor Development, also based in Dallas. It was the two companies’ third joint venture together.

The 162,440-square-foot, four-story masonry building consists of 164 residences, with 130 of them set aside for low-income tenants. The units range from one-, two-, and three-bedrooms and feature 9-foot ceilings; patios or balconies; and the use of shared amenities found more often in market-rate buildings, including a community center with pool, library, business and fitness centers, sun porch, and cookout area. Families with children even have access to the highly rated Frisco school district.

KWA’s goal with Millennium was to make the building comparable to market-rate properties. “While Millennium is primarily an affordable housing project, our objective was to construct a best-in-class building that would be indistinguishable [from market-rate product],” says Richie Keen, the company’s vice president of operations. Not-for-profit help came from Inclusive Communities Project and McKinney’s housing authority.