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Developer Sees Future For Less-Dense Multifamily Projects Built Using Next-Gen Construction Methods

The phrase “we need more affordable housing” has turned into a cliche across the U.S. as apartment rents continue to escalate

DFW-based multifamily developer JPI is no stranger to the need for more affordable apartments, but the firm's executive leadership said the solution to create less expensive apartments lies not with developers, but with the construction methods deployed. 

Rendering of future JPI apartment complex in Las Colinas

“We certainly see demand for affordable housing, and we see that locally and nationally. We want to be part of the solution,” JPI CEO Bobby Page said. 

Page, who will be speaking alongside JPI Chief Development Officer Brad Taylor at Bisnow’s Multifamily Annual Conference on May 2 in Dallas, said the deployment of next-generation building methods in the multifamily space will allow developers, financiers and municipalities to work together to bring more affordable units online. 

Page and Taylor expect these concepts to matriculate more rapidly into the multifamily industry over the coming decade or so.

The executives are confident in this prediction because they have been reading the tea leaves in multifamily construction for three decades now.

For 30 years, JPI has worked locally and nationally, developing, investing in and managing multifamily assets. The group is responsible for at least 18 apartment buildups in Las Colinas, Texas, alone. While the firm works nationwide, its primary areas of focus are Southern California and Dallas-Fort Worth. 

The next generation of construction tools and styles to improve construction affordability in all areas are already somewhat part of the market, Page and Taylor said. 

“We started doing panelization,” Taylor said. “And I think the next step will be a sea change in our industry and that could be modularization. That could also bring down the cost of the project and maybe make it much quicker to build a project, which in effect brings down the cost of the overall project.”

Once modularization takes effect, Page and Taylor expect to see a market where work crews fabricate apartments off-site at temperature-controlled facilities and then ship the materials to the development location to be put together. 

JPI co-founder and CEO Bobby Page

"People are starting to invest billions of dollars in that industry," Page said.

He predicts it will take five to 10 years before next-generation construction takes full effect. 

Looking at the landscape for constructing affordable housing in the Metroplex, Taylor and Page also see some cities demanding less dense apartment projects, which will push construction away from the wrap-around garages that became popular in the 2000s and beyond. 

Any lower-density products created in the future will have the same efficient footprints of the modern complexes, but with fewer units, Taylor said.

What isn’t returning, according to Taylor, is the old garden-style complexes that shaped the multifamily landscape in the 1980s and 1990s. 

"The product that is lower density today looks very different than the product that was low density in the past," Taylor said. 

JPI CEO Brad Taylor

Changes in lifestyles with tenants giving up their cars in exchange for additional luxuries and amenities also could shape the apartment of the future. 

For this area of rising demand, Taylor and Page already have a new luxury apartment concept in the works in Las Colinas to meet the needs of future renters who demand access to on-site workspaces, alternative transportation and high-end amenities. Page credits the city of Irving, the Irving mayor and multifamily platform and analytics provider RealPage for helping JPI study, conceptualize and credit the next-generation apartment complex. 

The planned project, which begins construction in late summer, will offer a coworking space inside the complex along with an Uber lane for ride-sharing. The site is strategically placed next to a Dart Rail station in the upscale suburb. 

"It will be at a higher price point and an opportunity for us to gather some intelligence in terms of the market and what the market is desirous of and that could ultimately roll into projects that we build in the future," Taylor said. 

Page and Taylor are keynoting Bisnow’s Multifamily Annual Conference on May 2 in Dallas. Don't miss it!