Developer Steve Keller planning high-end apartments at Towne Center

​​Developers Steve Keller and Dan Moody III, are planning to develop a 300-unit multifamily complex at Towne Center on the site of the retail strip that houses the long-shuttered Books-a-Million space, two restaurants and a tuxedo rental store.

Keller’s attorney Scott Crawford says that if the proposed development is approved tonight by the Planning Commission, Keller and Moody will demolish the retail strip and relocate the existing tenants to other spaces within Towne Center.

The 4-acre site will then be redeveloped into a complex of up to six stories of high-end units with an enclosed, multilevel garage.

High-end lease rates in the local multifamily market are generally considered those of at least $1.60 per square foot or $1,600 or so per month.

Downtown, those rates run as high as $2 per square foot

Though developers have been adding an average of around 1,200 new units annually to the market’s multifamily inventory over the past couple of years, Keller believes there is sufficient demand for new product.

“There is not enough high-end multifamily right now to satisfy the demand, based on all the demographics we’ve looked at and the research we’ve done,” Crawford says.

The proposed development at Towne Center is one of several high-end multifamily projects on the drawing board. Later this month, the Metro Council will consider approval of a controversial 300-unit multifamily complex proposed for @Highland by New Orleans developer T.J. Iarocci’s Key Real Estate Development.

Meanwhile, Mike Wampold is well underway in his redevelopment of the former Chase South Tower, now I Rivermark Centre, into a mixed-use development with 150 high-end residential units. 

Appraiser Wesley Moore says the market appears to be overbuilt, though in 2020 occupancy rates increased over 2019, suggesting the new inventory is being absorbed.

“It doesn’t seem like we should be able to absorb as much as we are,” Moore says. “But, we are.”

The Planning Department staff has recommended approval of Keller’s project.

The Planning Commission meets at 5 p.m. in the Metro Council chambers at City Hall.