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Boom in U.S. rental construction in June has echo on LI

Mill Creek Residential Trust's 275-unit rental apartment building

Mill Creek Residential Trust's 275-unit rental apartment building in Mineola, seen under construction on Old Country Road on Dec. 4, 2014, opened earlier this year. Credit: Steve Pfost

U.S. developers are scrambling to meet demand for rentals, with the number of groundbreakings for apartment complexes reaching its highest level last month in almost 28 years.

The total number of housing starts jumped 9.8 percent in June, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million homes, the Census Bureau and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development reported Friday. The increase was due entirely to a 28.6 percent jump in multifamily construction, which hit its highest point since November 1987.

The number of groundbreakings for single-family homes fell by 0.9 percent last month.

Long Island is experiencing a rental construction boom of its own. New apartment buildings have been rising near train stations and in downtowns, including East Setauket-based Tritec Real Estate Co.'s 291-unit development that opened last year in Patchogue.

So far this year, Texas-based Mill Creek Residential Trust has opened a 275-unit rental apartment building in Mineola, and the Garden City-based Albanese Organization started leasing the first of its 177 new apartments near the Wyandanch Long Island Rail Road station.

More apartments are on the way, with the Ronkonkoma Hub complex expected to include 1,450 rentals. The complex was approved by the Brookhaven Town Board last year.

It's clear the region's long-held opposition to such developments is diminishing, said Jim Morgo, a member of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council and former economic development commissioner in Suffolk County.

The reason, he said, is that residents see that the new buildings revitalize struggling downtowns, and they do not increase crime or dramatically raise the number of students in local schools.

"I think people are realizing that the myths against multifamily housing are just that -- myths," Morgo said.

Nationally, the gains show that what had been a sluggish construction sector is now running on economic adrenaline. Strong job growth and a rebounding economy have increased the numbers of buyers and renters searching for homes, while gradually rising mortgage rates have spurred homeowners to act.

"The residential market recovery is here, and it is strong and sustainable," said Peter Ciganik, managing director at real estate investor GTIS Partners in Manhattan. -- With AP

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