The Arizona Legislature approved a law last week that gives developers of new apartments a year to get a permit to build on vacant land.
That will be a relief to thousands of Arizonans who have been waiting years for their first new apartment.
And it’s good news for apartment buyers who want to build an apartment in a city with a high vacancy rate, which in Arizona can be as high as 80 percent.
But that relief comes with a caveat: There’s a time limit.
Developers can’t start building apartments on vacant lots until 2019.
The deadline was set after lawmakers debated the bill, which would give developers a year.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Legislature said it “has given notice of the passage of a bill that will give our state the flexibility to create a new affordable housing supply.”
“While we welcome the opportunity to have a new supply of affordable housing in Arizona, it is critical that we build new affordable units, and not just fill empty spaces,” the statement read.
The Arizona Real Estate Board said that about a dozen new apartment buildings are expected to open in the state by 2021.
In addition to those, more than 500 new apartments are expected in the city of Tempe, which is already home to one of the nation’s most affordable housing markets.
About 2,300 new apartments will be built in Phoenix, and nearly 600 are expected by 2021, according to a report by the American Community Survey.
Some apartment developers have been looking to fill the gap left by the city’s vacancy rate.
A new development at the former site of the Phoenix Museum of Art is expected to begin construction next year.
Other developers are trying to fill a gap in Arizona’s rental market.
In June, a company called The Point House Group, based in Portland, Oregon, said it would build more than a dozen apartment buildings in the Phoenix suburb of Parma, and another building in Scottsdale.
The apartments will have a minimum of three bedrooms, and will be priced between $1,500 and $3,500 per month.
The Point house is a partnership between local developer and developer-turned-advisor Jim Lutz.
Lutz was the architect of the former Phoenix Museum district and the former Tucson Zoo.
In the Phoenix metro area, the Parma-Parma project will be the first of its kind.