Rochester apartment construction returns to pre-pandemic levels

The rate of construction of new apartment buildings appears to be on track to meet the needs seen in housing study, even as new single-family home construction lags.

Work continues on the Bryk on Broadway Apartments, a 180-unit mixed-income apartment complex near the intersection of North Broadway Avenue and Civic Center Drive. The building permit for the project was issued on July 29, 2021.
Answer Man / Post Bulletin

Answer Man, 

It seems like there are apartment buildings going up all over Rochester. How many new apartment units are there either built or in the works over the last year?

Laurie Mureel, Rochester.


With several of the new larger apartment buildings popping up along well-traveled routes — think Broadway Avenue and the circle drives — it’s easy to think more units are being built than ever before.


The truth is the number of new apartment units being created in 2022 was on par with pre-pandemic levels.

During a recent review of building permits, Community Development Deputy Director Ryan Yetzer pointed to 746 new multi-family units being approved by early November, which is up from 575 in 2021, but below the 888 seen in 2019.

The units are all those included in construction of fourplexes and larger apartment buildings approved in the given year, and construction of larger complexes can easily take more than a year before apartments are ready to rent.

In addition to the building permits issued in 2022, nearly 120 other apartments have permits in review, and a variety of other projects have been announced but haven’t reached the point of starting construction.

Many residents — from City Council members to self-styled social media pundits — have questioned whether the demand exists, but the need was highlighted in a 2020 housing report prepared for Olmsted County.

The report cited a need for more than 5,000 new apartments by 2030.

With 1,609 started in the past three years, the goal seems reachable, and as long as the demand is filling apartments, it’s likely to stay on track.

The same can’t be said for the construction of single-family homes in the current market, where the housing study suggests 5,600 new homes will be needed by 2030.


Fewer than 600 have been permitted for construction since the report was released.

It’s important to note that developers of apartments and homes for purchase are not interchangeable. In many cases, it would be like going to your dermatologist to have heart surgery.

Both experts likely know the basics of each other’s work, but the smart money is turning to the appropriate specialist.

Individual developers focus on areas of need, and in both cases tend to make construction plans based on risk analysis and the potential to turn a profit. After all, they have families to feed and live in a world that requires an income to keep a roof over their own heads.

The current market appears to provide less risk for construction of rental units, with high demand and little effort needed to fill properly priced apartments.

At the same time, the personalized nature of home construction offers challenges that add risks for homebuilders.

Until those risks are reduced, it’s likely we will see the number of new apartments under construction overshadow individual homes.

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