Post Properties Inc. (PPS) is planning two new apartment construction projects, valued at $113.6 million, as the demand for rental properties continues to grow. Post Lake at Baldwin Park Phase III, located in Orlando, Fla., is a 410-unit complex in the center of a mixed-use community comprised of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, retail shops and offices. Post Properties acquired the lakefront land where the apartments will be built in 2007 when it acquired another 350-unit building. The average unit size for the third phase is 960 square feet, according to the apartment builder, and construction is expected to begin in the third quarter. The second project is called Post Parkside at Wade Phase I and is located near North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. The 392-unit apartment building will sit on more than 18,000 square feet of retail space facing the local town square park. Wade is a mixed-used community with more than 200,000 square feet of office space and several hundred single-family homes in the works. Construction is expected to begin in the fourth quarter. Industry professionals are increasingly focusing on the multifamily sector of the market as demand for rentals flourishes and homeownership rates fall. New analysis of Census Bureau data by USA Today suggests more than 500 mid-sized and large cities experienced a rise in the share of properties rented rather than owned. A Harvard University study found that rental housing stock is diminishing due to demolition, making conditions in this sector more difficult for consumers. Michael Barr, former Treasury Department assistant secretary, is coaxing politicians to instate a catastrophic federal backstop to the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac multifamily sectors. He believes more consumers will be renting in the future. Census Bureau data already suggest a shift in housing demand. The homeownership rate dropped to 66.4% in the first quarter, the lowest point since 1998, the Census found. Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR.