In an attempt to cater to a growing number of renters-by-choice, one of the nation's largest homebuilders is jumping on the apartment-building bandwagon.

Lennar Multifamily, a division of Miami-based Lennar Corp., plans to build a luxury apartment building in what has become a hotbed of housing development across from Southdale Center in Edina. On Wednesday, the company presented plans to the Edina City Council to demolish a furniture store and build an 273-unit upscale apartment building with retail on the first floor and five single-family houses at 6725 York Av. S.

If approved, that project would be among more than 700 luxury apartments planned for an area best-known for its upscale shopping, including a 232-unit apartment building that's already under construction across the street.

"It is without question one of the most dynamic suburban locations in the Twin Cities in terms of demographics, economics and livability — all of the factors that drive demand for multifamily," said Brent Wittenberg, vice president for Marquette Advisors.

Lennar declined to comment on the plan, but during a presentation to the city, the company said the apartment building would include 22,289 square feet of retail space, possibly a supermarket-deli, on the first level with a parking lot in on York Avenue. There would be underground parking for residents and guest parking on surface lots to the north and south of the building. The proposal requires amendments to the city's comprehensive plan to allow for a taller building and more density.

Wittenberg said that although thousands of apartment units are being built across the metro, he's optimistic about the prospects for this location, which fetches higher-than-average rents and has suffered from a shortage of apartment development in recent years.

If built, the 6725 York Av. project would be the first for Lennar Multifamily, which was launched by Miami-based Lennar Corp. in January. The company said that it plans to build more than 3,000 apartments around the country. Lennar was the largest homebuilder in Minnesota last year.

John Wanninger, a real estate agent for Lakes/Sotheby's Realty in the Galleria, said the 18-story Westin Edina Galleria condo-hotel tower is down to its last 10 condominiums, and his Edina clients are often stymied in their attempts to find good luxury rentals in the area.

"Logic would tell me that if the market gets overbuilt, this will win out over the surrounding suburban locations," he said. "My clients who need temporary housing have very, very limited choices and many of those opportunities were in older buildings lacking amenities and modern, creature comforts, so these new buildings will appeal to just about every demographic spectrum you can imagine."

The Edina apartment boom, which includes nearly 100 units that will be built as part of the redevelopment of the Byerly's store on France Avenue, follows the recent renovation of Southdale and the plans to expand the Galleria.

Lisa Moe, president and CEO of the Stuart Cos., which is building the nearby One Southdale Place apartments in partnership with Simon Property Group, the owner of Southdale, said that there's clearly a relationship between the area's renowned shopping and demand for housing.

Wanninger agrees.

"This is going to be huge for the surrounding businesses," he said. "This is a great outcome if you're the owner of one of these establishments."