A home of one’s own! A broad, grassy sward, flowerbeds, white picket fencing, in-ground pool, picture windows, fireplace…and the attendant seeding, mowing, shoveling, caulking, roofing, wood delivery, monthly mortgage…
Consider: It’s no longer your Father’s world. You’re not entering the workplace to toil for twenty-five years anticipating the engraved gold watch, the final handshake, and retirement in that same home behind the white picket fence.
Today, everything from manufacturing techniques to buying novels is changing—life is as fluid as quicksilver, and flexibility is also the watchword for home seekers. As the mandate to own wanes, rental options become more and more attractive, and the lure of an “urban-getaway” beckons.
Three luxury apartment complexes now under construction in the Downtown Minneapolis area embody this transition from free-standing houses and owned condo units to rental apartments as the space to call Home. Representatives from each–222 Hennepin, Vue, and Mill & Main–spoke recently with Lavender about their plans for the city’s fabulous new apartment dwellers.
Brenda Studt, Director of Marketing for The Excelsior Group’s 222 Hennepin property, slated to open in the summer of 2013, sees a clear desire for luxury rentals. “Yes, we think so. Especially among the younger generation that is beginning to make a name for themselves in the work force. Having witnessed the effects of the residential real estate market on their family homes, they are less apt to rush into a home purchase. They would rather retain their living flexibility and rent.”
Studt added that factors involved in the rental market are “a perfect storm of the above mentioned items, coupled with the fact that convenience is a huge priority for people of all ages. Young adults and empty-nesters alike want to rent their home so they can spend their time and money on things that really matter to them.”
Are most clients looking for a permanent or at least long-term dwelling, or are some–business people or visiting professors–planning on shorter-term stays in the Twin Cities? “Some companies,” Studt has found, “will require shorter leases, but a twelve-month lease is a pretty standard timeframe for most renters. However, as more people choose renting as a way of life, we may see longer leases, with annual built in increases.”
The seven-story 222 Hennepin at the corner of Hennepin and Washington Avenues comprises 286 upscale apartments ranging from 500 square feet for a studio to 1,560 square feet for a penthouse unit. There is a resident parking garage. Rents today, said Studt, go from $1,140 to $3,800 a month.
“Residents will enjoy stunning views of the Minneapolis skyline, the Mississippi, and the North Loop neighborhood from the rooftop deck, as well as from their rooms.” There is a Whole Foods on the ground floor, while other resident amenities include a swimming pool, bocce ball court, gourmet grill, and outdoor fireplace. Skyline Park Terrace and Courtyards will also provide areas in which to congregate and relax, and there are a variety of resident lounges like The Jag, a community bar/club and wine room. For the athletically inclined, 222 Hennepin features a 24-hour fitness club.
A popular attraction for many city-dwellers is that 222 Hennepin is pet friendly. They currently offer a dog run area, and they plan to provide pet concierge service in the future. The property is, she added, “100 percent smoke-free.” All construction in 222 Hennepin is aimed towards achieving certification for LEED. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is an internationally recognized mark of excellence, giving building owners and operators a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design solutions.
According to Studt, “The majority of our clients are renters by choice. They are seeking the flexible, nimble lifestyle that renting brings. There hasn’t been an instance yet that we have engaged in the renting vs. owning conversation. We don’t have to sway people to rent anymore—they want the lifestyle it brings.”
As to the specifics of the 222 Hennepin luxury apartment interiors, Studt praised, “Well thought out designs,” that include stainless steel fittings, Energy Star appliances, granite countertops, and a floating granite top island in the kitchen, espresso wood cabinetry, a full-size washer and dryer, oversized windows with solar shade treatments, a balcony, walk-in closets, linen closets, tiled showers, and plank flooring. “We’re certainly open to discussions about finishes,” she said, “however, 222 Hennepin will be delivered as designed by the architect.”
Others of The Excelsior Group’s properties, said Studt, “are in outer-ring suburbs and are performing well. Now, however, we are seeing a trend that renters are being drawn to an urban, walkable lifestyle making 222 Hennepin a great location for a new development.”
For more information, visit www.222Hennepin.com and/or call (612) 344-4000.
Kelly Doran, owner and principal of Doran Companies, offered insights on the growing trend towards renting rather than owning. “There are many factors that go into the buy-versus-rent question, but there are three important reasons why apartment living is a growing trend.”
“First, the Boomer demographic generally will own larger homes in Minneapolis and suburban neighborhoods, and very often a second home in the country or a on a lake. That’s a lot o’f real estate to maintain, so selling the big house and renting a brand-new, maintenance-free apartment can be very inviting. Think about it, no snow blowing, no lawn mowing, no real estate taxes, and no large association fees.”
“Second,” Doran continued, “many singles and young couples who may have had a bad experience owning a home, or were kept out of the housing market as a result of the Great Recession, may still have a large enough income to support a very nice urban apartment with no need to come up with a big down payment, annual real estate taxes, monthly mortgage payments, and, in the case of a condo, large monthly association fees.”
“Finally, for many the decision may not have anything to do with buy-versus-rent. Their choice may simply be influenced by the location and the amenities that a property has to offer. Clearly, the Mill & Main location on the river in an urban park setting, just a short walk across the iconic Stone Arch Bridge to Minneapolis’s business district and vibrant entertainment and restaurant venues, will be a real draw. Kind of the best of both worlds, a quiet, neighborhood feel, with all the advantages of urban living.”
Delving further into factors pertinent to the Twin Cities, Doran explained, “In markets like New York and Chicago, renting has been much more the norm than in Twin City urban areas. While renting has traditionally been entry-level housing for singles and young couples in Minneapolis, I think that’s going to change—partly because of demographics.”
“Families are smaller, Boomer’s nests are empty, but maybe even more than that are the changing attitudes toward driving and the high cost of energy. Studies have shown that housing in urban locations, within walking distance to mass transit, work places, grocery stores, restaurants, and parks are in great demand and assume greater real estate value.
“Again, as a developer, I can’t emphasize enough how important location is to the decision making process when considering whether to do a project. That there is a Lund’s grocery store a few blocks up the street, and parks, trails, and a river outside our front door certainly had a lot to do with our building of Mill & Main.”
Doran foresees both long- and short-term dwellers. “We are projecting a mix of tenants. I can see a couple in their 50s or early 60s living at Mill & Main for many years, while young professionals who work downtown might start out in a studio, but as their family and earning situation changes, eventually moving up to a two or three-bedroom unit.”
“We are close to the University of Minnesota and the downtown business district,” he added, “so it is likely that we could also have a fair amount of visiting professors and business executives who will rent for shorter periods. The ability to be flexible is yet another advantage of renting. A young professional never knows when his employer may ask him to transfer to another city. Renting can make that a much easier transition.”
Mill & Main, which will be completed in June of 2013, will be a seven-story building with 180 units and a parking garage. There are ten two-story townhouses at street level, and studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments ranging from 518 square feet to 1850 square feet on levels three through seven, with monthly rents ranging from $1,200 to $3,400. The apartments are pet friendly with the exception of floors three and seven, and will include a Pet Spa.
The building is smoke free.
Doran pointed out how Mill & Main’s features reflect its location. “The stone, metal, and glass exterior was inspired by the nearby Minneapolis Mill District with the goal of building an urban landmark that will stand the test of time. I am particularly proud of this project’s interior and exterior amenities. The Central Terrace on the third level is unrivaled, and our large five-diamond hotel-like lobby is elegantly designed and appointed.”
“In addition, I think it is important that we are a local, family owned business that develops, builds, and continues to own and manage our projects (unlike many developers who will hire out-of-state management firms to lease and manage their buildings). My staff works very hard to protect our reputation of setting a very high standard for maintenance of the projects we own and manage.”
Many of the Mill & Main apartments have spectacular views of the Mississippi River, Father Hennepin Park, and the Minneapolis downtown skyline. However, everyone will be able to enjoy the dramatic views and stunning sunsets from the expansive Central Terrace pool, spa, and outdoor lounging and dining area.
Mill & Main’s apartments come with several different distinctive design choices, but all have spacious balconies and stylish contemporary finishes. The central location of the building, Doran notes, is one of its biggest draws. “I believe people want to live in urban locations within walking distance to mass transit, their work places, grocery stores, restaurants, entertainment, and parks. It is this demand that we are responding to.”
Asked what he might tell a prospective client, Doran responded, “There are advantages to both [renting and owning], but in the end I would tell potential clients not to let either option keep them from living in a location or home that meets their needs and makes them happy.”
Doran has applied his apartment strategy in other venues as well. “Three years ago we started developing premier student housing projects at the University of Minnesota because I believed there was a demand. I now have three student housing projects at the university with another under construction, and they are all fully leased. I think you will see a similar trend in high-end rentals in downtown Minneapolis.”
For more information, visit www.millandmain.com.
Traci Thomas, President of the Continental Property Group (CPG), spoke about clients for their Vue project, now under construction at 415 Oak Grove Avenue in the Loring Park area. “More and more, people are discovering that there is a sense of freedom that can come from renting, and Vue will attract residents who are renters by choice.”
Thomas also sees multiple factors at work in the growing rental trend. “According to housing experts, the Minneapolis-St. Paul apartment market is among the healthiest in the country. Even during the housing downturn, the rental market was the one bright spot. We anticipate a strong market for the units in Vue when it is ready for occupancy in January of 2013. Other upscale, new-build apartment projects in the Twin Cities have actually filled up faster than expected and vacancies are especially low in the Loring Park area.”
Thomas anticipated that apartments serve a variety of needs for renters. “For some residents, Vue will be their primary home; for others it will serve as an urban getaway where they can enjoy all of the amenities available on-property and in this bustling Loring Park neighborhood and across the Twin Cities. They will bring a new vibrancy to this dynamic urban area, utilizing public transportation, nearby biking trails, local restaurants, and other close-by amenities. Vue is a seven-story building with six stories of apartments, 119 units in all, plus a parking garage. Apartment plans include twenty-six alcove units, forty-seven one-bedroom apartments, ten one-bedroom apartments with a den, thirty-three two-bedroom units and three two-bedroom units with a den. Some units have two levels and units range from 525 to 1,500 square feet, with monthly rents from $1,200 to $3,375 for a penthouse. Like other new luxury rentals, Vue is pet friendly, “welcoming all types and sizes of domestic pets,” Thomas said, and assured Vue will be smoke-free.
“Residents will enjoy an amenity-filled lifestyle in an intimate, boutique apartment setting,” Thomas continued. “The rooftop terrace, with multiple grilling stations, fireplace, and other comfort features, are designed to be a popular gathering area for residents. Just one example is the clubroom—complete with a commercial kitchen—that will open onto the rooftop terrace to reveal breathtaking views of downtown Minneapolis.
“Other onsite services include a Cyber café with office services, billiard area, private courtyard, native rain garden, and underground parking garage for residents and their guests. The well-appointed wellness center will feature the latest workout equipment, steam shower, and sauna.”
Vue residents of all types, Thomas concurs, are renters by choice, who “enjoy the freedom of not owning their own home, and who will bring a new vibrancy to this dynamic urban area.”
“Finally, Vue will offer all of the latest comforts and technologies that are desired by an urban professional seeking the latest trends in apartment living. Vue offers residents smart unit layouts in sizes from alcove to 2-bedroom plus den with two cabinet, countertop, and flooring options available, depending on the specific building floor selected. Additionally, units larger than alcove will be equipped with gas ranges.
“Since its inception in 1979,” Thomas concluded, “CPG has evolved into one of Minnesota’s strongest, most consistently creative commercial developers, serving all segments of the industry from neighborhood retail, medical buildings and office towers, to sprawling industrial compounds. While Vue is the first residential development project for CPG, our project team brings many years of success in this sector. Project partners, Greco Properties, BKV Group and Frana Companies bring a wealth of residential experience in this market.
For more information visit www.LoringVue.com.
Together, 222 Hennepin, Mill & Main, and Vue will provide 585 opportunities for city dwellers or urban retreaters to enjoy hassle-free luxury living. Whether in Downtown, St. Anthony Main, or Loring Park, renters will be able to delight in the rich theater, dining, shopping, and business opportunities of cutting-edge Minneapolitan life. Look sharp, the 585 will be snapped up quickly!