Selling the luxurious lifestyle

Share this:
January 27, 2014 // UPDATED 3:49 pm - January 29, 2014
By: Michelle Bruch
More than 1,000 new luxury units are opening in Southwest Minneapolis in an 18-month period.
Photo by Michelle Bruch
Michelle Bruch
Uptown’s newest residential developments are loaded with high-end amenities

The new luxury apartments in Southwest Minneapolis might be hotels in disguise. Most of them have a concierge. One could host a lobby bar. Others have complimentary breakfast, poker rooms, Peace coffee delivered by bicycle, saltwater natatoriums, art galleries and jazz music playing in the parking garage.

One of the priciest projects is leasing the fastest — 70 percent of units are leased at The Walkway, a smaller 92-unit project at Lagoon & Girard that opened this month. Most tenants leased it sight unseen, staff said, mainly learning about it through word of mouth.

“What we’re seeing is a demand for high quality in the rental market that’s just not available,” said General Manager Rob Hays. “They thought they were building it for doctors and lawyers. They were stunned at how many young urban professionals wanted to participate in this.”

Many of Elan Uptown’s new residents have come from out-of-state or out of the country. Elan secured Preferred Employer Programs with Fortune 500 companies like Target and Cargill, offering discount fees to new recruits.

“Location, location, location,” said Laura Longen, Elan’s community manager. “People want to be in the Uptown area and walking out the door to groceries and restaurants.”

CBRE Senior Vice President Abe Appert said that a year ago, Minneapolis had one of the top job markets in the nation and ranked second nationally for projected rent growth. The Flux Apartments at 28th & Fremont leased 216 units in five months, according to Greco.

“That’s unheard of,” said Greco Properties President Brent Rogers.

Since then, rental experts say the market is softening a bit. The four larger apartment buildings recently built along the Greenway are 20–60 percent leased. More than 1,200 units are coming online over the course of 18 months, with five projects located within two-and-a-half miles of each other.

“Some [of the slowdown] is seasonality, and some is all the supply coming on at the same time,” Appert said. “From a supply perspective, the Twin Cities was underserved in newer, nicer product in locations people wanted to be. In the grand scheme of things, this is a very sustainable level. It will just take a little time to absorb.”

There are more luxury apartments in the pipeline, with 177 units proposed for the Tryg’s restaurant site at 3118 W. Lake St., and 130 units proposed next to the Buzza building at 29th & Dupont.

Maxfield Research President Mary Bujold said new product tends to be high-end, because land costs are high.

“That’s what it costs to build them,” she said.

Long lists of amenities

“Every project has a different personality,” said Ross Fefercorn, principal of RMF Group. “The personality is the result of the developers’ point of view about who the market is, and it takes on a little of the personality of the developer and architect and marketing team.”

At Track 29, the vibe is reminiscent of the Walker Art Museum, Fefercorn said. The building features African wood called Prodema, which was panelized in Spain. A flat sheet of water runs vertically through the lobby — Fefercorn said the only one similar to this is located in the Krispy Kreme headquarters.

Track 29 contractors discovered 19th century railroad tracks during construction, and artist Andrew MacGuffie is making them into bike racks for the project. The tracks will also serve as the vertical posts on three drinking fountains to be installed on the greenway.

Be @ The Calhoun Greenway, located off the Greenway west of Lake Calhoun, offers a massage studio, indoor and outdoor pool, and a dedicated concierge.

The biggest project is Elan Uptown with 591 units, located north of the Greenway between Dupont and Fremont.

“Elan didn’t spare a penny when they built this property,” said Longen.

Elan has bamboo flooring from China, wine fridges, breakfast served twice a week, a dog park and dog wash, a poker room and outdoor amphitheater. A flat screen near the elevator indicates which unit’s dry cleaning is ready or has packages waiting.

At the Lime Apartments at 2900 Lyndale — with the ad line “luxury shmuxury” — there is a pool, fitness center and yoga studio. The developer is hoping to build a lobby café with a patio fronting the Greenway. At night, the coffeehouse would convert into a bar.

“There is nothing like that in Minneapolis,” Rogers said. “It feels like a much more exciting boutique hotel than an apartment building.”

The Walkway is also designed to catch the attention of passersby. The second-floor hot tub juts out over the Lake Street sidewalk. The new restaurant coup d’état plans a walkup window for food this summer. The developer is having conversations with eight different restaurant concepts vying for the corner of Lake & Girard. A 7-by-120-foot sign along Girard will look like a jumbotron with flat screens projecting images.

“We think it will be such an attraction, people will come and get their picture taken under The Walkway,” Hays said.

The Walkway is sending its entire staff to the Disney Institute for a week to reinforce the principles of five-star service. The building employs a concierge, bell captain, and health and wellness coordinator. A mobile app allows instant orders for services like dog-walking and room service. Instead of issuing keys for mailboxes, the mail is personally handed over by staff. The concierge is Jean Pierre Dechateau, who has worked around the world at venues like the Waldorf-Astoria, and tells stories about advising Mariah Carey on her pre-show routine.

“We really tried to sell a lifestyle change,” Hays said. “This is a lifestyle that’s not available unless you’re in New York.”

 

Project

Address

Developer

When Open

Number of units

How’s leasing

Leasing rates

The amenities

The Walkway

 

1312 W. Lake St.

 

Clark Gassen

Opened in January 2014, construction continues thru March

92

70 percent leased

Contact The Walkway for rates. Staff believe their rates are at the top of the market.

Residents have an app to contact a concierge who once worked with Mariah Carey. Complimentary breakfast and newspaper Monday thru Friday, private 2nd-floor restaurant, outdoor pool, credit for area fitness center membership, acoustically-wrapped building with soundproof doors and double windows.

Track 29 City Apartments

2841 Bryant Ave. S.

 

RMF Group and Phoenix Development

Opened in July 2013, construction ongoing

198

Two-thirds leased up

$1,350-$3,000+ per month

Indoor saltwater lap pool, dog park with heat lamps, curated art gallery, bike rack at every parking stall, coffee and tea service, rooftop deck, zen garden, top-level bridge connecting the two buildings, concierge, children’s play area with a train to climb, art in the parking garage. Green roof over parking garage serves as front yard for first-floor residents.

Lime Apartments

2900 Lyndale Ave. S.

 

Lyn-Lake Development Partners LLC

November 2013, construction ongoing

171

25 percent leased

The range is $1,200-$3,000, the average is $1,500 or $1,600 per month

Potential lobby café and wine bar by the Borough and Parlour team, pool, fitness center, yoga studio, rooftop party room.

Be @ The Calhoun Greenway

3140 Chowen Ave. S.

 

Bigos-Calhoun Greenway LLC

 

Opened December 2013

185

20 percent leased

$1,175-$2,115

Massage studio, indoor and outdoor pool, dedicated concierge, Midtown Greenway access.

Elan Uptown

North of the Greenway between Dupont and Fremont

 

Greystar

Opened last August, construction continues thru December 2014

591

35 percent occupied

About $1,385-$3,260

Direct Greenway access, pool, fitness center, bamboo flooring, wine fridges, silver LEED certification, breakfast served Tuesday and Thursday, dog park and dog wash, bike repair station, car wash, poker room, outdoor amphitheater.