Saturday, April 9, 2011

Demand high for Tempe's West 6th luxury apartments

The bird's-eye views from the long-stalled high-rises in downtown Tempe were stunning enough to draw gasps from those who last week took a guided tour of the West 6th luxury apartments.

Last week marked the first time prospective renters could tour the units since Tempe's tallest buildings were sold to the Zaremba Group and the project was converted from high-end condominiums to apartments. The scheduled tours of about 25 people were booked through the week, said Capstone Cos. leasing agent Preston Baehr. Despite the still-lagging real-estate market, demand for the apartments is high, he said.

The 10 three-bedroom units in the 22-story tower, which is expected to be open by August, were leased within in the first five hours Capstone started accepting applications. The units, at $1,995 a month, are the most affordable for roommates to share. Studios start at $945, one-bedrooms at $1,175 and two-bedrooms at $1,550.

Bob Kammrath, of Mesa real-estate research firm Kammrath & Associates, said the property is benefiting from the buzz of being the new kid on the block. West 6th is also getting a marketing boost because of the years of publicity surrounding the towers since the project broke ground six years ago as Centerpoint Condominiums, he said.

When the real-estate market was flush, Centerpoint's studios were slated to sell at prices beginning in the mid $300,000s and larger units beginning at $1 million.

Kammrath said the initial interest in the apartments could help fill the first wave of units but suggested Zaremba may have difficulty filling the majority of its inventory. Once the 30-story Tower II is completed in December, West 6th is expected to have 375 units. Kammrath said the project will face competition from the flood of affordable rental homes available in the Phoenix metro area.

"Houses are much bigger than any apartment," he said. "Frequently, you find tenants who are bundling up (and saying) three or four of us can rent . . . a house that has three bathrooms and I get my own private swimming pool rather than a community pool."

But Baehr, a Tempe resident and Arizona State University graduate, says the students and Valley residents who are lining up to rent at West 6th are looking for a lifestyle different from that of the average home renter.

"We knew there was going to be demand, but it's far exceeded our expectations," he said. "You're paying for the entire experience. The incredible views as far as you can see. The incredible pool deck, our spa, our tanning facilities, our gym that is going to be all brand-new, state-of-the-art equipment."

West 6th's development plan includes penthouses on the top floors, underground parking, a conference and study area and mixed retail that could include a small grocery store and restaurant.

Nico Svoboda, a 22-year-old ASU student, applied for a three-bedroom apartment without seeing it in person. His was among a three-page-deep list of applications.

Svoboda joked that waiting to hear on his application was "more stressful than school."

While on his first tour of the apartments last week, Svoboda snapped photos from the window of a 17th-floor unit, one floor below his future home. On the tour, prospective renters called Svoboda "one of the lucky ones" to have secured a three-bedroom to share with roommates.

"I wanted to be able to live somewhere cool my senior year," he said. "I'd consider this the ultimate."

Svoboda said he was looking forward to "being able to walk onto my balcony and see that view. And, honestly, be able to see the building at a distance and say I live there."

Joy and Ron Clark were on the same tour as Svoboda. The couple are eager to trade in their Ahwatukee home for a West 6th unit.

"We're looking for high-rise living," Joy said. "The kids are grown, we don't want a pool to keep up with, we don't need all that space. We want to have a sexy house."

Ron said he finds the urban lifestyle more attractive than suburban living.

"I was born and raised in Tempe. I own a business just near here. I'd bike to work," he said. "I think this is great for Tempe."

The high-rises are a landmark change in development for Tempe and the Valley, said Adolfo Salazar, who moved to Arizona about two years ago from Hollywood. Salazar hopes to rent a two-bedroom unit.

"I've never seen anything like it before in Arizona," he said. "People in California don't expect Arizona to have anything like this. This is what we need more of in Phoenix."

by Dianna M. Náñez The Arizona Republic Apr. 8, 2011 01:29 PM

Demand high for Tempe's West 6th luxury apartments

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