The announcement of the Columbus Commons Apartments made big news yesterday, and we learned that this new 300-unit six-story residential development will be opening in Downtown Columbus in 2014. Today we had a chance to talk with Scott Taylor, President of Carter, the Atlanta-based development firm that is bringing this project to life. Scott provides us with more detail on how much these apartment units will cost, how they want to try to attract an urban grocery store retailer to the project, and what drew them to the Columbus market in the first place.
Read on for our full interview:
Q: Can you tell us a bit about why Carter is interested in this development, both has it relates to the Columbus region as well as this specific site in Downtown Columbus?
A: The Columbus area has an extremely stable and diverse employment base, highly educated work-force, strong and stable growth over many years, great engagement and leadership from the private corporate community (through groups like Capitol South) and a strong commitment to investing in the city and doing the right things to help it grow.
This site is truly exceptional and that is what attracted us to this opportunity. Columbus Commons is a truly one-of-a-kind location that cannot be replicated in the market. Having a highly programmed and professionally managed six-acre urban park on our door-step is the most important amenity our project will have. We think that Capitol South has done an exceptional job on the park and we are excited to continue the investment.
Downtown residential has really started to take hold with great projects like the Arena District and we see that trend continuing, similar to what we are seeing in many other markets across the country. Couple that with the incredible investments that have been made in Downtown such as the Scioto Mile and Columbus Commons park, and we are extremely bullish on downtown residential in Columbus.
Q: So you consider the public investment made into the Columbus Commons site as an asset to the development and a draw for your firm’s interest in investing in the area?
A: Absolutely. A major attraction of urban residential communities is the amenity package that large scale projects can offer their residents. The tenants have come to expect great amenities and it is critical to provide the very best in order to effectively compete in today’s market. At Columbus Commons our best amenity will be the park. Having not just a beautiful park at our front door, but having that park so well programmed with concerts and events will be a huge factor for our residents and in fact we believe that the park will be the most important draw for people to live at this development.
Q: Who is the target audience for living in these new apartment units?
A: Our residents will predominantly be young professionals who value the urban lifestyle and want to enjoy living in the middle of a vibrant city. Typically our residents range in age from mid 20s to mid 30s but we also expect to welcome several “empty-nesters” who are looking to down-size and come enjoy the urban lifestyle.
Today, this group of people are choosing to rent vs. buy (even though they typically have the resources to afford a purchase) because it gives them more flexibility and because the recent real estate market events have shown that a purchase generally only makes economic sense if you are committed to staying in the home for five or more years.
Q: Are there plans to potentially convert the apartment units into condos in the future as the national housing market improves?
A: The development will be built to condominium quality standards and that will preserve the option to convert to condominiums down the road. That will all depend on the housing market and how the property is performing as an apartment, but we like having that option.
Q: What will the unit mix look like for the apartments?
A: The mix will be approximately 2/3rd 1-bedroom units and 1/3rd 2-bedroom units. We will only have a handful of townhome units on the park side of the building on the ground floor level.
Q: Have unit price points been determined?
A: We are planning for prices to start around $860 for the smaller units and go up to about $1,700 for the larger 2-bedroom units. The townhomes will be closer to $2,500.
Q: What other amenities will the apartment community offer to tenants?
A: Amenities will include a fitness center, a pool and outdoor deck and a resident club room. Washers and dryers will be included in all units.
Q: What type of retail mix are we likely to see at street level in this new development?
A: The retail space will take up most of the ground floor with all spaces fronting High street and some spanning through to have a park view as well. Targeted retailers will include sit-down restaurants, casual restaurants/cafes, service retail such as dry-cleaners, hair/beauty salons and potentially a small-format urban grocery. Our initial leasing focus will be on the two “signature” spaces that will flank the Town Street entrance to the park and have a vista out over the park – these spaces are specifically designed for sit-down restaurants and will include outdoor dining with a view of the park.
Q: With parking already existing both underground and in the neighboring garage, are there other accommodations being made for alternative transit provisions, such as indoor bike parking facilities or a signature bus stop shelter on High Street?
A: We don’t have any other specific plans at this point but we are continuing to study all of our options with both Capitol South and the City of Columbus.
Q: Anything else that we should know about the new development?
A: Just that we are thrilled to be working on such a wonderful project in such a great city with a fantastic group of people!