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Urban Pioneer
09-20-2011, 07:07 AM
I think it was a profit issue early on and a lack of understanding/capability to actually do it. Local developers built what most people (especially Bomber here) think of as high-end to raise profit from smaller building at higher quality.

The market bubble popped and we are restabilizing. Aparments demonstrate the desire for the price point. The problem is that mostblocsl developers do not have the capability, financing ability, or desire to take on the risk building on the scale to gain the efficiences generating the lower cost units/profitability. But it will eventually come.

Spartan
09-20-2011, 11:49 AM
Spartan - find a "spotty" development I've been in favor of. Back up the claim.

As Rover said, what I'm looking for is diversity in the market....a balance. Find me a CBD (NOT Deep Deuce area, NOT Midtown....CBD) development anyone has tossed around in the last 20 years that would hit even the 1000 a month rent. The last time anything like that was built, it was at the bust, went from highrise to suburban complex and still sits there next to the Civic Center. Legacy Corner is the next closest thing you'll find...and honey, it doesn't qualify.

Everything we see is for upscale...and mostly not in the rental market. I'm not trying to match suburbia here, but you find me a city that is capable of maintaining a upscale only residential network in their CBD. So far we've seen that OKC cannot. We've had so many re-development projects of old structures into upscale residential that the market is full now...to the point that new projects like Carnegie cannot get off the ground. Not to mention the fact that is appears that the upscale now are making it clear that they no longer wish to live in the CBD. So while the old United Founders Tower is now full up on the NW side, where are we on Carnegie and Dowell? Not to mention the others around here.

So you go ahead and defend the upscale ideal. Come back and talk to me when it crashes even further.....paid any attention to market conditions in the last 5 years? FYI - upscale was the first to go and will be the last to recover. And it also causes a waterfall since the places sit empty during the in-between. Then the owners of those properties go under with the lack of income, starting the snowball to the next level.

What I want is diversity and balance in the market. Not letting it tip to one side or the other. Not all upscale, not Section 8 either. But we've told the residents of OKC that if you aren't rich, you can't live in the CBD...oh but you can have a suburban style apartment just outside it in Deep Deuce....yeah, cause that's the same thing, right? A fake Brownstone is totally the same as living in a highrise....please.

Bomber, it's difficult for me to get into the exact same argument with you as always. I'll write something later..

Rover
09-20-2011, 12:23 PM
I don't think some on here understand what construction costs are and why prime development areas should not be filled with truly cheap construction. Many compare the per foot cost of cheaply built slab and stick suburban tract housing with what is required for sustainability and durability in an urban area which is expected to be functional for decades. There are many ways to cheapen apartment buildings. This debate isn't about affordability, but cheap vs. appropriate construction. When people think those who make more than $50,000 are "rich", the bar is set way too low. We have to get out of that mentality that the ONLY thing that matters is how cheaply we can buy for, and how little we can pay people. The great thing about the movement of the energy companies to downtown is the average salary and the fact it makes the appropriately constructed living structures downtown "affordable" for more.

My defense isn't for "rich" or "poor", but for affordability, diversity, mix, etc. My defense is for building a downtown all will be welcome and will have an appropriate lifestyle according to their interests and spending habits. My defense is for buildings which will last, be structurally sound, useful, and desirable for decades, not just a few years.

mcca7596
09-20-2011, 01:32 PM
Find me a CBD (NOT Deep Deuce area, NOT Midtown....CBD) development anyone has tossed around in the last 20 years that would hit even the 1000 a month rent.

Well, Park Harvey has Studio and one bedroom apartments for less than $1000 (I think their cheapest is $775 actually) and it is unquestionably in the CBD. Also, I think most people would consider the Regency to be just on the edge of The CBD and most of their rents are less than $1000 (it currently shows their cheapest to be $772 for a studio, but I know that just a couple of months ago it was under $700).

Urban Pioneer
09-20-2011, 01:41 PM
My defense isn't for "rich" or "poor", but for affordability, diversity, mix, etc. My defense is for building a downtown all will be welcome and will have an appropriate lifestyle according to their interests and spending habits. My defense is for buildings which will last, be structurally sound, useful, and desirable for decades, not just a few years.

Exactly. And that is why good construction with quality materials can only be provided to folks with "average Oklahoma" median incomes when designs realize efficiencies gained from repetition. We hopefully can eventually get to a point that a condominium tower made of glass and steel can provide such an outlet. To me, the closest that such an outlet has come thus far is Central Avenue Villas. Note that condo's priced $180 - $240 are completely sold as I understand it. It is a solid example of a small attempt to fill this need and realize a profit from it.

The apartments are incredible incubators for permanent residents by commanding median mortgage rates. However, they are incubator for suburbia, not downtown as there is little housing that has comparable mortgage payments to apartment rent.

Let's be real about this. Having higher wage earners downtown is great, but only true healthy downtowns are built around diversity. And that subsequently means diverse housing. The "Oklahoma median" household mortgage has been left out of the mix as early developers rushed to fill perceived "upper" income needs with more boutique type projects.

Urban Pioneer
09-20-2011, 01:42 PM
Well, Park Harvey has Studio and one bedroom apartments for less than $1000 (I think their cheapest is $775 actually) and it is unquestionably in the CBD. Also, I think most people would consider the Regency to be just on the edge of The CBD and most of their rents are less than $1000 (it currently shows their cheapest to be $772 for a studio, but I know that just a couple of months ago it was under $700).

But the issue at hand is that those are apartments with rents, not mortgages.

Rover
09-20-2011, 01:46 PM
Okay, I'll bite. What is the hole in the market? What price points for condo's would lead to a healthy development that would sell out? $ per foot? Square footage & bedrooms? Are common use amenities included? If so, what kind?

Urban Pioneer
09-20-2011, 02:05 PM
Look, I'm not a market analyst or a broker who knows sqf pricing. However, you have nearly 900 apartment units or more generating rents that are consistently between $850 - $1,500 per month.

I have lived downtown for 10 years and have observed that those people who want to own something choose to move to suburbia while many of them would like to remain downtown but there is no product for them with a comparable monthly mortgage.

If the discussion is quality materials versus cheap materials, I think Central Avenue Villas is a great example where permanent steel, concrete, and brick are being used and the units priced $180 - $ 240 have completely sold out. The reality is that many people would like to stay downtown but reach a point where they cannot justify the monthly rent with no return in investment. There is very little product for that customer to have an option for ownership and become an invested member in downtown redevelopment. Those people are lost to suburbia or other neighborhoods. I am sure that some of those former apartment dwellers are posters here on OKCtalk too and can probably speak to this.

betts
09-20-2011, 03:09 PM
People who pay $850 to $1500 a month for rent can probably afford a $250 - 450,000 mortgage, as today's rates would generate a payment of about comparable size. However, to get a loan of that size, you need a $25,000 to $90,000 downpayment, which I would guess is at least part of the sticking point. In our previous economic climate, with minimal downpayments, I suspect a lot of people would be choosing to live downtown and more construction of "for sale" buildings would be underway. With strict rules for qualifications and large downpayments, it's more difficult to sell real estate, especially condo real estate. Developers can throw up an apartment building and generate rental income immediately, rather than having to wait for sales. I don't really see a large "for sale" development such as a tower taking place unless the economic climate changes. Perhaps some of the current rentals will become for sale housing over time. My father-in-law built large rental apartment towers in New York and Connecticut back in the day, and they are almost entirely owner occupied now.

Rover
09-20-2011, 03:15 PM
Even Founders Tower started For Sale and then compromised with for rent at lower levels and for sale at higher floors. This is a good strategy. I understand they are now full. Eventually it will probably be converted fully to for sale as it matures. That strategy might work downtown for a residential tower.

gracefor24
09-20-2011, 03:35 PM
Okay, I'll bite. What is the hole in the market? What price points for condo's would lead to a healthy development that would sell out? $ per foot? Square footage & bedrooms? Are common use amenities included? If so, what kind?

I think if prices are comparable to Heritage Hills/Mesta Park you begin to see way more buyers. Now you have a decision to make. But when DD condos are asking over $200 psf and Heritage Hills is $160-$180 you are fighting a major uphill battle.

Rover
09-20-2011, 04:43 PM
Depends on amenities, etc. Lots of Heritage Hills homes are in need of much repair, maintenance, etc., and have high utilities costs etc. due to their age. The two are apples and oranges. You either have demand downtown at prices it cost to build there, or you don't.

gracefor24
09-20-2011, 08:02 PM
Depends on amenities, etc. Lots of Heritage Hills homes are in need of much repair, maintenance, etc., and have high utilities costs etc. due to their age. The two are apples and oranges. You either have demand downtown at prices it cost to build there, or you don't.

They aren't apples and oranges when it comes to real buyers. I know numerous buyers have bought into HH/MP instead of DD due to the bang for your buck. Not to mention amenities are basically the same at this point if not in favor of HH. I'm within walking distance of Automobile Alley, MidTown, and 23rd from my house.

Block 42 is a great example, they dropped their prices and saw activity increase almost instantly. The other developments that aren't in that 180-250k price range are still languishing. Hard to sell a 2500 square foot condo for 600K when you can get the same size within 2 miles for 400K. Thats a big difference! With price difference of 50-75 psf it is always going to be a tough sell until the amenities and lifestyle can make a compelling case.

betts
09-20-2011, 09:20 PM
The Hill seems to be moving, and I've heard they're selling at close to $300 a square foot. I noticed another "sale pending" sign today. I think it's as much about perception as price, as there are certainly places in Oklahoma City and Edmond where houses cost significantly more than what downtown property is selling for. There are a lot of people in Oklahoma City who cannot imagine not having a yard or a pool. I don't miss the yard, but I must admit this summer a pool sounded good. I had a house the size of houses in Heritage Hills, with the yard and all, and I got tired of it. I like being able to walk to the movies, walk to Bricktown, pop over to the river to ride my bike, etc. But, as much as that, I like the way my house looks and lives. I like watching fireworks on the porch on New Year's Eve and Fridays in the summer. I like hearing the trains. I always wanted to live in a row house and that's what I'm doing for the first time in my life. But perhaps there aren't a lot of people in OKC who dreamed of living in Georgetown or New York, and having three or four stories. It's not what they're used to. I get questions about living downtown constantly from people. It's a favorite topic of conversation. But I can tell, for most of them, it's an oddly interesting concept, not something they're longing for.

Rover
09-20-2011, 09:44 PM
So, the determinant is not location and urban life, but rather buying what is cheaper per foot. LOL. To grow downtown we need to build cheap projects, I guess. Who cares about 20 years from now. I had hopes OKC was maturing beyond this and could sustain a real downtown with people committed to the lifestyle.

Just the facts
09-21-2011, 06:09 AM
I think some of you are trying to rush the natural progression of growth. OKC has to grow the apartment product first. After the apartment market is saturated then the condo conversions start. Developers tried to by-pass the apartment step already and it didn't work. It will take a while for the downtown apartment market to reach a point where condon conversions can start - maybe another 7 to 10 years. Until then, expect a lot of rental units to be built, maybe even a high-rise or two.

gracefor24
09-21-2011, 07:25 AM
So, the determinant is not location and urban life, but rather buying what is cheaper per foot. LOL. To grow downtown we need to build cheap projects, I guess. Who cares about 20 years from now. I had hopes OKC was maturing beyond this and could sustain a real downtown with people committed to the lifestyle.

LOL. Nice answer. The point is you are asking people to pay for something that doesn't exist yet when they can get something really nice very close for cheaper. Not to mention as I addressed in my post, which you ignored, you can get all the same amenities living in those cheaper neighborhoods. And if you want to talk about quality of construction the replacement cost of my home would be double if you were to try and build it today.

The bottom line is if you speak to any developer in DD they will admit they overshot the market. It is just going to take time for the neighborhood to catch up. And if you look at recent sales it is catching up.

gracefor24
09-21-2011, 07:32 AM
It's nice to see activity at The Hill. I think it's obvious with 3 sales in 2011 they are still over the market. According to the County Assessor they are selling for around $235. But again they had 3 sales in 2010 and have had 3 so far this year.

I agree it's not necessarily the price but the buyer and most people in OKC who can afford a 500k mortgage is a family who is used to living in Edmond or Nichols Hills and if they are moving toward the urban center they are looking at Heritage Hills. I can say, however, that as a young family I would love to live in DD but just can't justify the price difference between a bungalow in Heritage Hills at $100 psf vs a condo in DD at $200 psf.


The Hill seems to be moving, and I've heard they're selling at close to $300 a square foot. I noticed another "sale pending" sign today. I think it's as much about perception as price, as there are certainly places in Oklahoma City and Edmond where houses cost significantly more than what downtown property is selling for. There are a lot of people in Oklahoma City who cannot imagine not having a yard or a pool. I don't miss the yard, but I must admit this summer a pool sounded good. I had a house the size of houses in Heritage Hills, with the yard and all, and I got tired of it. I like being able to walk to the movies, walk to Bricktown, pop over to the river to ride my bike, etc. But, as much as that, I like the way my house looks and lives. I like watching fireworks on the porch on New Year's Eve and Fridays in the summer. I like hearing the trains. I always wanted to live in a row house and that's what I'm doing for the first time in my life. But perhaps there aren't a lot of people in OKC who dreamed of living in Georgetown or New York, and having three or four stories. It's not what they're used to. I get questions about living downtown constantly from people. It's a favorite topic of conversation. But I can tell, for most of them, it's an oddly interesting concept, not something they're longing for.

betts
09-21-2011, 07:51 AM
I think most people with a young family want a yard and so it's unlikely downtown will ever be a mecca for people with growing families. That's why most of the people in Deep Deuce are young, single, DINKS (double income, no kids) or empty nesters. I've said often that if I had a family, I'd buy one of the lots in SOSA and build a skinny house, because it would give me a yard, and yet I'd have proximity to downtown. For me, I don't need a yard, and I like the cost savings of having a townhouse. I've commented frequently, and it's true, that I save $30,000 + a year in utilties, taxes, insurance and yard maintenance from living where I do over what I spent when I had a traditional house and yard. That was a new house too, without the maintenance costs of an older home. Add in maintenance and you're well over $30,000. So, over ten years, I've saved $300,000 living in a house that has all the amenities of my last house, save the yard. That makes the price of my home quite reasonable. And, for me, I choose where I live not only because of what it costs me, but what I get out of it. Obviously there are different points of view, and that's why we have these discussions. So, if people aren't willing to pay what it costs to build downtown and yet they want to live downtown, they rent. Eventually some of those rentals will be for sale, and they'll be the most affordable places to live. It will all work out.

I've actually been shocked at how inexpensive Heritage Hills houses are, also. Buying a comparable house in Nichols Hills would, at least before the bust when I knew prices, have cost $350/sq foot. So, they're a bargain, relative to the competition. I think it's a good deal, for people who want a yard. That doesn't mean houses in downtown are overpriced for what the builders put into them, however. I've yet to see actual construction costs for any of the houses downtown, compared to asking price.

Just the facts
09-21-2011, 08:16 AM
I think most people with a young family want a yard and so it's unlikely downtown will ever be a mecca for people with growing families.

Just wait until the big backyards known as Central and Prominade Parks are finished.

betts
09-21-2011, 08:29 AM
You may be right, Kerry. It may be awhile, though, before we've got developers willing to invest in "for sale" downtown again. It has to be profitable for them or they're going to stay away. Or, because of the park location, prices will be too expensive for most young families. My nephew lives right on Central Park with his wife and two kids, but they've got an apartment that most families here would consider unacceptably small, at prices most people would consider waaaaaay unacceptably high.

Urban Pioneer
09-21-2011, 08:45 AM
So, the determinant is not location and urban life, but rather buying what is cheaper per foot. LOL. To grow downtown we need to build cheap projects, I guess. Who cares about 20 years from now. I had hopes OKC was maturing beyond this and could sustain a real downtown with people committed to the lifestyle.

I think that there are many quality people who would commit, but don't make significantly above the median income of the average Oklahoman. Regarding "20 years from now", again, I think that Central Ave Villas demonstrates that long lasting materials can be used and provide housing at pricing that taps into this market. In fact, Han Butzer specifically told me that they were trying to do just that while not using materials that would easily decay.

Another component to this conversation is the lack of availability of financing that would enable a broader range of candidates to purchase. That has historically been a huge issue for most over the past 10 years. Even for those with above median incomes with cash for down payments.

Rover
09-21-2011, 08:47 AM
There are those that prefer urban life and those that prefer suburban. It will always be like that. We are trying to reverse decades of preferences and habits here. It is tough to do. So, instead of having urban dwellers that have grown up here and understand it, we have to appeal to market segments accepting of the lifestyle and to surround them with appropriate services and venues. It will take appeal to several niches but there is not a mass appetite here yet. If we overemphasize any particular group, whether it is for cheap rents or overpriced urban pads, we simply will not have enough people with enough preference to create the kind of critical mass we need. We should support developments like Carnegie for a certain demographic AND support cheap and cheerful party apartment complexes near btown.

Urban Pioneer
09-21-2011, 09:23 AM
There are those that prefer urban life and those that prefer suburban. It will always be like that. We are trying to reverse decades of preferences and habits here. It is tough to do. So, instead of having urban dwellers that have grown up here and understand it, we have to appeal to market segments accepting of the lifestyle and to surround them with appropriate services and venues. It will take appeal to several niches but there is not a mass appetite here yet. If we overemphasize any particular group, whether it is for cheap rents or overpriced urban pads, we simply will not have enough people with enough preference to create the kind of critical mass we need. We should support developments like Carnegie for a certain demographic AND support cheap and cheerful party apartment complexes near btown.

Again, I personally do not believe that people with average median incomes should be forced to only have apartment living downtown as a viable option. Downtown should be for everyone. And that means the opportunity for citizens to permanently invest at every level thus creating a more viable "whole." Part of the downtown issue with becoming permanently successful is obtaining a critical mass of people that becomes self propagating. If that can be done with quality permanent materials, then we should build at the median income levels as well as the above average income levels.

The developers have chosen not to do that as of yet, but that isn't any reason for them not to consider it in the near future. The Carnegie is a great concept and will thrive when things further stabilize. It offers a unique product that we have not seen. But there is an even broader needed price spectrum downtown as well.

betts
09-21-2011, 09:24 AM
I agree completely Rover. I also think that as the areas around downtown fill in, people will be less uncomfortable about a bigger investment, because they won't have to wonder what is going in the empty lot behind them. I knew it was a short-term gamble moving downtown, from a financial standpoint, but I also knew that I would enjoy the lifestyle and could stay until people's attitudes changed. I'm also at a point in my life where I'm more interested in what I want than how much money I can make from the sale of my house, i.e. it's "investment worthiness". But, the cheap and cheerful will almost certainly be rentals, at least for now, for reasons UP enumerated. It's far harder to accumulate the money for a downpayment than it is to afford the monthly payment. And that makes "for sale" development, even at lower prices, a gamble for developers right now.

betts
09-21-2011, 09:32 AM
Again, I personally do not believe that people with average median incomes should be forced to only have apartment living downtown as a viable option. Downtown should be for everyone. And that means the opportunity for citizens to permanently invest at every level thus creating a more viable "whole." Part of the downtown issue with becoming permanently successful is obtaining a critical mass of people that becomes self propagating. If that can be done with quality permanent materials, then we should build at the median income levels as well as the above average income levels.

The developers have chosen not to do that as of yet, but that isn't any reason for them not to consider it in the near future. The Carnegie is a great concept and will thrive when things further stabilize. It offers a unique product that we have not seen. But there is an even broader needed price spectrum downtown as well.

While I essentially agree with you, UP, I think we have too narrow a concept of "downtown". If we spread that designation over 4 square miles, we encompass a lot of affordable housing that, once we have better mass transit, is far more urban than the suburbs. That's what I've seen in bigger cities, where people who cannot afford the CBD, still have a very urban lifestyle. One of the reasons our closer-in housing doesn't seem urban is because of the architectural styles chosen when this city was built, and because of how much was torn down downtown. There are very few places that have loft potential; there are no row houses. People cannot yet ride the streetcar or easily ride a bus downtown, and so they don't feel as connected to the city center as people living a few miles out in cities with great mass transit.

And, back to topic, I agree that the Carnegie Centre is a great concept and look forward to a time when the developers feel they have a market that appreciates what they're offering. It's expensive to convert buildings to alternate use and, if they don't feel they can make a profit or sell what they've developed, I can understand the hesitancy of developers.

bombermwc
09-22-2011, 07:11 AM
Well, Park Harvey has Studio and one bedroom apartments for less than $1000 (I think their cheapest is $775 actually) and it is unquestionably in the CBD. Also, I think most people would consider the Regency to be just on the edge of The CBD and most of their rents are less than $1000 (it currently shows their cheapest to be $772 for a studio, but I know that just a couple of months ago it was under $700).

The Regency is what I'm talking about. Park Harvey is a bit higher than it's really worth. But what i'm counting is that we have 1, uno, single option downtown for non-upscale housing. And it's 40 years old. What I would like to see is a similar tower option downtown for the same price range. People are trying to put words in my mouth and think i'm saying put in something that's 500 a month. There is a HUGE difference and even between that and 750. I realize that being downtown, you pay more per square foot....that's excatlly why so many of the younger crowd move out of downtown....it's cheaper further out. But why not give them an option to say? The younger crowd is what's going to give a heartbeat to the CBD after 5pm. Not some upscale older couple that head over to Midtown for dinner and then back home for the evening.

And just because it's built as a non-upscale building doesn't mean it's doomed to be crap in 20 years either. If that were true, then NYC wouldn't have the diversity of housing it does for its couple hundred years it has been around. Or for that matter, any other city. Check out Kansas City and see what kind of 100 years old midrises exist right near some of the most expensive shopping in town. They are the most boring things you've seen since they're early 1900's plain brick 15 floor buildings, but they are still good housing at a fair price 100 years later. That type of example exists in every major city, so you can't say that they don't exist....and when they were built, Kansas City was NOT the city it is today. In fact, they had very little reason to build up at that time, but they did, and it's paid off for them now.

betts
09-22-2011, 10:10 AM
The key word is "were built". Anything that is still standing 100 years later is probably high quality construction. It's like the discussion about Heritage Hills. Why is it so affordable? Because, when those houses were built, they were built for probably one hundredth what they cost now, at most. Prices have risen over the years, but if you were to build one of those houses from scratch it would cost far more to build at the quality that exists in them than they sell for now. If you were to try to duplicate those apartments in Kansas City, I suspect that they would be more expensive to build than they are to renovate. If we had all the old buildings that a lot of cities have, we would have affordable housing. We tore a bunch of ours down, and that left a dearth of renovatable buildings for housing in the CBD. But even those apartments near the Plaza aren't downtown. They're a mile from downtown. We have affordable housing a mile from downtown too. There are some interesting old apartment buildings just south of 23rd St. and as I've said, the Plaza District, Jefferson Park, SoSA, etc have a lot of affordable housing. We could have affordable lofts in Bricktown too, if someone wanted to develop them. It's hard to believe that all those buildings that utilize only the first floor wouldn't make more money selling or leasing lofts than letting the space sit empty. So, sell the idea to a developer. There are probably a few who read this blog from time to time. Those are the kinds of places that are traditionally affordable for younger people: bare lofts with basic plumbing. If they want a fancy kitchen and granite countertops, a jetted tub, etc for cheap, they'd better plan on renting or moving to the burbs.

bombermwc
09-23-2011, 08:55 AM
If they want a fancy kitchen and granite countertops, a jetted tub, etc for cheap, they'd better plan on renting or moving to the burbs.

I'll just say it once...First National. The poster child for potential residential conversion (requiring tearing down to the studs).

There really isn't any GOOD reason that it has to be that way though either. You can provide a non-loft approach with a nice living space and not make it cost an arm and a leg. No it doesn't have to have granite and a jacuzi either. Just normal living space...that's what I'm after. That's exactlly what you see in places like Regency. Just the plain old laminate counters like 99% of us have. A normal tub/shower like 99% of us have (in fact i never use the jacuzzi tub at my own house. it just collects dust). What you have to find, is someone willing to invest in the building long term. The ROI is going to be slow. The plus side for the city in that regard is you get commited investor that stays with the city for longer rather than the "flipper" type we're seeing these days. The short term ROI upscalers have no intention of holding on to the property. And if you think they are, then you're kidding yourself.

Unfortunately, we lack a base of investors here that are as commited to the city as their wallot. You can have your cake and eat it too, but you just have to pace it so you don't get fat.

Rover
09-23-2011, 09:18 AM
For the life of me, I don't understand why people expect investors/developers to invest in sub-standard projects just to prove they are "loyal". Most projects are done from a profit motive...imagine that. Most projects are done because the investor perceives it to be the highest and best use of their capital assets and fitting of their corporate objectives. They aren't in the business of being benefactors. Why is it any more reasonable to expect them to forego profits so that a group can get a good deal on their rent than to expect renters/purchasers to pay fair value as a way of proving THEIR loyalty? Surely people aren't that naive.

bombermwc
09-26-2011, 03:17 PM
Sub Standard? Why is it sub-standard just because it's not upscale? Forgive me also if i don't shed a tear for the real estate investor. They've done such a bang up job lately after all. And besides that, they DO still make a profit, otherwise the things wouldn't exist and we'd go from building a new upscale project to demolition rather than filter down. The return may not be as fast, but that's entirely my point, sir. That "commitment" is being willing to wait a little longer. By default, you create a connection to the community simply because you have more staying power. Tis like a star, the brighter she burns, the faster she dies.

betts
09-26-2011, 07:55 PM
I saw this in the New York Times today and thought it was fitting. I don't care whether something is upscale or not. What I would like to see is projects that are well-built, be they expensive or inexpensive. The people who argue that it's better to fill up space with cheap construction because it can always be torn down are not thinking ahead. What has made us wish to mimic great old cities is the fact that there are buildings there that have staying power....that combined great or interesting design with quality construction. If that's too expensive for some right now, so be it. If developers don't feel they can make money building lower cost, quality housing downtown, so be it. As a new neighborhood ages, housing usually becomes more affordable. Over time, there's a cycle downwards until they are affordable to almost everyone, and that's when the creative class moves in to fix them up and start the cycle back up again. That's what we're seeing in the Plaza District, the Paseo, Jefferson Park. That's where people who want affordable housing close to downtown should be looking. And, as we improve mass transit, those areas will feel closer in and have a much more urban feel, just like neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Bucktown and Lincoln Park in Chicago. They feel very urban, and yet they're several miles from downtown.

"The greenest and most economical architecture is ultimately the architecture that is preserved because it’s cherished. Bad designs, demolished after 20 years, as so many ill-conceived housing projects have been, are the costliest propositions in the end.

Of course a building consists of more than its skin and the claims of its makers. Its aesthetics remain inseparable from its function. It has to work, for the people who use it and live with it, not just see it."

Rover
09-28-2011, 04:24 PM
I saw this in the New York Times today and thought it was fitting. I don't care whether something is upscale or not. What I would like to see is projects that are well-built, be they expensive or inexpensive. The people who argue that it's better to fill up space with cheap construction because it can always be torn down are not thinking ahead. What has made us wish to mimic great old cities is the fact that there are buildings there that have staying power....that combined great or interesting design with quality construction. If that's too expensive for some right now, so be it. If developers don't feel they can make money building lower cost, quality housing downtown, so be it. As a new neighborhood ages, housing usually becomes more affordable. Over time, there's a cycle downwards until they are affordable to almost everyone, and that's when the creative class moves in to fix them up and start the cycle back up again. That's what we're seeing in the Plaza District, the Paseo, Jefferson Park. That's where people who want affordable housing close to downtown should be looking. And, as we improve mass transit, those areas will feel closer in and have a much more urban feel, just like neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Bucktown and Lincoln Park in Chicago. They feel very urban, and yet they're several miles from downtown.

"The greenest and most economical architecture is ultimately the architecture that is preserved because it’s cherished. Bad designs, demolished after 20 years, as so many ill-conceived housing projects have been, are the costliest propositions in the end.

Of course a building consists of more than its skin and the claims of its makers. Its aesthetics remain inseparable from its function. It has to work, for the people who use it and live with it, not just see it."

Bravo. This is all I have been trying to say...but not so eloquently as you did. It is not about upscale or downscale, but a sustaining neighborhood needs QUALITY buildings, at whatever amenities level it caters too. If people can't pay for it, don't build it. And don't expect developers to give up profits either short or long term. That is charity and they aren't in the business of charity. Build what is valued..what people will pay for.

Rover
09-28-2011, 04:28 PM
Sub Standard? Why is it sub-standard just because it's not upscale? Forgive me also if i don't shed a tear for the real estate investor. They've done such a bang up job lately after all. And besides that, they DO still make a profit, otherwise the things wouldn't exist and we'd go from building a new upscale project to demolition rather than filter down. The return may not be as fast, but that's entirely my point, sir. That "commitment" is being willing to wait a little longer. By default, you create a connection to the community simply because you have more staying power. Tis like a star, the brighter she burns, the faster she dies.

Developers aren't looking for "connections". They are looking for profits. That is how enterprise works. Any developer who tells you differently is either lying or will be out of business before long. And, what many on here mean when they say "affordable" means "cheap". Cheaply built shoddy construction is not what a core of the city needs. Every project doesn't have to have all the amenities but it should be a structurally and infrastructurally sound, quality building that will be good 75 years from now. Urban is not only how close it is to the curb, but how long it will be around in a preferred state.

bombermwc
09-30-2011, 07:25 AM
I would whole heartedly agree with Betts. Upscale or not, the building still needs to be good.

I would also disagree with Rover....almost 100%. Just beacuse it's affordable does NOT mean it has to built crappily. If you want to also see an example of a structure in town that is old and has been remodeled at the expense of the investor, look to Bricktown. JDM place is a PERFECT example of what can be done when you have an investor COMMITTED to the city and making something work. When Dr. McKean started that project, Bricktown was less than an unkown. It wasn't proven, it wasn't anything. In fact, there wasn't even a canal when he started the project. He took a risk, totally gutted the place, and made the building into THE building in Bricktown. Simply pursuing profit is NOT something he is interested in....believe me, I've known him personally my entire life and not just as some passing acquaintence. He is an incredibly savy businessman and has given back to this community over and over in his life. In fact he also uses his profits to help fun a boy's ranch in Missouri for troubled teens...out of his own pocket. He has several other businesses in town that you don't know about either.

He is the kind of investor I would like to see. They aren't interested in flipping, they are in it for the long haul, they are committed to making it work, they do not only invest in upscale, etc. Remember that just because Mickey Mantle's is in that building, doesn't mean that something less fancy couldn't lease out the space as well....hello bars on the top floor. I could expand on that, but i know people don't like to read my long novels. But suffice to say, if he were to invest in something like Carnegie or FNC, it would work, it would be good, and it wouldn't have to be upscale. So out of personal experience with him, i'd say your argument on what a development or an investor has to be....is innaccurate to say the least.

Rover
09-30-2011, 03:32 PM
Bomber, if you read what I actually said it was that many on here mean "cheap" when they say affordable. Quality can be affordable, but it most likely isn't "cheap". There is a difference. There can be quite a difference in construction...things like sound insulation, mechanical equipment quality and efficiency, type and size of studs, flooring material quality (cheap carpet or quality), hardware quality (solid or plated), ceiling heights, light fixtures, etc., window quality, etc., etc., etc. When does good basic quality construction get cut and fall to sub-standard?

Secondly, "upscale" is a very subjective term. Fixtures that might be of quality and built to last is "upscale" in some people's judgement. Something like cabinetry...where is the dividing line between sub-standard and quality, affordable or "upscale"? Is it price, construction quality, materials, style? I agree that all apartments, condos, etc. don't need sub-zero appliances, geo-thermal heat pumps, granite counter tops, private elevators, etc., but everything downtown needs to be built to last. Cheap construction is destructive whether it is built in a suburban setting surrounded by parking lots or sits 5 feet from the street in downtown.

Just the facts
09-30-2011, 07:58 PM
Just to shed some light on the upscale and cheap debate - remember this. This building was only 9 years old.

http://downtownseattle.komonews.com/content/troubled-9-year-old-belltown-apartment-building-be-demolished

http://propimages.apartments.com/102085/394/BL010132.JPG


You probably know it more for its scaffolding than anything else.

Now, the scaffolding will be torn down, along with the building itself.

After years of trying to fix the McGuire Apartments in Belltown, the owners say they are vacating the building and will demolish it, due to "extensive construction defects."

"It was overwhelming. It was shocking. It was tremendously disappointing," said Quint Eby, who owns a salon on the ground floor of the building, at 2nd Avenue and Wall Street. "I think I expected more."

Residents were told on Friday to attend meetings on Saturday, where building officials explained the structural problems. Post-tensioned cables are corroding, in addition to other things, which could present such a problem in the future that city could declare the building structurally unsafe to occupy, according to a statement from the building's owner.

"While there are no imminent tenant safety issues, the experts involved in the investigation and repair of the building have indicated that there will be structural issues that could present safety issues by 2011 and beyond," said Brian Urback of Kennedy Associates, the real estate advisor for Carpenter's Tower, in a statement.

"I felt pretty betrayed, actually, because I just moved in and I would’ve liked some warning," said Matthew Eckstein, who moved in three weeks ago. "There’s a little bit of a safety concern, because the building’s not in tip-top condition. It’s not structurally sound."

Residents say they were told to be out before the end of the year, but are being given financial incentives to move out before June 30th.

Spartan
09-30-2011, 09:13 PM
Wow.

bombermwc
10-03-2011, 07:33 AM
Developers aren't looking for "connections". They are looking for profits. That is how enterprise works. Any developer who tells you differently is either lying or will be out of business before long. And, what many on here mean when they say "affordable" means "cheap". Cheaply built shoddy construction is not what a core of the city needs. Every project doesn't have to have all the amenities but it should be a structurally and infrastructurally sound, quality building that will be good 75 years from now. Urban is not only how close it is to the curb, but how long it will be around in a preferred state.

Well if I misunderstood this statement, then i stand corrected, but it sure did sound like you were equating affordable to cheap. I whole heartedly agree we don't want shoddy, which is apparently what the Seattle building was. But we even have buildings currently in downtown that could convert to honest affordable housing today, given the appropriate support. I guess we're not ever going to see eye to eye on this one. I'll tell you right now, if there had been a good tower-based option other than Regency when i got my first apartment as a professional, i would have been downtown in an instant. And since that just-out-of-college demographic is also one with a good disposable income (not married yet, no kids yet), it's a good market to tap. But if you don't get them quickly, then they are gone. They're a fickle group and move quickly.

Rover
10-03-2011, 10:28 AM
Bomber, I don't think we actually disagree on the point. SOME people don't understand that things don't have to be "cheap" to be affordable. But it is hard to build a quality product and be "cheap". I hope that the Carnegie builds out in a quality way and with a specific market demographic in mind. If so, it will sell out. In product development it is fatal to make something in hopes of finding the market. You have to define the market and market opportunity where you think there is a productive business and design for that. It is not about the cost so much as the value of the product and the available market.

bombermwc
10-04-2011, 06:34 AM
Except I would say that the market has become defined on its own here. Rather than supply pushing demand, it seems to have flipped. We aren't able to sell off the space we have (or propose to have), so where's the market (for that level)? I just feel like we've pushed the limit of what that scale will support and need to expand into new territory...into a market that has yet to even be aknowledged by developers.

Rover
10-04-2011, 09:16 AM
There are many reasons why the market rejects things, and price is only one factor. Part of value is knowing the things that are really important in the buying process. The layout of the space, the style, the quality, the security, the location, the neighbors, etc., etc., etc. Being overbuilt with the wrong product doesn't mean demand doesn't exist. It just means that more skill in responding to the market needs to happen. For instance, I recently visited the Hill and looked at a sample unit of about 2,000 feet at about $210 per foot. Of that layout, I quickly spotted approximately 400 feet of wasted space that is the result of pretty mediocre space planning. The wasted area was actually larger than the entire kitchen area. 20% wasted space is huge and is something you would not see in smart urban living spaces. That makes the cost for usable space very high. The unit was designed to employ suburban home demands and style but just plopped into the center of the city.

I am not picking on the Hill, but it is an example of not recognizing what your market actually is. It is a product in search of a market, instead of a product filling a market. It is a very, very common reason why most new products fail...ample research and testing is not done before the project is actually commenced. Financing, engineering, architecture is focused on, but unfortunately, in my dealing with a great number of architectural and engineering firms, much less time, energy and money is spent on finding out exactly what the market REALLY prefers.

bombermwc
10-05-2011, 07:52 AM
AMEN on the Hill. That's been my gripe with all of the devlopments in that area. Suburban apartments plopped in downtown...ugh.

betts
10-05-2011, 08:32 AM
AMEN on the Hill. That's been my gripe with all of the devlopments in that area. Suburban apartments plopped in downtown...ugh.

While I essentially agree with you, the Hill probably offers a more customary home than some of the other "for sale" properties downtown. You've got the garage, living room, kitchen all on the first floor and bedrooms on the second in the model I looked at. So, when you walk in there's no feeling of , "this is different than what I'm accustomed to". Perhaps that enables people who are a bit nervous about moving downtown to feel comfortable. Since the Hill seems to be selling better, maybe that's a niche.

I've had people tell me they think it's weird to have the kitchen on the second floor of the house, which never crossed my mind when looking at the Brownstones or Block 42. It hasn't been a problem since living there either. Someone recently moved from Block 42 to the Brownstones because they thought the Brownstones felt more like a home. It's nice to have options. Eventually, all of the for sale properties will fill up. Eventually someone new will feel brave enough to build another for sale property or one of the rental buildings will start selling condos. But it may be because there's a bit of variety in what the for sale options are.

G.Walker
11-28-2011, 11:22 AM
looks like this is finally moving forward...$400,000 TIF funds approved for this project, per City Council agenda for tomorrow!

Urban Pioneer
11-28-2011, 11:36 AM
More streetcar riders ;)

What do the funds cover?

mcca7596
11-28-2011, 11:46 AM
looks like this is finally moving forward...$400,000 TIF funds approved for this project, per City Council agenda for tomorrow!

Yes! Thanks for the info.

G.Walker
11-28-2011, 11:52 AM
More streetcar riders ;)

What do the funds cover?

assistance in development financing...

G.Walker
11-28-2011, 11:54 AM
This is good news, after coming off the heels of the failed Bomasada Group Automobile Alley project...

Urban Pioneer
11-28-2011, 11:57 AM
No doubt. I just read the memo and the resolution. It looks as though they can use the monies for any development costs. The site has brand new water and sewage utilities because of P180. That means that those funds will probably have a greater impact on the building site itself. A very good thing indeed.

ljbab728
11-30-2011, 12:12 AM
http://newsok.com/conversion-of-oklahoma-citys-old-downtown-library-to-housing-is-back-on-track/article/3627711

Rover
11-30-2011, 08:03 AM
So this means they have to keep the ugly monolithic look of the current building?

BDK
11-30-2011, 08:17 AM
Seems like they'll have to keep the look, which I think is fantastic. Shame about the rooftop deck, though.

mcca7596
11-30-2011, 08:38 AM
I just hope the legislature doesn't try to eliminate historic tax credits altogether next year and some form of this project takes place.

Urban Pioneer
11-30-2011, 10:32 AM
Yeah, the roof deck would have been cool. I missed as to how many units she is proposing. Since it is now rental oriented instead of condos, are there more units?

What is the proposed count?

CurtisJ
11-30-2011, 02:06 PM
So this means they have to keep the ugly monolithic look of the current building?

I'm not overly familiar with the building, so correct me if I'm wrong here.

From the pictures I have seen it doesn't seem like there are many windows on the building, and maybe I'm in the minority here, but I think natural light is very important in a living space.

I agree its a shame that they can't include a rooftop deck, it seems to me that a deck could be done in a way that does not diminish the historic qualities of the building. Rules are rules I guess...

Between those two issue, this building seems like the ideal residence for vampires.

Either way, I hope this project goes forward. I'm always intrigued by projects that repurpose existing buildings, escpecially when it is done well.

Spartan
11-30-2011, 04:19 PM
I imagine around 15-20, but the articles don't say. Probably more than the previous condo proposal, though.

wschnitt
12-04-2011, 09:04 AM
I was scoping it out yesterday. There is not a single window on the entire second floor.

Steve
12-04-2011, 10:59 AM
The second floor will be where cars park.

wschnitt
12-04-2011, 12:48 PM
Ok, that is a good idea. Then no surface parking needed!

Steve, you think this will actually happen?