Every strike brings me closer to the next home run. –Babe Ruth
Nov 25, 2014, 1:47pm MST Yahaira Jacquez, Contributing Writer
The 198-unit rental high-rise on the northeast corner of First Avenue and Monroe Street is almost fully occupied, according to the building’s community manager, Kevin Bohm.
“We’re currently sitting at 98 percent occupied,” said Bohm. We’re 99 percent pre-leased so the building is about as full as it can be.”
Winthrop Realty Trust, based in Boston,purchased the building in November 2013from Boston-based ST Residential for $40 million. According to Bohm, the investment trust made it a priority to increase the occupancy of the building.
The biggest change in the luxury tower came about in 2010, when ST Residential decided to re-position the property from condominiums for sale to apartment units for lease.
“We successfully leased up the building in less than 12 months, and we’ve kept the occupancy rate high since then,” Bohm said. “It was a smart move, it brought affordability to the downtown area.”
As condominiums, the units were sold at about $400 per square foot, not including association fees. At that time, 44 Monroe was only 5 percent occupied, Bohm said. Now, a standard-sized, two-bedroom apartment in the tower can be rented for $1,800 to $3,000 a month. Pricing depends on the floor level.
R.J. Price, vice president of Downtown Phoenix Partnership Inc., a nonprofit that aims to strengthen the energy of downtown Phoenix, said living downtown is becoming more attractive to people since many think it facilitates their lifestyles.
“The walkability, the easy access to nightlife and cultural attractions are all benefits to living downtown,” said Price. “And the potential for a car-free lifestyle and a low-maintenance, turnkey way of life attracts people.”
Jessica Jensen, a resident of 44 Monroe for the past four years, moved to downtown Phoenix to be closer to work. The convenience is what attracted her.
“Working downtown, I don’t have to use my car other than to grocery shop or to see family,” Jensen said. “Not driving eliminates stress, it’s nice to not start my day off with traffic.”
Before moving to downtown Phoenix, Jensen was fearful because she had only seen one side of downtown, which was during the day when she worked.
“After living here for four years, I realized how much there actually is to do here within walking distance,” she said. “You don’t know, until you live down here, how much there is to do.”
The urban lifestyle in Phoenix is especially appealing to people who come here from other major U.S. cities, Bohm said.
“What we have found is that people coming from San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and other big-market cities, who are used to this urban lifestyle don’t want to let it go,”he said. “They’re living downtown because it’s what they’re used to.”
According to Price, Downtown Phoenix Inc. is working to attract more people to live downtown in its efforts to transform the area into a place where people can also live and play, not just work.
“The more residents we can attract and accommodate, the more attractive we become to commercial and residential developers,” Price said. “Having more people here is integral to our arrival as a premier downtown.”
Price said the demand for urban housing in Phoenix is increasing and 44 Monroe, as well as new residential developments, are working to meet this demand.
“We are experiencing never-before-seen interest in urban living,” Price said. “The downtown area is 95 percent occupied and we currently have 1,900 units in some stage of development.”
Although 44 Monroe is helping to meet the demand for luxury urban housing, Price said there is still need for more.
“We still can’t meet the demand, particularly in the mid-range, affordable price range that is accessible to students and young professionals,” said Price.
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