August 7th, 2017
Jim Weiker, The Columbus Dispatch
Developers can’t build apartments fast enough Downtown, but condominiums are a different story.
Until this summer, only one major condominium project — Neighborhood Launch — had opened Downtown in the past nine years.
That’s changing in a dramatic way with the opening of two high-end condo projects: The LeVeque Tower Residences, in the renovated iconic building of the same name, and Parks Edge, a pair of Arena District condo towers.
The two projects add 151 condominiums Downtown, with prices starting at $450,000 and climbing to $4.4 million for a custom condominium that occupies the entire top floor — almost 14,000 square feet — of the first Parks Edge building. That condo takes up space originally intended for six homes.
While similar in price, finishes and amenities, the LeVeque and Parks Edge condos are dramatically different in style. Parks Edge units are sleek, modern, wall-of-glass contemporaries, while the LeVeque condos reflect the traditions of the building. Each LeVeque home has a different layout, plus hints of the building’s past such as brass mail chutes (now decorative) and double-hung windows that open.
One of the eight LeVeque condos has been sold, even though work on the project was just finished, said Jim Meyer of the Cutler Real Estate firm Meyer and Dial, which is listing the homes.
He sees the LeVeque’s heritage as a huge draw. “It’s the most iconic building in central Ohio,” he said. “When you say, ‘I live at the LeVeque,’ people know what you’re talking about.”
He also thinks the condos benefit from being on floors 34 through 37 of a building that includes a boutique hotel, apartments, a restaurant, a bar and a gym.
Condo owners will have access to hotel amenities such as room service from the restaurant, dry cleaning, a day spa and valet services for guests. Eventually, managers hope to add housekeeping.
Meyer says the individual layouts, some of which have 180-degree views, will draw those looking for something different.
“These are not a bunch of boxes next to one another,” he said.
At Parks Edge, 54 of the 61 units in the first tower are sold and 12 occupants have moved in, according to the developer, Nationwide Realty Investors. The second tower, which will include 82 homes, is expected to be ready for occupancy in June.
Although the interior finishes at Parks Edge are top-end, that’s not what buyers first notice, said Nationwide Realty President Brian Ellis.
“The one pre-eminent thing is the picture-postcard views of the skyline and the riverfront and riverfront park; that’s a primary driver,” he said.
“Next is being in an urban neighborhood that’s pedestrian-friendly with great access to amenities.”
The Parks Edge homes are essays in modern luxury: floor-to-ceiling windows, large pantries and walk-in closets, 10-foot-high ceilings, spalike baths and balconies, including some that wrap around corners. Although most Parks Edge homes are single-story, the two buildings include 13 townhomes total.
“The one pre-eminent thing is the picture-postcard views of the skyline and the riverfront and riverfront park; that’s the primary driver.”
-Brian Ellis, Nationwide Realty President
Guests have access to a large rooftop pool, a fitness center, a guest suite in the building and a community room that includes sliding glass walls that open onto a terrace.
“For the first time in the Arena District, we’ve added a pool, a resort-style pool on the garage roof, that’s been a new amenity, and I think it’s been a big driver,” Ellis said.
Meyer and Ellis are pleased by the response to their respective developments. But considering that 38 condos sold above $500,000 in all of Downtown in the past 18 months, how much of a market is there for 150 new high-end condos?
“That’s a good question,” said Lee Ritchie, a RE/MAX agent who deals extensively in Downtown properties and represented the buyer of the $4.4 million Parks Edge condominium.
Most of the demand for such homes comes from empty nesters, she said.
“They’re moving out of the suburbs and their big homes into town. They want to have fun, walk to things, enjoy a more vibrant lifestyle, and they want to downsize,” she said.
Downtown’s most-sought-after condos share three features, Ritchie said: proximity to restaurants and entertainment; a property-tax abatement; and views. The LeVeque and Parks Edge projects have all three.
“There’s more people in this market than you would anticipate,” Meyer said.
But for both Parks Edge and the LeVeque, representatives know they are catering to an exclusive audience.
“This isn’t a building for penny pinchers,” noted Meyer as he showed visitors through the LeVeque. “It’s for people who want a lifestyle they can’t get elsewhere.” [email protected] @JimWeiker