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A Case of the Condos

Four high-end projects offer luxury living in the urban core

By Chris Charlson · October 6th, 2010 · CityLiving
For anyone trying to sell their house these days, “slow” might even sound optimistic when describing the real estate market. But what about those high-end condos that loom over the river or sit perched on a hillside. They can’t be selling ... or can they?

Oddly enough, luxury condos seem to be the exception when it comes to the down real estate market, with many new developments already at 60 percent occupancy or better. Recent developments such as The Ascent in Covington, South Shore in Newport, the Palisades in Mount Adams and the McAlpin downtown are selling a lifestyle that prospective residents seem to be buying.

In the case of The Ascent in Covington, located at the foot of the Roebling Bridge, the multi-million project is already debt free and boasts 75 percent occupancy, says Corporex Residential Sales Associate Leann Starks. Completed in 2008, the building houses 70 units ranging from $500,000 up to the 7,700-square-foot Pinnacle penthouse that sells for $5.4 million. With its iridescent blue windows and curving angular ivory structure, the building appears to be perpetually caught in a gentle breeze.

World renowned architect Daniel Libeskind and Corporex Chairman William Butler collaborated on a vision so inspiring that a large percentage of the owners purchased residences by only viewing conceptual drawings, Starks says. “They bought into this building on a wing and a prayer knowing the builder’s reputation, knowing his forward thinking, understanding his vision,” she says.

Besides nesting in a bona fide work of art, Starks says residents enjoy such amenities as 24/7 security and concierge services, guest suites, a swanky clubhouse, movie room, wine room, pool, health club and an on-call stretch Lexus for transportation. Every detail was addressed, she says, from commissioned art work to the pool that mirrors the shape of the building to the etchings on the wine room glasses that are actually Libeskind’s doodles to the metal strips on the floor that match the lighting pattern. The list goes on and on.

Home Owner Association (HOA) President Bob Gibson says he was the third to purchase at The Ascent and one of the first to move in because he so believed in the project. His home could easily grace the pages of Architectural Digest with its refined elegance and angular design cleverly softened by lush wooden built-ins.

In fact, Gibson’s home emanates such traditional warmth someone could easily forget they’re towering over the city until they glance out the expansive windows to the river view below. He says the building not only provides luxurious living but also hosts a thriving social network with people who care about the community.

“One of the fun things about the building is I’ve tried to get as many people involved as I could, and we must have about close to 15 committees,” Gibson says.

“We’ve got a group of very eclectic and dynamic people here, and we’re diverse in a nice way.”

Located at 400 Riverboat Row, the SouthShore offers uncompromised luxury with unsurpassed views from all river-facing condos, says sales leader Christine Schoonover. With 64 units ranging in price from $457,000 up to the $3.3 million penthouse with 4,858 square feet of indoor living and 3,000 square feet of outdoor living, the building is currently at 60 percent capacity. Developer Capital Investment Group feels so optimistic about the project they plan to build an adjacent second tower and full marina with a total project cost of $140 million, Schoonover says.

Like The Ascent, SouthShore pampers residents with 24/7 concierge and security, a sculpting room (a designer name for a gym) and a breathtaking fifth floor clubhouse and infinity pool complete with hot tub that overlooks the city. Designers maximize the scenery in contemporary chic with floor-to-ceiling windows in almost every room.

Schoonover refers to the developer’s marketing campaign of a woman lounging poolside as an example of the resort-style living resident’s experience. She says many people choose condo living because it frees up their time to live life and enjoy. She says couples often view properties and leave holding hands.

“For many people, it’s the first time in their adult life they’ve had the only key to their house without children,” Schoonover says. “All of a sudden they’re realizing, 'This is sort of like dating.' It’s romantic for them to suddenly be free of everything so they can do what they want.”

For urban dwellers wishing to eschew extravagant amenities without sacrificing the view or ultra-contemporary design, developer Vail Terra Properties and John Senhauser Architects created the Palisades at 309 Oregon St. in Mount Adams. Opened this past spring, the exclusive 10-unit project offers unique floor plans ranging in price from $999,000 to $2.3 million and size from 3,228 square feet to 4,276 square feet.

Besides offering some of the most expansive views and extraordinary outdoor living space of any project in the city, Robinson Realtors owner Lee Robinson says the Palisades touts even more high-end finishes than other properties, including beautiful granite countertops and enviable stainless steel appliances. As a seasoned professional, he explains the draw to condo living revolves around people freeing up their time to live a trouble-free lifestyle without a yard work or house responsibilities.

Robinson says the attraction to the Palisades will be a combination of its location and unique design.

“The reason you buy a condo like this is because you can’t do this in a house,” he says. “You can’t have 4,000 square feet on one floor in Mount Adams overlooking the city and the river. It can’t be done.”

Condo dwellers seeking a more urban experience might want to travel further inland downtown to The McAlpin, located at 15 W. Fourth St. Opened in 2007, the building features 59 units ranging in size from 1,500 to 3,100 square feet at a price range of $324,000 to $679,000.

With the building sold to 80 percent capacity, only the 12 upper units remain, says sales representative Michael Sweeney. He credits an innovative design by fledgling developer 4J Redevelopment for the building’s “urban sophistication” and success so far.

One such innovation is an expansive atrium strategically placed through the center of the building to illuminate what was once destined to be a dark interior. Now bathed in light, the atrium glistens with its glass bridge walkways and stunning contemporary design.

Inside the units, light pours through abundant windows to showcase contemporary angles and sleek design features. As in the other properties, upgraded amenities and finishes abound. Sweeney says dwellers don’t necessarily have to completely sacrifice outdoor living, as the property features a charming multi-level outdoor terrace/patio complete with full kitchen, grill, firepit, bar and garden landscaping.

According to Sweeney, an eclectic mix of tenants live in the building, ranging in all ages. One anomaly he does mention is the reverse commuter — people who work in the suburbs but live downtown because they want to experience vibrant city living.

“We’re seeing more and more of the reverse commuter and not only at The McAlpin but all over downtown,” he says. “The building just has great energy and a lovely mix of people. There’s just a very good vibe in this building.”



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