Downtown Cleveland's residential population has reached 12,500 people, and apartment occupancy rates consistently hover in the 95-98 percent range. As a real estate broker once told me, "That's not really a vacancy rate, that's more like a turnover rate." Most buildings have waiting lists, and new properties continue to come online each year. Still, downtown doesn't have many high-rise apartment or condo buildings like you'd find in New York or Chicago, where you can perch above it all and look down at the vibrant, busy city swarming below.
Spacious kitchen in a suite at the Residences at 1717
Yet that's changing with the addition of The 9, which Fresh Water profiled last month
, and the Residences at 1717
, which we recently had a chance to tour. These units are under construction, with floors 2 through 5 now occupied and a new floor being unveiled every couple of weeks. Although the first residents have barely moved into the building, it's already 65 percent leased. The entire project, which features 223 units on 21 floors, is expected to be complete by March 2015.
There are two commercial spaces on the first floor of the property, which, by the way, is the former East Ohio Gas building at East 9th and Superior. One of these spaces will be occupied by Al's Deli, which is relocating from the Galleria. The other space is not yet officially leased, but K&D, the developer behind the project, is purportedly in talks with various potential tenants.
The Residences at 1717 features a handsome marble lobby built for the previous owner. The sales office is located in the Gas Light Theatre, a neat space with terrazzo floors where East Ohio Gas used to teach workers how to light pilots. The building was gutted from floor to ceiling, with the exception of key historic elements. The exterior wasn't altered, since the developers obtained historic tax credits. Large windows on all sides, the positioning of the building on a corner, and the small floor plate have made for an excellent residential conversion.
Exterior of The Residences at 1717
The real show is reserved for the spaces themselves. The elegant floor plans and high-quality amenities illustrate how far downtown living has evolved. The 1- and 2-bedroom suites feature granite countertops, ceramic tile floors, hardwood cabinets, walk-in closets, washer-dryer sets, stainless steel appliances, LED lighting and energy-efficient windows. One bedrooms start under $1,000, two bedrooms at about $1,700. The units are priced at about $1.25 per square foot, which is consistent with other downtown apartments but less than what the owners hope to get at The 9.
The Residences at 1717 boast a surprising amount of square footage and expansive windows with premium views. Our tour guide was not able to take us above the fifth floor, yet we caught glimpses of northern views to the lake, western views towards the heart of Public Square, southern views towards Euclid Avenue and eastern views towards Cleveland State University. The two-bedrooms are positioned on the corners of the building with windows on both sides. The one-bedrooms also get plenty of natural light and offer views.
Spacious kitchen in a two bedroom suite at the Residences at 1717
The building's tinted windows offer privacy and shading while affording residents great views. Storm windows installed from the inside have created a quiet, cozy building. The entire place is certified LEED silver, which residents will appreciate because it makes the building not only greener, but more comfortable and affordable. K&D is offering a guaranteed rate increase of two percent per year for the first three years as long as you renew your lease within the expiration date.
There's little space wasted in this thoughtfully designed building. Leasing agents say the units could be leased by the end of the year, and you get the sense it's not just hype. There's a shortage of move-in ready apartments downtown -- with many of the suites coming online, residents have to wait until they're finished.
The Residences at 1717 is a $65 million project. It won federal and state tax credits for historic preservation and also is using federal New Markets Tax Credits. These credits are layered on top of construction financing from Huntington Bank, equity from the developer and funding from the city and county. K&D recently purchased the Leader building and is looking to its next project.