Sunday, January 6, 2008

Condo Demand Speaks To Downtown Desire

Harrison condos defy national trend
Link (JG)

"Brita, a Realtor with Martin Goldstine Knapke of Fort Wayne, is the leasing agent for The Harrison, the residential condominium component of the $120 million Harrison Square downtown revitalization project. He says reservations for the 62 condos have been moving briskly, despite price tags that start at $150,000 and a national condo market that has been in the doldrums for months.

“I have taken reservations from 25-year-old single people, 25-year-old married couples, to 75-year-old snowbirds who have a 4,000- or 5,000-square-foot home in Fort Wayne and a place in Florida and who say when they come in the summer they have too much to take care of for the time they’re here,” he says. “They want to lock the door and say, ‘I’ll see ya in the spring.’ ”

One customer bought two units – one on top of the other. “He says he is going to go through the ceiling and create a townhouse,” Brita says of a vision that will require about a $400,000 outlay before the remodeling.

The units, which have one, two and three bedrooms, have not been a hard sell, despite maxing out at 1,531 square feet – not including the balcony – and being priced nearly 50 percent higher than the median price of Fort Wayne homes in 2005, Brita says."
"Brita says customers can buy the condos either completely finished or as a “white box,” which means they can have their own builder and/or interior designer help them make and install finish selections. “The majority (of buyers) are saying, ‘Finish it,’ ” says Brita, adding that a mini-unit is set up at Martin Goldstine Knapke, 2020 E. Washington Blvd., to demonstrate possible styles and materials. A DVD that provides a “fly-through” of the project is also available."
"But Brita, who plans to begin recontacting those who have reserved condos to draw up sales papers this week, says those problems have not surfaced here.

He says condos locally are in undersupply and, even in other downtown buildings and developments, are selling well.

The Harrison Square project looks like a bargain to people from cities like Atlanta or Milwaukee, where similar units can cost from $400,000 to $1 million, he says.

Brita believes downtown living is beginning to catch on with young professionals. One of his prospective buyers is a lawyer who wanted to live within walking distance of his job at the federal courthouse, and Brita expects there are more similarly minded downtown employees – maybe even enough to develop a second building on the Ewing Street side of the park.

“The personal aspect of this to me, and to Martin Goldstine Knapke and to everyone who was born and raised in this town, is that it is bringing back Fort Wayne. When you walked downtown when I was a kid, it was shoulder to shoulder. It was fun,” he says.

“It excites me that this is a start to bring downtown back to what it used to be.”"