Residents of AKA Beverly Hills can enjoy the outdoor residents-only lounge, a spacious landscaped terrace with spectacular views of the Hollywood Hills.
Photo ©2014 Eric Staudenmaier.
In these times of social distancing and working from home, any amount of travel feels like an enormous reprieve from the new normal. Those needing or looking for high-end lodging away from home, for work or otherwise, might feel anxious striking out into a new city or living in a safe, clean environment. One brand is offering luxury, semi-permanent rental spaces in cities around the country that feel safe and more than comfortable.
The AKA brand originally formed in 2005 with the idea of recognizing an “unmet need in major cities for luxury extended-stay apartments with hotel services,” according to Elana Friedman, chief marketing officer of AKA. Founder Larry Korman and his family conceptualized furnished apartments that would satisfy residents’ need for flexible living arrangements without sacrificing luxury. Since then, according to Friedman, these innovative ideas have grown to incorporate the best in cuisine, design, wellness and technology in metropolitan locations all over, including London, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
AKA specializes in weekly and monthly stays, therefore creating a “home away from home experience for our residents, no matter where they are traveling from,” Friedman says. She adds that to meet the demand of those who are looking for a self-sufficient living experience, AKA offers luxurious furnished apartments with modern kitchens, spacious floor plans and services as requested, all furnished in a contemporary style by renowned designers.
Each AKA location offers a diverse range of services designed to provide residents with comfort, choice and luxury for any length of stay. All locations provide on-site services such as a 24-hour front desk, dedicated doorman, meticulous housekeeping, valet and laundering, in-suite dining, secure transportation, and more. Private amenity spaces are included as well, from thoughtfully designed fitness centers and lounges, to cafes and cinemas.
With the developing public health crisis, priorities over privacy and cleanliness have grown, as well as a need for safe workspaces. AKA has not only recognized these concerns, but has adapted to remain open and flexible to residents.
“We concepted flexible office suites that will allow a person to book a suite to work, rent as a socially distanced office, or have the bed removed to create a workspace for two employees,” Friedman says. These suites also feature a full kitchen, private bathroom, copier/printer/scanner, complimentary WiFi, and can be booked on a weekly or monthly basis.
Flexible office space at AKA Central Park in New York.
Photo courtesy AKA Hotel Residences.
AKA Beverly Hills offers a contemporary residential oasis boasting suites with custom furnishings, private balconies and more.
Photo ©2018 Eric Staudenmaier
Private workspace at AKA University City.
Photo © Halkin Mason Photography
When it comes to traveling in today’s world, finding a balance between privacy and engaging activities can be difficult and have the potential to change the hospitality industry at its core. However, brands like AKA that are already seeing changes in what was “normal” prior to the pandemic, are finding ways to stay ahead. “People are now and will continue to be more hyper-focused on the cleanliness and safety of their surroundings, and these facets are taking the lead when planning a trip or experience,” Friedman notes. “Given that, we anticipate travelers will look for more extended-stay or serviced residence options coming out of the downturn as a way to have greater control over their accommodations.”
With AKA’s Live It! Program, AKA residents are encouraged to uncover new experiences like a local, while keeping safe in socially distanced settings. “From custom fitness sessions, improv classes, trapeze lessons, cooking classes and more, AKA connects travelers with the fabric of a city,” Friedman says. She adds that another new opportunity exclusive to AKA is an East Coast road trip package that offers travelers a chance to experience New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., all in one trip. With two to three hours of driving between each destination, the getaway gives residents the opportunity to embark on a journey of sightseeing, outdoor activities, photo opportunities, local eateries, history and iconic stops along the way to the next city, all in a custom, outdoor, social-distanced activity itinerary.
For more information on the AKA East Coast Road Trip, visit the link here.
For more information on AKA’s Flexible Office Spaces, visit their website here.
Inventories, demand, new construction, urban renewal, untapped potential and changing business opportunities. All of this and much more vary greatly from region to region, market to market, and submarket to submarket. We took it all into account as we determined which 18 places most warrant keeping an eye on in 2018.
By Camilla McLaughlin
Atlanta, Georgia — Midtown is on fire, the result of extensive redevelopment, and local experts believe downtown will become equally vital. Buckhead is still a locus for the high end, but new upscale buildings bring luxury to revitalized city neighborhoods. Look for more upscale communities in the suburbs as well.
Austin, Texas — Along with Atlanta, Austin is setting the pace for a new age for cities in the south. Technology, pharmaceutical and biotech industries coupled with a unique lifestyle bring newcomers. Not to be discounted is Texas’ status as a no-income-tax state. Californians will continue to look favorably on this city.
Boston, Massachusetts — New
ultra-luxury buildings have buffed Boston’s luxury patina. And the redevelopment of neighborhoods is creating more upscale addresses. Prices in the greater Boston area reached a new high in October with a $568,000 median. A steady influx of foreign investors and slightly more balanced inventory are expected to drive the market into 2018.
Charleston, South Carolina — This city’s ascendancy to the luxury elite is undeniable. Christie’s ranks Charleston fifth, ahead of Paris and Sydney, on its Luxury Thermometer, based on demand and growth. Antebellum classics in historic sections still captivate, but enclaves outside the city or on the water also capture attention. Food, authenticity and waterfront — is there a more compelling combo?
Charlotte, North Carolina — Forecast to be a top housing market in 2018, Charlotte offers urban perks with renewed neighborhoods, new towers and major sports teams without the big-city hassle. Investors, developers, retirees and millennials are all taking notice. An international airport and a temperate climate place this city in the major league.
Darien, Connecticut — Experts anticipate interest in suburban towns with easy access to major metros to grow this year, and Darien is a good example. Homes that are priced right and close to the water sell quickly. Recent ultra sales in nearby Greenwich bring more high-end focus to Connecticut suburbs.
Las Vegas, Nevada — Not too
long ago, some predicted that it would take decades, if ever, for Las Vegas to bounce back from the recession. Today, it tops Realtor.com’s list of the best housing markets for 2018. While a few segments still play catch up, luxury in Las Vegas is back full force with new ultra-lux properties in a range of prices. Architecturally, many are innovative showstoppers.
Maui, Hawaii — More visitors return to Maui than any other Hawaiian island. The number of private jets on the tarmac at Kahului Airport, condominiums asking $25 million and a recent $40 million home sale attest to Maui’s luxury charisma. Montage Residences Kapalua Bay with $54 million in sales in 2017 set the bar for resort residences.
“We have seen value increase, but what we have seen of significance is the number of luxury home sales in our marketplace has really grown year over year, each of the past three years,” says broker Peggy Hoag.
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota — More than Super Bowl LII adds to hubbub in downtown Minneapolis. The boom includes a new 120-block downtown neighborhood anchored by a new stadium, home to the Vikings, and a five-block Wells Fargo mixed-use complex. Offering a higher quality of life at an affordable price, Minneapolis tops Urban Land’s outlook for the Midwest.
Nashville, Tennessee — Once considered a second-tier city, this music hub is now a real estate superstar. Nashville was one of eight metros showing inventory gains in October. Buyers responded, making days on market in November among the
lowest in the country. Nashville appears on several markets to watch this year, making it more than a good bet for 2018.
New York City’s Northern New Jersey suburbs — Developers are eyeing submarkets adjacent to major metros, and towns in Northern New Jersey are in their sights. Already, the region is home to some of the priciest ZIP codes in the country. Manhattan is less than 30 minutes away, and estates here greatly appeal to celebrities thanks to lifestyle and privacy.
Newport Beach, California — Slim inventories make tear downs prized properties here. Developers look for properties to tear down and build new product that appeals to high-end clients who can come in and customize. RE/MAX broker Jeff Grice said more agents are
working with these builders, and his brokerage recently listed a property in the process of being rebuilt for $8.8 million that sold within 11 days. “I foresee this getting bigger and bigger in 2018,” he says.
Orlando, Florida — Florida attracts more international buyers than any other U.S. state and more than Mickey Mouse makes this city a top destination for global buyers in Florida. New luxury enclaves are being developed including more properties in Lake Nona by noted architects.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Inventory is the story here, but one of more rather than less inventory as new luxury rentals and residences come online in Center City. For single-family residences, demand still exceeds supply. Slow and steady
describes a continued influx of newcomers to the city, the second greatest among U.S. secondary markets.
Portland, Oregon — A slim inventory has pushed prices up by almost 10 percent, but low housing prices compared to Vancouver and San Francisco bring newcomers, as does a growing tech presence. Luxury here is on a steady growth path. “We have seen value increase, but what we have seen of significance is the number of luxury home sales in our marketplace has really grown year over year, each of the past three years,” says local broker Peggy Hoag.
San Diego, California — Luxury is not new here, but the cachet of this Pacific star continues to expand. There is no better testimony than the inclusion of San Diego on Christie’s list of
the top 10 fastest growing luxury markets. Luxury has expanded downtown with artful new towers and large-scale developments include North Embarcadero Esplanade.
San Jose, California — The heart of Silicon Valley led the country in price growth with a year-over-year price increase of 19.2 percent in October with 76.3 percent of homes selling above list price. But don’t expect any cooling here until inventory pressures are relieved with more homes in the market.
Seattle, Washington — It’s no surprise Seattle leads ULI’s list of markets to watch. At year end, the typical home was snapped up in just 10 days, making it the fastest market in the country. Upscale properties are in demand thanks to international interest and home-grown tech wealth.
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com
To say that the location of The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia, is its greatest asset, is not to diminish the magnificence of the homes themselves, or the friendly services, elegant amenities and unparalleled lifestyle. It is to simply say that life at these residences provides owners with unbeatable views, enviable access and a unique experience impossible anywhere else.
“It’s an important blend of exceptional service, central location and high-quality construction, fit and finish,” says Craig Spencer, founder and CEO of the developer, Arden Group. “Within four blocks you can experience all the arts, the finest restaurants, shopping, history and the best medical facilities in the country. Our building was designed by Handel Architects, who are the designers of the World Trade Center Memorial.”
Unique Homes was fortunate to live for two nights in a gorgeous, two-bedroom, three- and one-half-bath, 2,115-square-foot model on the 44th floor, designed by Barbara Nipon Spencer of BJS Design. It is available furnished for $2.45 million. Most of the residences (including our unit) offer cinematic views of iconic City Hall, and Dilworth Park, the city’s newest centerpiece, just unveiled after a $55 million renovation.
Our home was the perfect base to experience phenomenal food and service from the neighboring Ritz-Carlton hotel, along with the city’s holiday offerings during a December weekend. We enjoyed new and old seasonal traditions, all within easy walking distance. We marveled at a 61-year-old Christmas light show that has entertained generations of Philadelphians in a historic department store Grand Court, punctuated by the Wanamaker Organ, the largest playing pipe organ in the world. Then, a few blocks away, the Comcast Holiday Spectacular delighted young and old, a digital wonder on one of the world’s largest, highest-resolution LED displays. We were charmed by the German-style Christmas Village in LOVE Park, and awed by the Philly Pops along the Avenue of the Arts.
“Philadelphia is a kinder, friendlier and more manageable New York, with all of its rich history, world-class parks, world-renowned museums and far too many great restaurants to ever conquer — all within walking distance,” says Gary Greenip, vice president of sales and marketing. “Travelers can be at their airport gates in 25 minutes from The Residences. Once you live here, you will never move. You’ll be spoiled, pampered and think of your staff as family!”
Only 32 of the building’s 270 residences remain. Developer residences still available start with a one-bedroom, one- and one-half-bath unit with spectacular views of City Hall and Dilworth Park for $770,000. The most grand is a 9,515-square-foot penthouse on the 47th floor. It comes with breathtaking views from over 1,500 square feet of outdoor balcony space, and is completely customizable for $14 million. Other listings with two or three bedrooms range from $800,000 to $3.4 million.
Photo courtesy of The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton
Philadelphia’s most expensive ultra-luxury tower, 500 Walnut, shattered every real estate record in the city, most notably with the sale of its $17.85M Penthouse.
Scannapieco Development Corporation, Philadelphia’s ultra-luxury developer, unveiled its most anticipated tower to date — 500 Walnut. As its first residents begin to occupy the building, the vision for 500 Walnut has become a reality. The sleek, glass 26-story ultra-luxury tower overlooking the iconic Independence National Historic Park opens with unprecedented response, and record-breaking sales.
500 Walnut represents the culmination of Scannapieco’s extensive work in developing residential properties with features that hadn’t otherwise been seen in the market. It immediately follows the unparalleled success of his first center city tower, 1706 Rittenhouse Square, where Scannapieco identified an unaddressed ultra-luxury market and beat all odds with record-breaking sales. With 500 Walnut, Scannapieco breaks new boundaries and further surpasses the pinnacle of ultra-luxury, setting a new bar for luxury living in Philadelphia — from its amenities, including a 4,000 square-foot landscaped terrace, to advanced technologies, including the world’s first wireless induction charging system in a robotic garage.
“We are proud to officially unveil 500 Walnut. This property is a reflection of architectural excellence and integrity, meticulous design, innovative global technology, and a rare combination of the utmost conveniences for the most discerning of buyers,” said Tom Scannapieco, the president and CEO of Scannapieco Development Corporation. “This, combined with such a special and significant location — perched on the threshold of history — is what makes 500 Walnut truly unlike anything Philadelphia has seen before.”
Designed by the renowned, award-winning architect, Cecil Baker and Partners, 500 Walnut consists of only 35 private residences. Full-floor residences of over 4,300 square-feet offer expansive balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, fireplaces, private elevator access, high ceilings and some of the most spectacular views ever offered in a center city high rise.
500 Walnut’s intimacy of scale allows residents the utmost privacy to enjoy the most robust, luxury amenities a condo tower in Philadelphia has ever offered, including:
- 4,000-square-foot landscaped outdoor terrace overlooking Independence Park complete with multiple seating areas, gazebo, and fireplace
- Fitness center with state of the art equipment, yoga terrace, massage room, steam and sauna rooms
- Five-star guest suite
- Sky-lit 50-foot lap pool with hot tub
- Entertainment suite for hosting events complete with catering kitchen and lounge area
- Private boardroom for business meetings
- Library/billiard room
- Exquisite lobby with water wall
- Lush lobby level garden with water feature
- Tesla town car with driver
- 24-hour full service concierge to handle your every need
Photos courtesy of Scannapieco Development Corporation
Photo courtesy Maxwell Mackenzie.
In 2017, Unique Homes is traveling the U.S. to find the dominant stories in each region of the country — This issue covers the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
By Camilla McLaughlin
To say 2017 is a year of change is an understatement, and real estate is no exception. Prices are up … and down. Condition matters, and design and architecture have almost become a national obsession. In our yearlong series, we are taking a look at all the regions of the country in an attempt to answer the question of the year,
For real estate in major East Coast cities, 2017 culminates a decade of change. In many locations, it is a turning point of sorts with new value equations being forged and entirely new standards for luxury properties emerging. Lifestyle matters more than ever. Whether it’s a desire for arts and culture or an escape from ever-increasing gridlock, a penchant for urban living has become a prime driver for real estate in many markets. What changes also stays the same, as neighborhoods that were hot hundreds of years ago are back in vogue.
Photo courtesy ©getty images.
“We used to say cash is king. I think right now value is king. Everyone from luxury down to the $1 million range wants to feel some value,” says Diane Ramirez, chairman and CEO of Halstead Property, about real estate in the Big Apple.
Few real estate markets received as much scrutiny in 2016 as New York. Reports from the first quarter of 2017 point toward a revival, with prices and transactions for resale apartments increasing by 5 percent year-over-year. Closing prices for new development averaged $4.3 million, 15-percent higher than the first quarter 2016. “Post election, we’re seeing a great deal of interest. In Manhattan, the luxury market is bubbling, very interesting and active. We’re seeing activity, but the higher you go up the more challenging it is. Yet, we recently closed on a $41-million-plus sale,” says Ramirez.
Years of white-hot demand tempered in 2016, and sellers have had to fine tune expectations and adjust to the new market reality. Ramirez explains: “Buyers, whether it’s $30 million or $16 million or $1.5 million, want to see or feel they got some value.” It doesn’t necessarily have to be price. It could be some type of a concession or initiative.
What’s hot here continues to be new. “People love new construction. They just love the newness. It’s no longer just about space,” Ramirez says, listing the benefits new construction delivers — views even from the kitchen, open plans with excellent flow, collaborative spaces and technology. And big windows that make these urban dwellings almost seem like a suburban home.
Fewer permit applications suggest development is slowing. New buildings currently in the pipeline are not on ultra prime streets. While still very upscale, they will come to market at lower price points. “I am happy to see some of the newest development coming in prices that are still in the $6 million range or higher but not starting at $8 million,” says Ramirez.
Highest-priced listing: $110 million penthouse in the Woolworth Tower Residences
“Boston is becoming a little shinier. The public gardens and esplanade, all the things we love about it, are still here, but you can definitely see change,” says Paul Grover, a partner at Robert Paul Properties. More than the skyline is being altered as recent construction, such as the 60-story Millennium Towers, introduces a new paradigm for premium properties. Unlike the townhouses prized by Boston’s legendary Brahmin, the lifestyle is ultra luxurious with services, architecture and amenities comparable to prime buildings in New York and San Francisco. For example, the Millennium has a private restaurant and bar, under the helm of Michael Mina, solely for residents.
Change is not new to Boston. For almost two decades, the city has been in a constant state of flux as one neighborhood after another is rediscovered. Some of the most compelling real estate stories today are coming out of old towns that ring city center. Newton, Brookline, Chestnut Hill and Weston remain luxury stalwarts, but close-in communities like Watertown, Chelsea and Everett are seeing record prices. Cambridge is white hot. In Somerville, once a haven for first-time buyers, million-dollar prices are not uncommon.
Right now, Boston has one of the hottest real estate markets in the country with the number of single-family homes for sale down 35.2 percent year-over-year in February; condos were down 27.6 percent. Statewide, February marked the 60th time in the last 61 months with a year-over-year inventory decrease.
What’s hot: Close-in locations with access to transportation.
Highest-priced listing: Woodland Manor, a $90 million estate on 14 acres, less than 6 miles from the center of the city in Chestnut Hill.
Top: ©getty images; Bottom: 2 Avery Street, courtesy Robert Paul Properties.
Photo courtesy ©getty images.
“The thing with D.C., it’s always been a solid market with so many people moving in and out,” says Katherine Herndon Martin with McEnearney Associates. Long before the recession, Washington’s real estate star was on the rise, and in recent years it has charted among top markets nationally. In March, homes were selling within two weeks, with the number of units sold up 15 percent vs. a year ago.
The recent focus on ultra properties on Kalorama Road has pushed upscale Washington into the limelight. Until recently, prices above $12 million were rare, but billionaire interest, beginning with Jeff Bezos’ purchase of a $23 million property on S Street, puts new upscale dynamics in play. Similar to Beverly Hills, new estates, rather than new towers, create rising benchmarks for luxury here.
The most expensive property on the market in the District of Columbia is a $22 million estate on Chain Bridge Road on the second-highest point in the
city. (The National Cathedral is the highest.) At first glance, the regency-styled home seems to be one of the city’s historic estates, but it is newly built and constructed with a level of materials and attention to detail comparable to that found in the most expensive areas of the country.
The other facet of the D.C. real estate story is continued redevelopment and gentrification of neighborhoods and parts of the city, a process that began decades ago. Some of the newest hot areas include Brookland near Catholic University as well as neighborhoods around Logan Circle. In many of the suburbs, bigger continues to have great appeal with buyers often adding on to what is already substantial square footage in properties in Potomac, Maryland and McLean, Virginia.
Highest Price in the Region: $24 million for new construction in McLean, Virginia.
Highest Price in the District: $22 million for a newly constructed estate in the Foxhall Neighborhood.
Eds and meds is how Mark Wade with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox and Roach Realtors sums up part of the draw to Center City Philadelphia. But, based on the large number of downsizers exchanging suburb for city, arts and culture are easily in the mix. The big news here is new super premium buildings that fetch unheard of prices, especially for condominium residences. “Basically, what we have is that Philadelphia is a town of Toyotas and Mercedes. That’s our high-rise market. What’s coming down the pike are Bentleys. There is a huge disparity between the two. The gap is unbelievable,” Wade says referring to the recent sale of an 8,900-square-foot, two-story penthouse at 500 Walnut for $17.85 million, a record in a city where the previous high priced sale was a $12.5 million penthouse, set in 2010.
Newcomers, particularly those drawn by the universities and medical systems, also opt for a home in the city. “Twenty-five years ago, the trend was the exact opposite. Somebody would move here, say from Atlanta, and they would bypass the city and magically end up in the suburbs. Today, when we get a transferee like that, it’s the exact opposite,” observes Wade. Additionally, the city attracts a large contingent of commuters to Manhattan, who happily trade an hour in the car for a productive hour on the train.
Highest-priced listing: $16.795 million for a
Society Hill condo.
On the radar: New ultra-luxury buildings, such as the Residences at the Ritz Carlton, are setting records over $10 million.
Market Insight: “When our market rises, it does so at a sustainable pace,” says Wade. “When our market falls, it does so gradually — we don’t have the crazy ups and downs of say a Miami, or New York, or D.C. We seem to chug along either up or down. Nothing wrong with that!”
Photo courtesy ©Mefmanoo/Wikimedia Commons.
The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia. Photo courtesy Ritz-Carlton.
Photo courtesy ©getty images.
Charm City is more than just a catchy moniker. “Baltimore is a hotbed,” and when you are here you discover that it literally is Charm City, observes Charlie Hatter, owner of Prime Building Advantage and Monument Sotheby’s International Realty in Baltimore. “Luxury real estate is doing very, very well,” he says, citing a recent $6 million sale. “Anything above $2 million is considered ultra luxury for this market.” High-end suburbs including Roland Park and Towson and properties in the horse country see strong demand.
The ambiance of the city and prices bring a number of new residents who have children in New York or Washington, D.C., which are both an easy train ride away. Revitalized areas in the city and inner harbor area are in demand. Like many places, sales were slow or even stagnant in summer and fall. On the other hand, Charlie Hatter describes the spring market as “huge” with lots of activity around the inner harbor, as well as areas that have been revitalized. “People love the charm and the uniqueness of the older properties,” he says.
Highest-priced listing: $12.5 million for a Four Seasons penthouse with skyline and water views.