This story was originally published in Multifamily Executive.
City Club Apartments has broken ground on two of its City Club–branded residences this year: City Club Apartments Central Business District (CBD) Detroit, in January, and City Club Apartments CBD Minneapolis, in March.
The properties are the second and third new-construction starts for City Club, which was formed when Jonathan Holtzman, former CEO of Village Green Holdings and CEO and co-founder of City Club Apartments, sold his share in Village Green’s operating companies and entered a joint-venture partnership with Canadian investor Alan Greenberg in June 2016.
“When I sold Village Green, we went from 1,200 employees to two employees,” says Holtzman. “And so Alan Greenberg and I started a new company called City Club Apartments from scratch. But, it wasn’t from scratch. I had 40 years of experience, and Alan has about 35 years of experience. We had a vision for a private apartment community company that was going to be an international brand, which has never been done before. … We didn’t have a development company, a construction company, a communications company, a design company. We do today.”
CBD Detroit and Minneapolis
City Club Apartments CBD Detroit is the first new conventionally financed mixed-use high-rise apartment community to break ground in Detroit’s central business district in 30 years. The development site was once home to the historic Statler Hotel, which was built in 1915 and torn down in 2005.
“Unfortunately, everything that was associated with this great historic building was not only destroyed, it was thrown away, says Holtzman, a Detroit native. “Historic being part of a development or being most of the development is something that we feel is very green, and, architecturally, it’s very interesting for the customer and is something they really like. Unfortunately, in the case of downtown Detroit, there’s nothing left.”
The newly built community will contain approximately 288 apartments and penthouses when complete, plus 13,000 square feet of retail space. A pet store, restaurant, and gourmet market will be among its tenants. Pre-leasing is scheduled to begin this month, with move-ins expected to start in November and completion targeted for the second quarter of 2019.
City Club Apartments CBD Minneapolis will contain 307 apartments and penthouse suites in a newly constructed, 17-story high-rise. The project will also preserve and incorporate the adjacent 1907 Handicraft Guild Building, and City Club Apartments plans to convert the Guild Assembly Hall into a two-story restaurant/bar and entertainment space.
“We're celebrating the building’s great history while creating some of our own with a dynamic new space featuring 100-year-old wood trusses; soaring, 30-foot ceilings; and a European-inspired green corridor and expansive entertainment patio connecting our restaurant and community to the city,” Holtzman said at the ground-breaking.
The Sky Club at CBD Minneapolis, located on the 17th floor, features a club room modeled after a contemporary Minnesota cabin. Club amenities include a gourmet kitchen, club-style seating, big-screen TVs, and a fireplace. Its Sky Park offers an outdoor pool, spa, and movie theater.
The majority of the community’s apartments are anticipated to be affordable for those earning $45,000 to $65,000 per year in the area. Pre-leasing is scheduled to begin this fall, with move-ins expected to start in early 2019 and completion planned for summer 2019.
The City Club Brand
As City Club Apartments branded residences, CBD Detroit and CBD Minneapolis will offer many of the same features and options that are available at all of City Club’s branded properties, including CBD Cincinnati, which held its grand opening in April and is currently in lease-up.
Each City Club community is built with cutting-edge, green-certified construction practices and incorporates high-speed fiber technology. Matching branded amenities include a 24/7 concierge, social programming, a Bark Park, a business and conference center, and wellness and exercise rooms. Both properties will offer studio, convertible, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments, as well as penthouse units and furnished short-term units.
The communities’ cabinetry, island kitchens, plumbing features, and “sexy bathroom” features, including the bathtub and showerhead, are all City Club Apartments designed and branded features. “If you think of high-level design hotels, they have a brand in terms of their design, their finishes, their amenities, their services. It’s a branded product. And we haven’t seen that in the apartment industry,” Holtzman says.
“We have three people in CCA Design that are ex-hotel people, and then we have CCA Communications, which is our in-house advertising company. … We're controlling the brand like a high-design hotel brand. And we’re learning as we talk to our customer—we don’t call them a renter, we call them a customer—about the amenity services and features they like.”
City Club offers four discrete finish packages for its apartments. The “Studio N” package features stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and wood-style flooring. Upgrades include white appliances in the Deluxe package, plush carpet in the Deluxe and Premium packages, or berber carpet in the Penthouse package.
Potential City Club renters can choose from 30 to 40 floor plans and specify the features they would like in their apartments, including finishes, patios, LED lighting, floating shelves, pantries, or towel warmers. Holtzman compares the process to that of building and pricing a car online.
“We believe the customer is the one who drives the decisions,” Holtzman says. “They want choices. They want choices of finishes, they want choices of style of apartment, they want choices of patios or balconies or townhouses or duplexes or flats. Why not let the renter—or, in this case, the customer—make these choices? And from there, it’s supply and demand. You would have higher rents on those particular apartments or penthouses if the customer says, 'These are the best in the marketplace.’ ”
In the two years since City Club was formed, the company has grown from a two-person venture with 10,000 units retained across 30 communities to a collection of real estate companies with 250 employees and over $500 million in new residential development across nine planned properties. The next City Club projects will be located in Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky.; Pittsburgh; and Chicago, with plans to expand across the East Coast over time.
City Club Apartments plans to start three new communities each year. The company is currently in the process of transferring management responsibility for its entire portfolio from Village Green to City Club Hospitality, its brand-new management company.
“We think the apartment industry has a particular connotation that’s different than the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry really values a hotel guest who’s staying one night. In the apartment industry, the customer stays a little bit more than two years,” Holtzman says. “And so our company, City Club Hospitality, is following the hospitality business model for customer service.”
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