By Gene Urban, The Urban Team
For the past week I’ve been mulling over what to write about Chateau on Central. I attended the grand opening party a bit over a week ago, took a follow-up tour last week, spent some time talking to the brokerage staff and let it gestate. To be honest, I am on a bit of a roller coaster ride with the project… exhilarated, disappointed, hopeful and unsure.
The challenge with Chateau on Central is it doesn’t fit into a neat real estate box.
- Chateau on Central is not a condo project like One Lexington or 44 Monroe… ownership includes the land the 4 story brownstones sit upon.
- The zoning of the project is commercial verses pure residential. (We’ll take more about that in a moment.)
- The brownstones are larger (5000+ sqft) than most luxury single-family homes, yet the space is split on 4 levels accessible by elevator or stairs.
- There are only 21 homes in the project.
- I don’t think the developer really understands downtown and downtown may not understand this kind of development. There is room for all of us to grow here.
With all that said, I’d like to offer my opinion of Chateau on Central:
THE EXCITEMENT: Chateau on Central is a distinctive and unique development… has been since construction began a few years ago and likely always will be. The brick and copper brownstone design sets it apart from all other developments and the initial cost to build is way beyond what the downtown Phoenix region can or will support for some time.
Chateau on Central has just 21 homes to offer home buyers, thus the supply & demand model may be favorable in spite of the seemingly high sales prices. There really is nothing else like these brownstones in Arizona… even Scottsdale can’t lay claim to a similar community. Bottom line, Chateau on Central has the advantage of being singularly distinct, especially in the downtown Phoenix region.
MORE EXHILIRATION: I mentioned the commercial zoning of Chateau on Central. To me, the zoning with the multi-level architecture may well be what makes Chateau succeed. You have the option of creating a high-level live/work space at Chateau on Central. Imagine you have a boutique law practice… let’s say sports agent.
- You don’t need a lot of office space.
- You want to be close to an airport and the downtown Phoenix sports venues.
- You want to show you are a trend-setter, not a follower.
Chateau on Central may just be the place for you. You could have the ground floor of your luxury brownstone be your office. Plus, the basement floor would be outfitted as a great entertainment zone. You still have two floors (approximately 2400 sq.ft.) to call home. Parking is pretty good on Palm Lane and you could have a gated entrance from the street for clients or bring them into the complex and garage their car in your private two-car garage. Do you see the possibilities to the is high-end live/work option?
THE DISSAPOINTMENT: I was personally disenchanted with the model homes. A lot of hoopla was made over the merits of Rowland Luxury Homes (the firm doing the final build out) and Est Est (the design firm). To be fair, I am not privy to any budget constraints that may have affected the model home designs. However, I found the models to be just okay and in some aspects sub-par.
- There were two models opened during the launch party. One was decorated in an European theme and the other contemporary. This contrast was well thought as it allows two fully separate buyer types a view of the possibilities. However, neither model leaped out at me saying… I am amazing OR I was designed by a top firm. I talked with some other attendees (6 or so couples) and got the same sort of feedback. One woman from England described the models as uninteresting. Below are a few of my thoughts:
- The stairways were left undecorated and gave an ordinary feel to the homes. I would have expected Est Est to have papered the walls with something exquisite or added some other types of engaging decor.
- The closet build outs are surprisingly basic and the building materials do not match my expectation of homes in the $300.00/sq.ft. range. One of the master bedroom closets was built out in white Melamine with chrome hardware. Pretty tacky and certainly not a design match.
- The elevators are essential elements in these multi-story brownstone homes. However, neither model had a well decorated one. A cleaver treatment of the exterior elevator doors and fanciful interiors would have demonstrated design ingenuity and adroitness.
- I know some may say I am being picky regarding stairways and elevators. In my opinion these two features are the gateways to the various levels of the home. Failure to make them interesting sets a tone of indifference for the rest of the home and once you lose your audience it is hard to get them back.
- All in all I thought the interior design of the two models were safe at best and did little to reflect the diversity of the downtown Phoenix region and its people. It might have worked in other areas of the valley where benign is smart.
THE HOPE: I want Chateau on Central to be a rousing success. It is an adventurous and matchless real estate venture. The questions many ask are: Does it make sense? Is it a good value? Is it a wise investment?
Let’s look at the last question first. Most investment advisors will tell you that a personal residence is not an asset, it is a debt. The idea of a personal residence being a wise or unwise financial investment is misguided. Just look at the mess people created this past decade by believing their home values could rise 10-15% a year without fail. The answer to the good investment question is less financial and more social. We are talking about the cost to buy a lifestyle and a home. How much is it worth to you. The sports agent discussed at the beginning of the article may find Chateau on Central’s price tag quite reasonable; A couple moving from New York, Chicago, Montreal or London would say the price tag is amazingly affordable. If you are comparing it to One Lexington it is seemingly expensive.
The questions, Does buying a home at Chateau on Central make sense and Is it a good value, are hard to answer. I am not a futurist and time will tell the answer. I believe Chateau on Central doesn’t have to make sense to sell and be viable. There are only 21 homes in Chateau on Central. Thus, only 21 people have to say… I like this place, I want to live here and I can afford it.
Twenty-one is a very small number; It is a great gambling number. The only question is, are there 21 people out there who are tired of being careful, hate being mundane and ready to say screw it… I want to be part of the story called Chateau on Central.
The Urban Team