As sustained demand for single-family housing bumps up against limited housing stock in key markets around the world, developers are looking to draw in luxury buyers with unique condominium projects whose abundant outdoor green spaces rival a traditional backyard setup.
Whether it’s a communal pocket park amid a multilevel condo development, a residents-only vegetable garden complete with toolshed, or a private roof deck attached to a multimillion-dollar penthouse, green amenities can lend new meaning to “condo living.”
That’s especially true in urban markets, industry professionals say, where discriminating buyers want greenery and outdoor relaxation space without having to go far from their living rooms. The trend is apparent in a spate of condo projects that have entered urban markets across the globe recently, in locations such as Miami; Melbourne, Australia; and New York.
“In Australia, the dream in the past was to buy a house with a backyard,” says Joe Russo, principal of the Melbourne-based Caydon Property Group. “In today’s market, that dream is shifting. People are wanting to live closer to work, they want convenience, they want to be surrounded by amenities and transport.”
Apartment living offers that, Mr. Russo says, and is often more affordable than a single-family home, but “why should you have to compromise on the backyard, the pool, the big theater room or entertainment space that a house could offer?”
Mr. Russo’s Hall Street at Mason Square development, located six kilometers (3.7 miles) from Melbourne’s central business district, doesn’t compromise.
Plans call for a half-acre of lushly landscaped outdoor recreation space, including a vegetable garden, toolshed, multi-use sports court, treelined reflection pool, barbecue area, and 25-meter swimming pool. The first phase is due for completion later this year.
Caydon Property Group
Another project, a 26-story tower known as STK—for its location in Melbourne’s St. Kilda neighborhood—offers 6,673 square feet of communal space on a podium deck dotted with palm trees, steps from a gym and yoga room. It also features a grass lawn with an infinity pool and barbecue decks.
Units in all Mr. Russo’s recent projects range from A$350,000 to A$1.9 million, an affordable price point that allows first-time condo owners to enter the market, he says.
It isn’t just in Australia where the condo grass is greener. In Miami, an adaptive reuse project is transforming a former medical facility, the Miami Heart Institute, into the Ritz-Carlton Residences, a 7.5-acre, green-flecked oasis.
The property will feature a residents-only meditation garden, and some of the 111 condo units will have decks that step out onto private grass yards, says Allison Greenfield, a partner with development firm Lionheart Capital. Developers are also creating a separate community green space that will be accessible to residents and the public.
In addition to providing ample shade, Ms. Greenfield says developers went to great lengths to cater to prospective buyers looking for the character of a house wrapped in the convenience of a condo.
“Our location allowed us to go much further in the direction of really trying to make our condominiums feel like individual homes,” Ms. Greenfield says. That location is midbeach and “surrounded by single-family homes—everything around us is low-rise, low-density, and we just happened to get this amazing piece of property that towered over everything around it, because of its previous use.”
Units at the Ritz-Carlton Residences average 3,500 square feet; prices range from US$2 million to US$8 million, with an ultra spacious penthouse available for US$40 million. Units were about 70% sold through mid-March, she says, with first occupancy expected this year.
A second phase, not yet built, calls for 15 stand-alone villas, some with private boat dockage and waterfront views.
Taking the temperature of prospective buyers was also a priority for developers of L’Atelier Residences, an 18-story tower with 25 residences in Miami’s North Beach, sales director Anna Sherrill says.
Most units cover a half-floor, each with a large terrace, while the US$21 million penthouse spans the entire top two floors of the building. The penthouse boasts some 8,500 square feet of exterior space, including a roof deck with a 40-foot infinity pool and several terrace and lounge areas that can be outfitted with plants and potted trees.
The building’s unusually low density lends it a distinctly residential aura, as opposed to some of South Florida’s vast high-rises, Ms. Sherrill says. And with relatively few units, residents needn’t worry about competing with their neighbors for use of the spa or concierge. As she put it, L’Atelier has “more of a home feel, but with all of the amenities and comforts of a condo, so you can lock up and go.”
An appetite for spacious residences with easy access to exclusive outdoor acreage can also be found in New York City, says Jason Halpern, principal of JMH Development.
The firm designed 70 Henry, a boutique property in upscale Brooklyn Heights, not far from the waterfront.
The red-brick property in the historic brownstone neighborhood has just five units, each with a full-floor layout, direct elevator access, and a private storage room. The design is meant to relieve owners of the stairs and maintenance burdens of a single-family home, while retaining the space and privacy of one, Mr. Halpern says.
“We built residences that are quintessential family homes,” he says, noting that the target demographic of 70 Henry is buyers who will use the property as their primary residence.
The penthouse has four bedrooms, 3 ½ baths and a private roof deck that spans 2,152 square feet—nearly as big as the residence itself. Units range from US$4.45 million to US$5.25 million, and completion is slated for this summer, Mr. Halpern says.
This article first appeared in Mansion Global magazine’s June issue.
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