MERIT: Low-Rise

European Flair: Village Grande

The sounds of clinking martini glasses and partygoers quickly fade as you walk though the decorative archway of this beachside community into a European-style village, complete with classical Old World estate features such as tumbled marbled courtyards.

MERIT: Low-Rise - Village Grande
MERIT: Low-Rise - Village Grande
Village Grande, developed by Delray Beach, Fla.-based Coastal Design & Development Group, was designed to attract empty nesters and young professionals who want the excitement of urban living in downtown Delray Beach without sacrificing luxury or elegance. The 3,000-plus-square-foot units–which sold for $799,000 to $925,000–feature three or four bedrooms, two-car garages, private elevators, 11-foot ceilings, marble and limestone flooring, and gourmet-style kitchens with stainless steel appliances. French doors, Juliet balconies, arched window openings, and garden patios not only add European flair, but also create natural light and let the warm tropical breezes circulate through the homes.

To take further advantage of the Florida sunshine, each unit features a private rooftop terrace with decorative trellis structures, a summer kitchen, and a splash pool since the project's small footprint didn't allow for a community pool. The pool doubles as a fountain. How's that for charm?

–Rachel Z. Azoff

MERIT: Low-Rise

Sweet Spot: Railroad Spur Block

Nestled between a sugar manufacturing facility and railroad tracks heavy with tanker cars, the .11-acre parcel at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Doyle Street in Emeryville, Calif., sat vacant for decades until local developer Doyle Street Lofts saw its potential.

MERIT: Low-Rise - Railroad Spur Block
MERIT: Low-Rise - Railroad Spur Block
Today, the site houses Railroad Spur Block, a multifamily project with five loft units, each three levels tall, situated around a center courtyard. With a total cost of less than $500,000, the complex was designed and constructed within a strict budget.

Designed by locally based Philip Banta & Associates Architecture, the complex is organized into a pair of metal-clad blocks flanked by bright stucco boxes and thick courtyard walls, linking residential use with the large industrial boxes built years ago. The deep walls and metal cladding protect the project from railroad noise.

The townhomes, which average 1,275 square feet, were designed for artists and other people who work in creative fields. They offer open floor plans with the ground floor intended as work space and the second and loft levels for living quarters. Today all of the units, which lease for $1,000 to just over $2,000, are occupied by artisans and other entrepreneurs.

–Jennifer Popovec

MERIT: High-Rise

Old Meets New: Cristalla

MERIT: High-Rise - Cristalla
Steve Keating Photography MERIT: High-Rise - Cristalla
How's this for juxtaposition? A modern, glass high-rise tower meets an ornate terra cotta historic building below. Architecture firm Weber + Thompson skillfully blended these two distinct façades to create Cristalla, a 193-unit luxury condominium community in Seattle. The property is the first residential high-rise to be built in the city in more than 13 years.

Cristalla incorporates the original facades of the 1915 Crystal Pool Natatorium–a saltwater bathhouse designed by renowned theater architect Marcus Priteca and a cherished community landmark. Atop the historic façade, a layered palette of Italian limestone and copper aluminum panels combine with cascading blue glass to evoke flowing water, reflecting the site's original use. A replication of the Natatorium's original dome (demolished in the '60s) sits above the building's entrance with a steel pergola to unify the two historic façades.

MERIT: High-Rise
Cristalla Courtney Rosenstein MERIT: High-Rise
But the preservation of the terra cotta proved to be the biggest challenge for the project. The team took extraordinary measures to brace the façade during demolition to prevent movement of the fragile and fractured terra cotta. Next, a concrete wall was constructed to support the façade from behind, securing the terra cotta and allowing it to stand on its own. Once a sufficient number of floors were built, the façade was then attached to the new building. These meticulous efforts paid off: More than 100 units sold in only two weeks.

–Rachel Z. Azoff

MERIT: High-Rise

Old World Charm: Acqualina Ocean Residences and Resort

This Sunny Isles, Fla., high-rise stands worlds apart from its more contemporary neighboring beachfront properties. The towering 51-story Acqualina is decked in European-style Old World charm with its iron gates, Baroque fountains, bas relief applications, and a grand porte-cochere with a domed cupola replete with imported mosaic tiles. The property, on the site of the former Pan American Hotel, includes 215 luxury condos and the 35-unit five-star Rosewood Hotel.

MERIT: High-Rise - Acqualina Ocean Residences and Resort
MERIT: High-Rise - Acqualina Ocean Residences and Resort
The building is unique not just for its architecture, but also for its interior layout. Robert M. Swedroe Architects & Planners had to develop the hotel component in the center of the building vertically (with four rooms per floor) rather than horizontally, because the hurricane-strength mammoth sheer walls prevented the horizontal distribution of the rooms. The end result permitted east or west views for all guests and through-views for all hotel suites.

The affluent condo buyers (condos are priced at $1 million and up) share the five-star hotel's amenities. Acqualina, developed by the Williams Island, Fla.-based Trump Group, features a 20,000-square-foot spa, four outdoor pools, direct beach access, and 24-hour concierge service. Plus, the units tout private-entry elevators and ocean views from each living room, dining room, kitchen, breakfast room, and master bedroom.

–Rachel Z. Azoff

MERIT: Mid-Rise

L.A. Architectural: MetLofts

The original plan for MetLofts looked nothing like the finished rental building that graces downtown L.A. The design, which called for a traditional product with a four-story wood frame building and a two-story parking garage below, was nixed for its lack of density. After much thought, developer Forest City Residential decided to make the units longer and narrower, raise the ceiling height up to 11 feet, and connect the parking structure to every floor of the building. The team took a step back and realized the quest for density had led to the creation of a loft-style structure.

MERIT: Mid-Rise - MetLofts
John Linden MERIT: Mid-Rise - MetLofts
Lofts proved to be just the right offering to attract the project's targeted demographics: Gen Xers and established singles and couples working downtown. The 264-unit project, designed by Los Angeles-based Johnson Fain, was inspired by 20th-century Dutch Modernism; its concrete, steel, and glass structure meets the street at all three frontages to create a strong urban fabric. Inside, units feature 10- to 14-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, vibrant accent colors, open kitchens, and exposed structural and mechanical systems.

 

MERIT: Mid-Rise - MetLofts
John Linden MERIT: Mid-Rise - MetLofts

MetLofts' modern, edgy personality is topped off with a unique interactive public art display. Visitors walk and dance on more than 200 LED light tiles embedded into the entry walkway; the movements are mimicked by lights mounted on the façade of the building. Even drivers on the 100 Freeway can enjoy the show.

–Rachel Z. Azoff

For more on the display, see "Fancy Footwork" in the August 2006 "Direct Reports."

MERIT: Mid-Rise

Industrial Evolution: 720 Lofts

Not long ago, Fourth Street North in Minneapolis's emerging North Loop area wasn't a safe place after dark. But that's changed thanks to 720 Lofts, a fresh, hip, 99-unit condominium that's helping transform the previously deserted district into a thriving urban neighborhood. The units, targeted at the first-time homebuyer, are moderately priced at $225,000 to $275,000.

MERIT: Mid-Rise - 720 Lofts
Bob Perzel MERIT: Mid-Rise - 720 Lofts
720 Lofts not only looks to the future, but also artfully pays homage to the history of its warehouse district surroundings. The project was built from scratch on a vacant parking lot, but the interior easily resembles an adaptive reuse of an industrial warehouse. Living areas tout exposed ductwork, large columns, and expansive plate-glass windows. The architect, Minneapolis-based UrbanWorks Architecture, selected black concrete kitchen countertops and sealed concrete floors to mirror the materials used in loading docks, a common feature of warehouses. To capture the loading dock's form, the decks of the first-floor units open onto flat concrete dock-like platforms.

While 720 blends well with its surroundings, it does bring a new architectural feature to the area. The project, developed by SchaferRichardson, offers plenty of green space–unlike its neighboring lots of blacktop and concrete. A green roof sits atop the parking garage (doubling as a storm water management system), and green space surrounds the building.

–Rachel Z. Azoff

MERIT: Affordable

Long Wait: San Antonio Place

It has taken 50 years for a new single-room occupancy project to land in Mountain View, Calif. Much of the credit goes to Charities Housing, which, along with city council members and housing advocates, overcame a long-harbored distrust of the product type to bring the colorful, spunky, 120-unit San Antonio Place to fruition.

MERIT: Affordable - San Antonio Place
Vantage Point Photography MERIT: Affordable - San Antonio Place
The Mountain View City Council identified the need for efficiency studio housing back in 1998 and a year later selected San Jose, Calif.-based Charities Housing to develop the $22 million project on a city-owned site. At 325 square feet, the units aren't large, but they are a welcome sight to residents who often move from overcrowded or shared living conditions. Monthly rents range from $250 to $700 (affordable to persons earning 20 percent to 45 percent of the area median income). One-third of the units are set aside for special needs households, such as HIV/AIDS patients, survivors of domestic abuse, and the disabled.

The building–designed by Kodama Diseno Architects–provides shelter and a supportive environment with six social service partners, full-time case management services, and weekly educational workshops. The developer also hires and trains residents to work as the property's desk clerks, allowing them to earn extra income.

–Rachel Z. Azoff

MERIT: Affordable

Early Leader: Amory Residences

For several years, Boston's suburbs have boomed with revitalization efforts. But one industrial site on the border of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, Mass., is only now getting a much-needed second look. At the center of it all: Amory Residences, a 64-unit affordable rental housing community built on the site of a former towing lot and car wash. The property, designed by Somerville, Mass.-based Mostue & Associates Architects, marks the first of the redevelopment efforts and sets the stage for the rebirth of a nearby vacant warehouse and large empty parcel of land.

MERIT: Affordable - Amory Residences
MERIT: Affordable - Amory Residences
Because of Amory's unique position as the first facelift, the community and city closely monitored the building's construction to ensure the project set a strong example for future development both in terms of aesthetic appeal and functionality. The intense process included 12-plus meetings with community groups and nearly 20 sessions with the city. Groups pushed for a pedestrian-friendly building with meaningful public spaces, functioning traffic flow, and strong street presence.

The end product, developed by Housing Investments and Urban Edge, did just that: The units, available to residents who earn up to 60 percent of the area's median income, are scattered among three architecturally distinct buildings that recall the varying characters of the neighborhood. Close to one-third of the homes resemble townhomes with private entrances and stoops. Short, colorful hallways on the building's upper floors give a personal touch to the more traditionally designed units.

–Rachel Z. Azoff

MERIT: Adaptive Reuse

Wild Ride: Pacific Electric Lofts

The restoration of this early-20th-century Los Angeles landmark into a 314-unit rental loft project reads much like a suspenseful detective novel. The building, which served as the hub of the famous "Red Car" rail system until the 1950s, received its fair share of remodeling over the years. ICO Development's daunting task: Study the building's three periods of significant handiwork, and uncover which historic elements were still lurking behinds the renovated walls and floors.

MERIT: Adaptive Reuse - Pacific Electric Lofts
KFA/Michael Wells MERIT: Adaptive Reuse - Pacific Electric Lofts
The developer's sleuthing paid off: The firm initially planned to restore the building's lobby to its 1905 original glory but quickly dug through decades of dirt and decay to discover that the 1947 updates were equally significant, and most importantly, completely intact. The lobby now sparkles with its original 1947 marble floors and interior wood and glass storefronts.

The building's top floors had originally provided quarters for The Jonathan Club, an exclusive men's social club founded in 1895 for Republican supporters of William McKinley. The development team, which included Killefer Flammang Architects, carefully restored the space to its original splendor for use as a gathering spot (in the famed entry rotunda) and library. The club's ballroom now houses three loft units, complete with elaborate arched windows. To top it off, the team rebuilt the former roof garden, which now features a pool, spa, gardens, fireplaces, barbeques, and a dog run.

–Rachel Z. Azoff

MERIT: Adaptive Reuse

Kentucky Home: The Lofts of Broadway

Move over, New York City. Louisville, Ky., is cashing in on the loft craze with its own Broadway debut: The Lofts of Broadway. The early 20th century tobacco warehouse now houses 83 true lofts complete with oversized windows, exposed ductwork, 14-foot wood ceilings, and 9-inch-by-15-inch wood beams. These oversized pieces of wood set the stage for the property, developed and designed by Louisville-based Joseph & Joseph Architects. The lobby features a newly built grand staircase constructed of salvaged wood from the building.

MERIT: Adaptive Reuse - The Lofts of Broadway
MERIT: Adaptive Reuse - The Lofts of Broadway

The project, like any major adaptive reuse endeavor, had a host of challenges. One of the biggest: Finding new windows that met the U.S. Department of Interior's requirements for the property, which was built in 1900. The department's standard, which must be met to receive historic tax credits, requires windows to be repaired and not replaced. But since the windows had rotted beyond repair or were missing altogether, the team had to find a new window that had fixed mullions on the interior, exterior, and between the insulated panels. Oh, and the window profiles had to exactly match the original windows. Talk about a project–no wonder it took the team two years.

–Rachel Z. Azoff

MERIT: Best Reuse of Land

Group Effort: Cityville Greenville

With an eclectic mix of trendy restaurants and bars and traditional bungalow-style homes, the Lower Greenville neighborhood near downtown Dallas is recognized for its uniqueness and its vocal residents.

When local developer FirstWorthing Co. planned to redevelop 3.65 acres along Greenville Avenue by demolishing shuttered buildings and replacing them with a large mixed-use development, residents spoke up.

MERIT: Best Reuse of Land - Cityville Greenville
MERIT: Best Reuse of Land - Cityville Greenville

Six months of neighborhood meetings addressed resident concerns, allowing the developer to move forward with a mixed-use project comprising 128 residential units, 15,000 square feet of retail and townhomes.

The project, designed by Dallas-based James, Harwick + Partners, boasts four distinct zones: high-density retail space; a high-density parking structure; multifamily units with three stories; and two-story townhomes.

The retail portion, which faces Greenville Avenue, features traditional brick façades and flat roofs to blend with the existing retail. The retail, along with the multifamily portion, wraps the parking garage so the apartments' stucco exteriors meet the street. The townhomes, which provide a transition for the existing residential neighborhood, are reminiscent of the bungalow-style homes and offer gabled roofs, individual porches and custom entryways.

–Jennifer Popovec

MERIT: Best Reuse of Land

A New Era: Island Square

After more than 50 years of no new development, downtown Mercer Island, Wash., was pulled into the 21st century by Island Square, a mixed-use complex with 235 luxury residential units and 40,000 square feet of retail and office space.

Cover28.jpg MERIT: Best Reuse of Land - Island Square Michael Walmsley Built on 2.7 acres owned by a prominent local family, Island Square is the first step in realizing a land plan created in the 1970s. The land owner, along with the city of Mercer Island, charged Renton, Wash.-based SECO Development with the task of revitalizing the downtown core–a task full of challenges, thanks to the city's very restrictive zoning. (Only one other building on Mercer Island had more than 100 units.)

Designed by Seattle-based Mithun, the $35 million Island Square features four buildings with luxury residential units stacked on top of ground-floor retail and one office building. With 14 floor plans ranging from 550 square feet to 1,275 square feet, the complex appeals to both empty nesters and young families. The retail space is leased by local and national tenants.

–Jennifer Popovec

MERIT: Marketing and Advertising

Personal Touch: University Park at MIT

Forest City's University Park at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., is hip, edgy, and just plain cool. And you can sense that vibe without even stepping foot in the properties, thanks to the company's newly launched marketing campaign. Start with the Web site, www.universityparkliving.com, where you can take a tongue-and-cheek personality test to see which of the site's four distinct projects best fits your tastes.

Cover29.jpg MERIT: Marketing and Advertising - University Park at MIT Courtesy Mechanica It represents just one aspect of the creative, multi-part solution to the marketing challenge of University Park, a 27-acre, four-property site near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The problem? The developer needed a way to differentiate the four radically different buildings to maximize its leasing efforts through customized selling. So the Cleveland-based developer partnered with IDEO, a product design consulting company that specializes in conducting behavior-based observational research to develop insights into how people use products. (The company also uses IDEO for its marketing campaigns at several of its other urban properties).

Other personalization tools include the 555 Map, which shows restaurants, shops, and other hot spots located five blocks, five minutes, and five miles from the property. To build on the 555 Map, leasing offices offer a wall of free postcards for prospects, from a tip sheet on nearby groceries to a property photo that shows off their new digs.

–Rachel Z. Azoff

THE 2006 MFE AWARDS JUDGES

Jennifer A. Johnston

IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE: A handful of multifamily leaders and Multifamily Executive editors chose the 2006 award winners in July, during a day-long judging session in Washington, D.C., at the magazine's editorial offices. They were, from left to right: Daniel Ashtary, Torti Gallas & Partners; Julie Smith, Bozzuto Management Co.; Loretta Easton, Lane Investment and Development; Greg Bonifield, Woodfield Investments; David Cardwell, National Multi Housing Council; Rachel Azoff, Multifamily Executive; Les Shaver, Multifamily Executive; and Alison Rice, Multifamily Executive. (Not pictured: Boyce Thompson, Multifamily Executive)

THE 2006 MFE AWARDS JUDGES Interested in submitting for next year's awards? Contact Rachel Azoff at razoff@hanleywood.com in March for entry information. Entry fees are generally due in May; awards submissions are due in late June.