This year, for the first time among our ARI feature projects, we give each renovation an actual ARI rank: a subjective letter grade based on our assessment of how well each renovation accomplishes its ROI objectives, meets its rent and target-market goals, and executes its redesign plans. Turn the page and let us know if you agree—and perhaps pick up some inspiration for your own properties.


Alexandria, VA



THE SITUATION: Located in Alexandria, Va., a historic city eight miles across the 14th Street Bridge from downtown Washington, D.C., and close to a subway stop, Cityside at Huntington Metro consists of four buildings with 569 units on 15 acres. But when the property was purchased, the buildings were extremely dated—three from the early 1960s and one from 1974; moreover, rents were at the bottom of the market, says Benjamin Underwood, regional manager of The Bainbridge Cos., which was brought in to manage the renovation and property.

THE CHALLENGE: Because surrounding buildings targeted mostly upper-end tenants and had achieved top occupancy rates, the new owners knew they needed to undertake remodeling that would introduce an upscale hotel-style ambience that could compete. They were willing to pump in $10 million, beginning last May, to tackle both the exterior and interior.

Cityside at Huntington Metro, Alexandria, Va.
Allen Russ Cityside at Huntington Metro, Alexandria, Va.

THE RESULT: The new design features universally appealing luxe amenities, from a rooftop fitness center to a cyber café, resurfaced tennis court, new pool decking, and completely remodeled units. To date, 220 apartments have been finished. “The building now competes well against those in the median category, including new construction with slightly higher prices,” says Underwood. Best of all: Rents have been increased $200 a month.