The white countertops inside some of the units at the Cascades Overlook don’t look worn at first glance. Although there are small marks here and there, the average person can’t tell they’re more than 20 years old.
But Carlos Baez can.
The Kettler Management property manager has been overseeing the renovations at the Sterling, Va. property since the interior upgrade project started. While he's impressed that the white Formica counters have lasted this long, he says it's time for them to go.
The McLean, Va.-based company began the renovation in 2012 but has since tapped the brakes with 175 units completed at the 360-unit property.
“We had been doing about five units a month but the owner asked for us to slow down,” Baez says.
About half of the units have been upgraded with granite-style Formica to replace the white counters while birch-colored cabinets were also added to each unit in place of the decades-old cedar cabinets. Gutting the kitchens was just the first step in upgrading the apartments. Vanity areas and bathrooms were also part of the $3.2 million project.
“We’re investing $8,900 per unit and that’s not including the new [kitchen] appliances,” Baez says.
Sleek, black-finished appliances in the kitchen replace the older, all-white ovens and refrigerators.
The small interior upgrades have given the community the facelift it needed to stay competitive as many new communities come through the pipeline in local area. The kitchen portions are the most dramatic part of the renovation as contractors add microwaves to keep up with the new product in the area. However, adding a microwave is not a small task: The wiring for the entire kitchen sometimes has to be redone to accommodate the high-powered appliance.
But the work is well worth it, Baez says. All the upgrades translate to an additional $100 in rent for each renovated unit.
“After we’re done, then basically, they’re walking into a brand-new kitchen,” he says.
As the interior renovations, which are done strictly on turnovers, begin to slow down, Baez is looking toward common area amenity upgrades as part of a future renovation. Although there are ample places to park on the property, he believes covered parking might be an addition worth looking at.
“Especially with the winter we had, it would be nice to have a place to park and not have to get the snow off your car,” he says.
And an open space of slab concrete, residing just outside the pool’s gates, creates a blank canvas of opportunity for Baez’s imagination.
“At one point this was a basketball court, then it was volleyball, now it’s just concrete,” he says. “I’ve gotten marketing involved and we are thinking about how to utilize it. We could do so much out here, it’s really a great place with a lot of possibility.”
Lindsay Machak is an Associate Editor for Multifamily Executive. Connect with her on Twitter @LMachak.