Environmentally friendly buildings have always been trendsetters, but the expense of recycled materials, alternative energy systems, and high-efficiency mechanicals could be absorbed by only the biggest budgets. Even today, high-profile luxury buildings like New York's 293-unit Solaire high-rise get most of the press. (
Michael Costa isn't waiting for a rebound in market-rate apartment construction. He doesn't need to. “We're focused 100 percent on workforce housing,” says Costa, president of Simpson Housing Solutions, a California-based subsidiary of Simpson Housing, a multi-family builder and developer based in Denver. Workforce housing, he explains, is designed for households making from 60 percent to 80 percent of the local median income. Many of these are younger people just entering the workforce. “The median home price in Los Angeles County is over $400,000 so these programs appeal to young people in these communities,” Costa says.
When Newton, Mass., developer Chris Yule bought a failing townhouse property south of Boston, he set what many might consider an unusual goal: to make the property more energy-efficient, even though the property's tenants paid for their own electricity. Why bother with such upgrades? Yule believed the investment would attract higher-quality tenants and result in higher rents. He was right. Today, he estimates the return on his investment at 200 percent to 300 percent.
Once synonymous with the New York bohemian lifestyle of SoHo and TriBeCa, the loft has come into its own as a popular choice with young professionals across America. The loft provides an unconventional, hip alternative to the suburban home where most of them grew up. And multifamily developers are buying up old factories and warehouses to meet the demand.