This is the face of luxury apartment living: acres of expensive counter tops, shiny stainless steel appliances, and bathrooms big enough to sleep in.
But that’s not all: Luxury in Lexington apartment living is now expanding to include such touches as a concierge, pet spa, on-site dog park, coffee bar and spaces for community living outside the apartments themselves. If you want a 24-hour fitness studio and a resort-style pool, you’ve got it.
Both new complexes are located in places where you can easily access everything from groceries to an evening out or a nightcap under strings of courtyard lights a stone’s throw from your living room. At The Henry at Fritz Farm, you may even live over Pottery Barn. At WaterStone, you can amble over to Cabela’s or Costco (carefully, because you have to cross Polo Club Boulevard).
The Henry offers gated parking. At WaterStone, you can rent a garage. At the Henry, the luxury countertop surface of choice is granite; at WaterStone, it’s quartz. Both locations allow tenants to add a color on an accent wall to individualize their quarters. The Henry likes Kohler’s upscale plumbing fixtures; WaterStone favors Moen.
Hannah Smith Hall, the community manager at The Henry, said that the apartments, designed to blend seamlessly with retail, offices and restaurants, are “a true mixed-use development.”
The carefree living comes at a price, and it can be steep. At WaterStone, apartments start at $950 a month and top out at $1,475, before utility costs. WaterStone has one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The Henry’s rates run from $980 a month to $2250 before utility costs for its one-, two- and three-bedroom offerings.
At WaterStone, on-site storage units can be had for $55 a month. Garages for an extra $100.
Before you gasp, take note: Hall said that the biggest, most expensive apartments have been in high demand at The Henry, which took even its management by surprise. She also points out that the complex boasts 35 different floor plans, all with a minimum of nine-foot ceilings.
At the Henry, there’s a loft vibe, particularly in the apartments with polished concrete floors. In several of the larger apartments, there’s the wall-of-windows effect found in big-city lofts, along with spiral staircases.
Alysan Niles, community manager at WaterStone at Hamburg, calls the white quartz countertops and vinyl plank flooring in WaterStone’s units “fresh and crisp,” in addition to being pet friendly and easy to clean. In addition to its outdoor dog park and indoor pet spa, WaterStone also includes a hammock area and electric car-charging stations.
Such items are “very integral” to the evolving apartment rental experience, Niles said. “I think people are looking to come home and have everything in the community. There’s an expectation of upgrades and having everything at their fingertips.”
You can still find a place to lay your head in a Lexington rental at around $500 a month, even with utilities paid. But the amenities are going to be fewer, nobody is firing up a coffee bar and you’re probably not getting a pool, much less a colonnade with a bar. Lights will likely not be strung up in your courtyard to facilitate get-togethers, and your “concierge” may be the cashier at the nearby mini-mart.
WaterStone and The Henry are only the most recent entries into the luxury apartment market in Lexington, but they raise the question: Who are the renters who can pay $1,000 and up for a place in which they have no equity and receive no mortgage interest tax deduction? How much money do these residents earn, and why are they spending it on rent?
The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey charts the number of top earners who have entered the rental market. From 2005 to 2015, the number of renter households making more than $150,000 a year increased by 217 percent, jumping from roughly 551,000 to 1.8 million nationwide and making it the fastest-rising sector of the rental population.
Right behind those making $150,000 and above were those making $100,000 to $150,000, which increased by 145 percent over the same period. Lower income brackets showed less growth.
Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies said in its 2016 report “The State of the Nation’s Housing” that “rental demand is expected to remain robust over the next decade,” with millennials and aging baby boomers both boosting the rental market. Meanwhile, home ownership rates for households in their 30s and 40s are continuing to decline nationwide.
The median asking rent for new apartments nationwide was $1,381 per month in 2015, but the typical renter earned $35,000 a year.
The upper brackets pulls in baby boomers and empty nesters. The publication Multifamily Executive noted in a 2014 article that developers have been taken aback by the number of empty-nester baby boomers who have been hitting up open houses for two- and three-bedroom rental units where they don’t have to worry about the roof, the grass or the plumbing.
Hall said some empty nesters have said before touring The Henry, “We couldn’t find an apartment that was as nice as our home.”
After a tour at The Henry, she said, they had found an apartment as nice as their house.
But the apartments also have a few marketing tricks to draw in a curious millennial who may qualify for a one-bedroom.
At WaterStone, prospective renters who work at “preferred employers” such as Toyota or LFUCG get to skip the application fee. The step-out courtyards at The Henry are aimed at younger renters who want to get to know others in the community in an informal manner, as is the community kitchen.
Those who have already moved in at The Henry before the formal opening of The Summit, “all know each other already. They really have this drive to be part of this atmosphere and environment,” Hall said.
What are some of the “luxuries” in luxury apartments?
Inside they include: granite or quartz countertops, high-speed Internet, a washer and dryer, stainless steel appliances, big closets and extra storage availability. Outside amenities include: common space with TVs and WiFi; a coffee bar, 24-hour fitness studio, resort-style pool, a fire pit, outdoor kitchens, pet spa/dog park.