Aimco Adding Artistic License to Redevelopment Project

Residents may tell their friends to take the elevator to the Van Gogh Floor for a wine party. Or meet by the elevator near the Quarterback Patio. Cold drinks at the Governor’s Social Lounge  sound refreshing.

Theming apartments to their surroundings isn’t uncommon, but one company is blending its redevelopment projects into the fabric – literally – of the neighborhood. Aimco Apartment Homes, a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) headquartered in Denver, is fashioning apartments with the surrounding area’s cultural flavor that includes the reproductions of some very renowned artists.

The hallways and common areas of the company’s Park Towne Place Museum District Residences in Philadelphia’s Parkway museum district are infused with classic art, and floors are named after famous painters and sculptors. It’s creating a buzz in the City of Brotherly Love; local press is brushing the $100 million redevelopment and residents are chatting up paintings that bond the property with several world-class museums and art galleries within walking distance on Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Artwork gives each floor its own identity

The large swath of art in the 18-story south tower is part of Aimco’s new strategy to build homes that are targeted to specific types of a residents who want to live in destination and identifiable parts of Towne.

One of two redevelopment projects in the city, Park Towne’s 229-unit south tower celebrates artists like 19th-century French sculptor Auguste Rodin to give each floor its own identity.

“There’s a big Rodin mural as you exit off the elevator, and there are pieces of Rodin art on the wall mounts and throughout the floor,” said Patti Fielding, Aimco Executive Vice President and Treasurer who is also responsible for redevelopment and construction services. “It really gives the floor an identity, a very special place to live. It gave us marketing edge and way to create a community that didn’t exist in that market before.”

Aimco has invested in a permanent art collection from local, national and international artists to separate Park Towne from other apartments. A collaboration with Inliquid provides a series of art events and workshops for residents and the public. Rotating exhibits include pieces that are for sale.

The south tower is the first of four towers comprising 954 units that are being redeveloped in the 20th-century building, which was built 1959. While the interior is being updated with modern conveniences, the original exterior lives on to blend with the decades-old museums along the parkway.

In addition to the apartments, an underground 23,000-square-foot town center, which also features artwork, has opened along with the south tower; the east, north and west towers will be redeveloped in the future.

Aimco Adding Artistic License to Redevelopment Project 2

Retail is designed to complement the living experience

The property targets early to mid-30s couples with no children who have dual incomes, single young professionals and graduate students, and 50s-to-early-70s empty nesters. So far, lease-up, which began last year, is about 80 percent complete and achieving underwritten rents.

Residents who responded to a survey say they like where they’re living, Fielding said.

“It’s been extremely well received. Residents love the fact that within we’ve got rotational art as you walk through the door in the leasing center, which really brings theme into the community. It keeps it new, keeps it fresh. People are continually talking about the art we have for sale. It’s really turned into a unique identity.

The intended demographic is driving specific retail in the town center and at The Sterling, another Aimco redevelopment that’s in the heart of Philadelphia’s business district.

Fielding said Aimco has labored extensively to attract the kinds of businesses that will suit the everyday needs of the targeted demographics. Every corner, every inch of space has been planned so residents don’t have a reason to leave once they come home.

The town center has a grocer that prepares fresh foods, and other shops are being recruited to fill other space A dry cleaner handles residents’ laundry. In the east tower, which is up next to lease when complete, the only restaurant on the parkway will take shape. Talks are also under way with two world-class shops who are interested in other space in the tower; Aimco has to decide if one or both are the right fit for the community.

The story is much the same at the Sterling, a 29-story high-rise with 537 units three blocks from city hall. A gourmet coffee shop will occupy a spot in the lobby, and the local market has prepared food and upscale take-out. Several new restaurants are already in place and other service businesses are on tap.

“We are working closely with the retail component to make sure it complements the experience,” Fielding said. “We ask the question, if you lived there, what would you want?  We’ve been very selective of who we’ve brought in from a resident profile to make sure that it is conducive with the space and is very complementary to the customer needs.”

‘It’s not an apartment. It’s a home’

Beyond the retail space, Park Towne and The Sterling have amenities that cater to residents who seek a high-end urban lifestyle in a popular high-rise with modern conveniences. Units and common areas have been designed to take advantage of incredible city views, Fielding said. The Sterling features a large cardio room in its fitness center, and rooftop pool. Park Towne has an art studio and private cabanas at its pool. Residents can work in large tech lounge, surf the Internet with wi-fi in common areas and enjoy the demonstration kitchen in the new Oar Pub as well as the fire pits at the Skyline Lounge poolside.  Dogs and cats are welcome.

Jennifer Lester, Vice President Vendor Management at RealPage, Inc., said Park Towne is turning a new page in the multifamily housing redevelopment book. Traditionally, she said, redevelopments have rubber-stamp designs that reflect the company’s brand, no matter the location.

“(Aimco) is going about it differently now,” she said. “They’re going more toward the lifestyles of residents who they are targeting in that market and creating a home for that person versus everything being cookie-cutter. It’s more they’re creating an environment for the demographic.”

Fielding said Aimco studies the demographics closely for redevelopment projects and makes sure that new projects like Park Towne aren’t just painted into the landscape. Each should possess a certain artistic license to attract select residents who want more than four walls.

“It not an apartment, it’s a home. We’re really creating a home,” she said. “Once you arrive at an Aimco property of that caliber you have no reason to leave. You have everything you need or want within the facility itself.”


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

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Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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