Another Upscale Apartment Community Opens in Booming Downtown Phoenix

Article originally posted on CoStar on March 11, 2019

The Circa Central Avenue apartments are bicycle friendly and transit focused. Photo: Hunt Cos.

A juice bar and bike-washing station are among the perks in the latest upscale apartment community to open to renters in downtown Phoenix, during what’s expected to be a peak year for apartment construction in the revitalizing area as developers try to keep up with feverish demand for luxury rentals.

Real estate company Hunt Cos. Inc., developer Tilton Development Co. and builder Ryan Companies US Inc., recently completed the six-story, 227-unit project known as Circa Central Avenue, at 1505 N. Central Ave. near Hance Park.

Circa Central, designed by Seattle architecture firm Studio Meng Strazzara, includes four levels of apartments over two levels of parking, several two-story town homes and two on-site creative office suites north of the Burton Barr Central Library and across the street from a Metro light-rail station.

Rents average just under $1,600 a month, 50 percent higher than average asking rates downtown, according to CoStar data. Residents have access to a juice bar, pool, sports lounge and nearly 100 hydraulic bike racks along with a bike washing station, workbench and storage lockers, among other amenities.

Downtown and Midtown Phoenix developers are chasing demand for luxury rentals as the downtown vacancy rate has reached an all-time low of 7.5 percent, a drop of nine-tenths of a percentage point in the past year alone, according to CoStar Analytics. Builders have added 4,500 apartments since 2015, a 20-percent increase in total inventory, with thousands more expected this year, according to CoStar Market Analyst Mike Petrovelli.

Other projects nearing completion are The Link PHX, a 257-unit, 30-story high rise developed by Urban Edge Builders; and City Center on the Park, a 319-apartment community developed by real estate firm Transwestern. Both are scheduled to open this summer.

“Developers continue to churn out luxury units in the urban core to meet demand from renters seeking a live/work/play environment,” reads a CoStar Analytics report. “As the submarket, which includes the Midtown area, grows in popularity, it continues to evolve into a more vibrant urban space.”

With few places to live and not much to do after dark, downtown once emptied out after working hours. However, about $5 billion in public and private investment over the past decade, including construction of 20 Metro light-rail stops, development of the CityScape Phoenix office and shopping center and expansion of the Phoenix Convention Center, is revitalizing the urban core, according to CoStar.

Developers are mostly delivering luxury accommodations like Circa Central, hoping to capitalize on the Roosevelt Row Historic Arts District’s rising status as a walkable center of jobs, homes and entertainment. However, rising rents in the area have also stoked fears that artists may be priced out of the neighborhood they helped revitalize over the last two decades.