The Republic – Urban lifestyle bid draw for luxury condo buyers

Christia Gibbons
Special to The Republic
Jan. 2, 2008 12:00 AM
 What’s the economic value of bars, restaurants and nightlife? Consider the case of downtown Scottsdale, where two luxury condominiums just sold for $2 million each in one of the worst real-estate markets in years.

Since 2002, about 1,200 of the more than 1,500 condo units that have been built in the area have sold, according to Keith Mishkin of Cambridge Properties. By contrast, downtown Phoenix has seen 587 units come on line since 2000, and 495 have sold, he pointed out.

“Scottsdale and Tempe at the moment are further along in creating a 24/7 lifestyle. They already had it and now it’s about adding residential,” Mishkin said, adding that Phoenix continues in more of a 12/5 environment.  Three main types of buyers moving into downtown Scottsdale – the busy young professional, the move-down buyer and the second-home buyer – are looking for a mature area with lots of shops, galleries and restaurants, said Bill Hammond, president and CEO of Scottsdale-based Signature Properties.

Prices range from about $500,000 to more than $4 million in downtown Scottsdale. The spread is $250,000 up to $4 million in Phoenix, Mishkin said.

“When people consider urban living,” said David Roderique, Scottsdale economic vitality director, “they want a 24-hour experience, . . . lots of activities close by and not just big events.”

He touts Scottsdale’s small restaurants, nightclubs and stores as a bigger draw for downtown than big events like conventions and sporting events.

Mike Trailor built single-family homes for 30 years, but with his Safari Drive project on the northeast corner of Scottsdale and Camelback roads, the developer is entering the condo arena.

Trailor said his goal is “to be part of the answer” to sprawl and start developing urban-living projects. He chose to start in downtown Scottsdale because the amenities were already in place to draw buyers at price points to make such expensive projects feasible.

Even after the abnormal selling years of 2004 and 2005, Mishkin said today’s market is still stronger then 2003.

“It’s no longer ‘Build it, they will come,’ but it’s ‘Build the right product and they will definitely come,’ ” Mishkin said.