Condominiums and Urban development and Development/Redevelopment and Kosene & Kosene and Real Estate & Retail

Kosene condos tout affordability in downtown market

April 9, 2007

Kosene & Kosene Residential Inc. pioneered the downtown market for new-construction condos with luxury projects named after classic cars.

Now, the locally based company is striving to attract buyers for its latest project by adding a new standard feature: affordability.

The strategy behind The Maxwell, a $24 million six-story building along Ohio Street between Park Avenue and East Street, will be to hook customers who feel priced out of downtown. As of April 4, the average price of the 377 downtown condos listed for over $100,000 was $444,505, and the average square footage was 1,872.

Prices at The Maxwell will start at $139,000 for a 575-square-foot unit--a fraction of the prices at previous Kosene projects, including The Hudson, The Packard and The Desoto. About 40 percent of the 105 condos in The Maxwell will be under $200,000, and 95 percent will go for under $300,000. All but five of the condos will be one-level flats. The largest units will be 1,550 square feet.

The market has demanded lower costs, and Kosene got the message, said Managing Partner Gerry Kosene.

"There are a lot of people who want to live downtown, but we need to get it to a price the majority of people can afford," Kosene said.

Downtown real estate guru Kurt Flock expects Kosene won't have much trouble selling The Maxwell.

Flock, of locally based Flock Real Estate Group, provided IBJ with the average downtown condo price of $445,505 based on his own database that uses multiple-listing-service data. The figure is pushed higher by a handful of high-end projects that either haven't started construction or are in the very early stages, including 3 Mass by Halakar Properties and 707 East North Street by Beilouny Luxury Properties.

There were 140 active listings in the $150,000-to-$300,000 range on April 4.

"There's more action in the lower segment of the market, so it's no surprise to me they would organize The Maxwell to hit what they perceive to be a sweet spot in the market," Flock said.

Lower prices won't result in sacrifices on the building's design. It will feature an Art Deco style that looks dramatically different from other Kosene projects. Features include fluted columns, lots of windows and balconies, and a pre-cast limestone facade with glass-block and stainless steel trim.

Following tradition, The Maxwell is named for a vintage car with an Indiana connection. Maxwells were built from 1904 to 1925, when the company was folded into Chrysler Motor Co. Some of the cars were built at a plant in New Castle that is now home to auto parts supplier Metaldyne Corp.

The Maxwell, which will replace the old Harmon Auto Glass building, will include several ground-floor retail spaces along Ohio Street. Kosene hopes to start construction and begin selling the condos in June, said Mark Kosene, who handles sales and marketing for the company.

Units at the Hudson, Kosene's most recent project, sold from $176,350 to $721,517, Flock said. The most expensive units have been the slowest to sell, with 14 remaining units listed at an average of $481,473. Only a few of the listed units are still available, Mark Kosene said.

In addition to attracting buyers looking for more affordable prices, The Maxwell may also draw suburban residents looking for a second home to use on the weekends and out-of-towners who occasionally visit the city, Flock said.

The project will be Kosene's largest in Indiana and tallest to date. But the company also is putting together a bid to redevelop the Market Square Arena site with a project up to 20 stories tall in partnership with Duke Realty Corp and Pedcor Development Co.

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