Buckingham Cos. has taken deposits for all 100 apartments in the first phase of its high-profile $155 million CityWay project at Delaware and South streets in downtown Indianapolis.
The first residents of the mixed-use, mid-rise development are scheduled to move Oct. 1 into two buildings with first-floor retail along Delaware Street. Three more residential buildings with a total of 150 apartments are scheduled for completion in the spring of 2013, and already Buckingham has taken reservations on 20 of those units.
The strong response to the project's apartment offerings have led the local developer to consider adding additional units on three acres it owns along Virginia Avenue for a future phase of CityWay, and atop a planned office building at the northeast corner of South and Alabama streets.
"It's clear to us there's a very strong demand for apartments," said Scott Travis, Buckingham's senior development executive. "If the demand is still sustained toward the middle of next summer, we will look at more units."
Travis said the company hasn't developed specific plans for how many more apartments it could add or how it would finance them. CityWay's apartment buildings surround a courtyard, pool, gardens and two large parking garages for residents. The development plans also call for a boutique hotel, offices and a YMCA branch.
Downtown's roughly 7,000 apartment units were 94.4-percent occupied in 2011, a 3-percent gain over 2010, according to data compiled by locally based Tikijian Associates. Buckingham owns six other downtown properties with "minimal" vacancies, Travis said.
The quick lease-up at CityWay is even more impressive considering the above-average rental rates. Units range in price from $975 for a one-bedroom to more than $3,000 for a three-bedroom, three-bath townhouse.
The downtown average for a one-bedroom, one-bath unit in 2011 was $758, and the average for a three-bed, three-bath was $1,788, Tikijian data shows.
Deputy Mayor Michael Huber said he's encouraged that a central premise behind CityWay—that downtown could support many more apartment units—has so far proven true.
"We're really encouraged by the strong demand," he said. "We interpret that as one sign this is a good investment by the city."
The city is acting as the project's bank by raising $86 million from the sale of municipal bonds to pay for most of the construction expenses. Local governments separately have contributed $15 million, mostly for infrastucture improvements.
By the time the first residents move in, work should be complete on a conversion of a stretch of Delaware Street between McCarty and Maryland streets to allow two-way traffic, giving what amounted to a five-lane highway a more pedestrian-friendly feel.
Also slated for completion by mid-September: A revamped South Street with parallel street parking, and more pedestrian-friendly raised intersections at Alabama and South streets and Delaware and South streets.
The plans for a YMCA as well as shops and restaurants within easy walking distance helped convince Amanda McDonald to rent a two-bed, two-bath unit at CityWay for $1,900 per month. The hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and skyline view didn't hurt, either.
McDonald, who runs an Internet travel concierge business out of her home, eventually plans to move into a three-bedroom townhouse unit with a rooftop deck once Buckingham finishes the second phase of CityWay's apartments.
"I just knew I wanted to live there based on everything I had read and seen," said McDonald, 29. "I'm hoping all the retail and restaurants will be opening at about the same time."
Buckingham has inked or is finalizing retail deals for a fine-dining restaurant and a mixology bar for CityWay's The Alexander hotel, and for Qdoba, a pizza restaurant, and a frozen yogurt shop to take space on the first floor of the apartment buildings.
"The response so far has been amazing," said Becca Michel, Buckingham's director of community relations.