Investors developing ‘smart’ condos-WEB ONLY

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A pair of Carmel-based investors are planning to redevelop a three-story historic apartment building into upscale, high-tech condominiums at the corner of 22nd and Delaware streets downtown.

The structure, dubbed the “Smart Building at Delaware,” will contain 12 one-bedroom, one-bathroom condominiums priced between $119,900 and $164,900.

Developers say the relatively low price point, combined with the building’s enhanced design and technology, should attract buyers, despite the challenges plaguing the local condominium market.

“People have been coming downtown and saying everything’s too expensive,” said John Karamanski, the agent marketing the property. “We’re going to provide high-tech, high-quality, affordable luxury.”

A hallmark of the building will be its focus on technology. Each unit comes with access to private servers, giving owners the option to store files and control their spaces remotely.

From the touch of a cell phone, for instance, residents will be able to adjust the temperature, control the lights or monitor security cameras in their unit, Karamanski said.

“This is the type of technology that you have in multi-million dollar homes or somebody like Bill Gates’ house,” he said.

Still, with the condominium market in a slump locally and nationwide, some wonder: why now?

Karamanski said the two investors, who he declined to identify, had the funding and saw an opportunity for the building, which sits in the heart of the Herron Morton district.

Plus, he said the market for affordable downtown housing remains strong.

Joe Everhart, an agent with The Sycamore Group, agreed. Most downtown condominiums are priced between $250,000 and $400,000, he said, opening up opportunities for cheaper alternatives.

“When people want to be part of downtown, it’s very difficult if they’re a condo buyer, to be able to find them something in that (lower) price range,” he said.

Herron Morton residents hope the project, if successful, will add new life to the corner of Delaware and 22nd streets, which is also home to a tire shop and garage.

Larry Gregerson, a former president of the Herron Morton Association, said that part of the neighborhood – in the heart of Herron Morton near Fall Creek Place – is ripe for change.

“I think it’s an excellent place to develop,” he said.

The formerly quiet neighborhood has seemingly sprung to life recently, Everhart said, with the opening of new retail shops, restaurants and the development of Axia Urban’s Talbott Commons project at 22nd and Talbott streets nearby.

“The actual live-ability factor has gone way up, I think, in the last two years,” Everhart said.

Developers are hoping to tap into those feelings when marketing the Smart Building to potential residents.

Karamanski, for his part, is working to lure some high-profile young marketing executives to the property’s penthouse units in hopes that they’ll blog about the property and drum-up interest.

Such a word-of-mouth strategy is popular with nightclub owners, who typically reach out to influential socialites to build support for their new venues, he said.

“We’re using social media as a way to show how the project does fit into your life,” Karamanski said.

Construction on the two penthouse units could start as soon as July. Work on the rest of the units, which range in size from 650 to 750 square feet, will begin as the units sell.

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