Luxury apartments on the rise

Friday, September 22, 2006

Luxury apartments: 2&3BR, whirlpool, security cameras, beautiful views, Web, elevator. Satellite and Cable! Great view of the downtown nightlife!

This is what an apartment classified of the not-to-distant future might start looking like in Cape Girardeau, with the increasing demand for so-called luxury apartments.

Such demand is created by single professionals with demanding jobs, new families with no interest in a mortgage and aging empty nesters who don't want to spend their twilight years worrying about a drippy faucet.

They often include whirlpools, security cameras, modern-day appliances, picture windows that offer panoramic views and convenient locations. They come wired for Web connections and a vast array of television channels, and some even come with elevators.

Real estate agent Thomas M. Meyer, for example, is sinking more than $1 million to renovate an apartment building at the corner of Bellevue and Lorimier streets in Cape Girardeau to transform them from regular apartments to "luxury" apartments.

When transformation of the brick building, built in 1950, is finished, it will include a penthouse apartment that will rent for $1,650 a month. That comes with what Meyer calls a great view of the Mississippi River, a wet bar and more amenities he believes some people will pay extra for.

"It's a new niche," he said. "Some people just say luxury apartments to rationalize asking for higher rents. But believe me, if those are luxury, these are premium luxury."

The penthouse will also includes a jacuzzi and an outdoor deck for entertaining. The lower level apartments will range from $950 to $1,000 a month, he said.

Many described the converted lofts above downtown Cape Girardeau businesses as luxury apartments.

Trevor Sumner, 29, lives in one, and he considers his apartment at 40 N. Main St. a luxury apartment. The marketing director at Chartwells Dining Service likes the modern retrofit of the older building. The apartment has classily done exposed brick, hardwood floors and a roomy feel.

Sumner splits the $750 rent with a roommate. But he said he chose his apartment because of the location.

"I always wanted to live downtown," he said. "You probably can expect to pay more for that."

Sumner likes that his apartment is close to the bars and restaurants downtown. Places to shop line the streets.

"I don't have to worry about getting rides home if I stay at the bars too long," he said, chuckling. "And I like it. It's a really nice apartment."

Scott Rhodes, a 34-year-old Plaza Tire executive and member of Cape Girardeau's Planning and Zoning Commission, renovated an old office building at 234 Broadway five years ago. The apartment renters have an enclosed garage, private courtyards and nicer furnishings, Rhodes said. The rent starts at $550 and goes up to $850. Rhodes himself lived there for a year.

"It's extremely convenient," he said. "You can be pretty well anywhere in 10 minutes. I wanted to build them because the best thing about a luxury apartment is it sets you apart from the competition."

But luxury apartments aren't just for younger people. Developer Gerry Jones owns luxury apartments and townhomes in Cape Girardeau and Jackson. Jones owns Rock Creek Meadows near Lynwood Baptist Church with plans for more. He also is in the process of building four more units in Jackson to complement the 26 he already has off of Lacey and Main streets.

"Empty nesters don't have kids at home anymore," he said. "If they're traveling, they don't want to fool with maintenance and things like that anymore. And they like these because they're like a house. They're just attached to another house."

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