More than 1,800 people are on waiting lists for downtown Cleveland apartments, according to the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.
For the Downtown Cleveland Alliance and the City of Cleveland as a whole, that’s purely positive. Downtown Cleveland remains a powerful draw.
“It’s a great thing,” said Heather Holmes, director of marketing and public relations at Downtown Cleveland Alliance. “It kind of shows the want and need to locate and live close to where you’re working, where you’re playing, enjoying the various amenities that downtown now has to offer. It shows that there is a demand for downtown and there is a demand for downtown to continue to grow.”
While downtown occupancy decreased from 98.3 percent to 97.5 percent over the past year, the number is so high that it doesn’t really matter, according to Holmes. Essentially, every place is full. It’s just a matter of how quickly apartments are transferred from one tenant to the other.
“What that kind of means is that that (2.5) percent is that 30 days it takes for someone to move out, kind of refresh the unit and then move someone in, so 97 percent in these terms really means 100 percent,” Holmes said. “We’re trying to meet this demand. Every time one comes online, it becomes absorbed, so it’s very exciting times for downtown.”
“Despite adding 350 units over the last year, apartment occupancy remains high at 97.5 percent with most vacancy attributable to a seasonal drop-off in university students, faculty and staff living downtown over the summer months,” Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s latest update said.
That’s been Mark Schildhouse’s experience as well as general counsel for The K&D Group, which manages a number of downtown properties, including Reserve Square, The Residences at Hanna and The Residences at 668.
At Reserve Square, demand was so intense that K&D decided to shut down a hotel that was originally on the property and convert it into residential units, Schildhouse said.
“They saw with Reserve Square the demand they were having down there and realized there could be even a greater demand,” said Schildhouse, who is co-president of Temple Beth Shalom in Hudson.
So K&D kept building.
At The Residences at 668, the building was 100 percent filled before it even opened.
Same with Residences at 1717, which was fully leased five months before, according to Schildhouse.
Schildhouse said The Residences at Hanna are fully occupied with a waiting list. Reserve Square is close.
“The only time they don’t have an occupant in one of those units is when you’re turning it over,” Schildhouse said. “There’s always someone ready with the next unit. We rarely have a situation where we’re sitting with a vacancy. We tend to lease forward.”
The lengthy waiting list to live downtown is not only a game-changer for the city of Cleveland; it’s also a game-changer for those who want to live in downtown Cleveland.
The assumption that “I’m simply going to find a great place downtown to move into when my lease expires in a month” may no longer be true.
“I wouldn’t suggest if your current lease is up in 30 days to assume that the apartment that you want will be available in 30 days,” Holmes said. “I would try to plan in advance and plan accordingly.”
Planning is particularly important given that not all downtown buildings are created equal. Downtown buildings run the gamut in terms of amenities, pricing and quality. In addition, not all downtown neighborhoods are the same. Living in the Warehouse District is a different experience than living in Playhouse Square. Ideally, a potential tenant will leave time to figure out which part of downtown suits him or her best.
There’s no reason to be discouraged if you run into a long waiting list.
Holmes said 275 residential properties are currently under construction and another 4,000 are planned or proposed.
For example, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s latest quarterly report showed six downtown buildings under construction or renovation: The Archer, The Sphere, Flats East Bank, Schofield Building, The Creswell and Park-Southworth Building.
Holmes suggests that prospective tenants check out upcoming buildings as well as those already on the market.
“I would look at units under construction,” Holmes said. “There are a number that are planning to open in the next few months that may not be 100 percent leased out yet, so I would try to stay up on where the new developments are taking place and try to get in there.”