How is an Apartment Like a Car?

Fifield Cos. and Carroll Properties examine the evolution of amenities in their new community.

Evanston, Ill.—Fifield Cos. and Carroll Properties have inked a deal with boutique fitness studio exhale to open its second Chicago-area location at E2 Apartments, the co-developers’ 356-unit apartment project in downtown Evanston. The ground-floor studio is set to open in December 2015.

Founded in 2002, exhale offers mind-body fitness classes, as well as spa and healing therapies. Located at 1890 Maple Ave., exhale Evanston will occupy about 2,500 square feet of E2’s retail space and features a large studio, as well as women’s and men’s changing rooms with showers and a locker area. E2 residents will have direct access to exhale without having to go outside.

Even though apartments are much in demand, properties still need better and more imaginative amenities to compete. Fifield Cos. CEO Steve Fifield compares the evolution of amenities in apartments to luxury features in cars.

“When Toyota started its Lexus brand decades ago, it included air conditioning, power windows, automatic transmission, etc. as standard features,” Fifield told MHN. “GM and Ford made all those same features ‘extras’ that increased car costs much above the advertised ‘base’ price. Lexus had grabbed the car buyers’ attention and made serious inroads on GM and Ford’s market share among mid-priced cars.”

“The same thing has happened with luxury apartments,” Fifield continued. “To secure higher rents for more costly urban land and high rise construction costs, we apartment developers have tried to differentiate ourselves from existing urban projects as well as address the demands of a better educated, higher-income renter with better and more robust amenities and features. Larger gyms, yoga rooms, business centers are not only de rigeur, but expected, to compete for both the Millennials and empty-nesters.”

In other words, apartments still need to stand out. “With the composition of apartment renters changing in urban markets, apartments must be different to be acceptable to a more demanding clientele,” Fifield Cos. vice chairman Randy Fifield told MHN. “In our projects in both L.A., Evanston and Chicago, over 90 percent of our renters are college graduates with median incomes exceeding $100,000 per year. These are rent-by-choice renters who choose to live in upscale buildings.”

“Not only are our amenities more robust, but the finishes—from original public art, high design public area furnishings to Grohe plumbing fixtures and Nest programmable thermostats—are a must to satisfy these more sophisticated renters,” she said. “Exhale Spa gives our renters the convenience of the best ‘mind, body, soul’ yoga operator in the country today.”

Designed to LEED Silver standards, E2 consists of two buildings, a 16-story tower at 1881 Oak Ave. and a 14-story tower at 1890 Maple Ave. The buildings are connected by a four-story structure with three floors of parking and an amenity deck. At the base of E2 is 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. In addition to its tower residences, E2 also has 12 rental townhomes with private entrances along Emerson St.