Jonathan Potts has a nice post about where our new downtown dwellers might be coming from, in which he is nice enough to link to AntiRust. He also links to a story in the the Pittsburgh Business Times (registration required) about the market for all the new residential units. That story offers this quote:
Eve Picker, head of no wall productions and a developer of several loft projects Downtown, said that while sales of some properties may be sluggish, especially in unproved residential markets like Downtown, she expects them to pick up soon.
Sluggish? Balls. I just read that the market is booming. From the Post-Gazette:
David W. Bishoff is so pleased with condominium sales at the Carlyle, the soon-to-be-converted Union National Bank building at Fourth Avenue and Wood Street, Downtown, that he's ready to try it again -- right next door.
Even as the ribbon was being cut yesterday to celebrate the start of construction at the Carlyle, Mr. Bishoff said he had a "second phase" of housing planned at its 20-story sister, the Commonwealth Building, next door on Fourth.
Mr. Bishoff, president of E.V. Bishoff Co. of Columbus, Ohio, said that conversion project moved from thought into planning because of the early success of the 21-story Carlyle, where 20 of 60 luxury units ranging in price from $190,000 to $1.2 million have been sold.
Twenty out of sixty units is pretty good. In fact, the Post-Gazette pointed to that statistic in another article:
A few blocks away, at Wood Street and Fourth Avenue, the Carlyle has secured buyers on 20 of 61 condos, ranging from $236,000 to $1.2 million for a top-floor penthouse, and expects to have all sold by next September.
Only that article was published six months ago, on September 24, 2006. Four months before that:
A few blocks down at the Carlyle, another stop on the tour, 16 of 61 units sold even before Realtors had a model to show prospective buyers, said Heather Miller, a site coordinator. Prices for the two bedroom condos range from $205,000 to $1.2 million for a top floor penthouse. A model has just opened.
So they've sold four units in 10 months. Maybe. From a year ago:
Sales at The Carlyle, which should be ready later this fall, are also proceeding well, says site coordinator Heather Miller. Thirteen of the 61 two-bedroom condos have sold, and another six are pending.
Thirteen plus six equals 19. So basically, they've moved one unit since last March? And they plan to sell 41 more by this September?
Look, I hope they do. I think it would be a good thing for more people to move downtown. And as far as I can tell, whatever subsidies the Carlyle's owners have gotten from government hands (if any) amount to less than other developers have gotten.
Still, one unit in 12 months does not seem all that encouraging to me. I admit that I know very little about high-dollar real estate. (Or high-dollar anything, for that matter.) Maybe the developer has not been pushing sales. Maybe people are waiting for the abatements to take hold. (Anyone know what happens if you buy a condo the day BEFORE they go into effect, assuming that they will go into effect?)
Either way, does this seems like a good market for investing taxpayer dollars? Is it a good idea to use public money to entice PNC and the Piatts to enter this game?
Alternatively, if the market is so hot, hot, hot, that the Carlyle is expanding, why do we need the subsidies?