Luxury apartment buildings, with their rooftop pools, fitness centers full of Pelotons, and tricked-out dog washing stations, have lost some of their luster during the coronavirus pandemic. After all, what good are fancy communal amenities when you can’t, you know, commune?
In its 2020 third-quarter report, Delta Associates, an authority on local commercial real estate, found that DC rents in these types of high-end properties fell 10.7 percent, compared to 2019. Vacancy rates, meanwhile, rose to nearly 8 percent, compared to 4.4 percent last year.
As a result, according to the Delta report: “Concessions are now nearly ubiquitous across the metro area, with multiple months of free rent being offered to entice tenants to move in, especially in high-rise product.” (Even so, a publicist representing the buildings listed below insists winter is always a slow month for new leases, and that the extra perks being offered are meant to help the buildings “express more of their personality and the type of community that exists there during a time when it is harder for residents to socialize.”)
Aside from free rent, a lot of places are getting creative with the incentives. Think: handing out gift cards just for taking a tour, and giving away free TVs—and even Pelotons and new furniture—for moving in. Here’s a sampling of the swag that now comes with signing a DC lease.
Residences at Eastern Market
When new residents choose this building, they’re offered the “Smooth Move Package,” which includes packing and unpacking services, and assistance installing TVs, lighting, and art. They’ll also get a free membership to the concierge service Hello Alfred, with a credit for help with things like grocery shopping, cleaning, or coordinating internet installation.
And if they sign a lease on a two-bedroom unit or larger, they can choose from a Peloton or a Mirror with a year-long membership, a set of Blu Dot furniture, or a custom-designed Elfa closet system.
This luxury apartment building is in Buzzard Point, the newly developed stretch of land between the Wharf and Navy Yard. The Capitol Riverfront BID is hosting a “12 Days of CapRiv” in the neighborhood, during which a series of holiday drive-in movies will be screened. If a guest tours RiverPoint before a drive-in movie, they’ll get treats and hot chocolate to enjoy while watching. Oh, and they can also enter a raffle for a $100 gift card to the forthcoming restaurant the Point and a District Winery wine-tasting kit. And if you sign a lease before the end of 2020, you could get up to three months of free rent.
The Navy Yard apartment building recently hosted an ugly Christmas sweater party for potential residents. People toured the building while stopping along the way for holiday-themed photo ops. Afterward, they got a ticket to a socially-distanced party at the Bullpen, including a free drink. And if renters apply for an apartment before December 24 with a 2020 move-in date, they’ll get two months of free rent on certain units.
This building, also in Navy Yard, recently teamed up with James Beard-nominated chef Jerome Grant of the restaurant Jackie to host a cooking class. After touring the building, potential residents were treated to a box of ingredients and recipes, and Grant walked them through a guided cooking lesson (*insert literal chef’s kiss*). The building is also offering a month of free rent and a waived moving fee.
Novel South Capitol
This luxury building is also, yes, in Navy Yard, and is also, yes, providing new-renter incentives. Erik Bruner-Yang’s restaurant ABC Pony is in the building’s lobby, and during special promotions, would-be renters will receive a gift card for a meal following their tour. If visitors sign a lease by the end of the year, they’ll get a free month’s rent, as well as a gift like a new TV, a Le Creuset set with a $250 ABC Pony gift card, free wallpaper and installation, or a Mirror.