Lake Street in Minneapolis is hopping with activity on a mild Monday morning, as the city wakes up and starts heading back to work.
Yet few lights are on inside the Lake Residences, the uber-pricey new high rise on the north end of Lake Calhoun, where monthly rents in excess of $6,000 aren't uncommon.
It looks like nobody's home. That's because they aren't. According to the building's website, only 11 of its 90 units have been rented thus far.
The building was originally billed as an experiment in luxury apartment rentals. It wasn't just going to proudly become one of the most expensive places in the Twin Cities. The Lakes would push the upper echelons of cost, a rental option for the ultra-wealthy that had, until recently, been reportedly underrepresented in this market.
More than 400 inquired up-front about living in one of the plush flats, according to the Star Tribune.
That marketing enticement today oozes saccharine sweet, pitched as "an extraordinary alignment of savoir-vivre and urban flair" that reaches eight floors. Translated into everyday speak, "savoir-vivre" means the ability to live well. At the Lakes Residences, that means a powder room in every unit, 24/7 concierge service, and custom cabinetry.
The cost for these kind of digs? A sixth floor 1970-square-foot two bedroom, 2.5 bath, for instance, comes in around $6,800.
Sam Radbil of the rental website Adobo isn't willing to say the tepid response to the Lakes means the Twin Cities hit its rental price ceiling. Though the building's rents do come as a sticker shock to Radbil, he believes the renters will come, eventually.
"Whether it's Minneapolis or Atlanta or Denver," says Radbil, "what we've seen in all of these markets is there's an unmet luxury market. Now, I don't know if the market will react quickly in Minneapolis to fill that building. But I've got to think the developers didn't build it without first doing the research that shows there is a market."
The Lakes belongs to Greystar, a South Carolina developer. Repeated messages seeking comment for this story went unreturned.
Radbil points to other factors to help illustrate the point that prices here aren't flat lining. Six months ago, according to Radbil, Minneapolis' one-bedroom apartments averaged $1,140 per month. As of October the mean is closer to $1,500.
Radbil says there are still Minnesotans, or would-be Minnesotans, who want to live in luxury without signing a mortgage or getting involved with the homeowners association of a condo development. And some of them have "plenty of money" to spend.
"People often forget," he says, "renters aren't just the people who moved to Uptown after they graduated from the University of Minnesota."
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