Madison’s past and future collide at The James

Madison is continuing to enjoy a still relatively recent renaissance in multifamily construction and development, one that’s offering a wealth of luxury housing opportunities for young professionals right in the heart of downtown.

Among the latest projects is The James, a 12-story, 366-unit building being developed by Core Spaces, a Chicago-based real estate development and management firm, which is running ahead of schedule for completion. Core Spaces recently celebrated the feat by placing the last yard of structural concrete on the roof deck of the building.

“Core Spaces is proud to work with the local community to transform downtown Madison with modern facilities of the highest quality, while honoring the past by paying tribute to the city’s founders and namesakes, including James Madison,” says Eric Grimm, Core Spaces chief development officer. “This transformation includes The James housing community, an iconic building at a prominent location that blends the best of new and old.”

Exterior shot from along University Ave. and Gorham St. of in-progress construction at The James.

“The biggest challenge for a project like this is the fight against time with construction,” notes Melissa Flath, director of new business for Core Spaces. “It impacts the ability for residents to move in, but it also impacts leasing. If a building looks like it’s not going to be completed before the scheduled move-in day, then residents will get scared and not sign a lease with us. Thankfully, we have a fantastic construction team that is ahead of schedule and have topped out with construction almost a year before the scheduled move-in date.”

The James, located at 432 Gorham St., is being developed in the heart of the downtown area with easy access to nearby restaurants, shops, nightlife, and cultural and recreational attractions, and just steps from the University of Wisconsin campus and Capitol building. The James East will be completed in time for June 2017 move in, while The James West will be move-in ready by August 2017.

Blended housing

Madison is a unique market because the traditional student housing market and the traditional multifamily market have overlapped to the point of a merger, notes Flath.

Aerial rendering of what the rooftop deck of The James will look like once completed.

“In traditional university markets we see a trend of student housing developments, and in urban, more ‘downtown’ markets we see multifamily developments,” Flath explains. “However, usually, the university area isn’t the same as the downtown area. Madison is one of a handful of markets where the two merge and we find a good mix of both. That’s where The James comes in. We are the best mix of both in an area that requires both. Students can still have a bit of the ‘college scene,’ and some young professionals want to stay a little closer to the community feel that comes with an amenity-rich apartment near a university.”

According to Flath, Madison is home to a new type of renter who wants the best of both worlds, regardless of if they are a student or young professional. “We’ve seen a need to accommodate that renter and we feel that we are heading the race to catch them.”

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Amenities rich

Just because The James will be home to a mix of university students and young professionals, don’t expect it to resemble the first apartments many of us remember.

In a competitive multifamily housing market, new developments all seem to boast the biggest and brightest amenities aimed at creating a real sense of community where residents can live, shop, and play.

The James includes two residential wings and numerous community/lifestyle areas that Core Spaces executives say were designed to pay homage to Madison’s rich history.

The James East living space.

In total, The James will offer 366 units and 850 bedrooms, Flath says. James East will feature unfurnished, studio to two-bedroom apartment homes with luxury finishes — like Nest thermostats, open cabinets, and tile backsplashes in kitchens — that are leased by the unit. The James East will also offer a private trophy room located on the top (12th) floor with billiards, a fireplace, and outdoor deck with barbecue grills.

James West will offer furnished studio to five-bedroom apartments with double occupancy and roommate-matching options available, Flath notes.

Living space at The James West.

The two wings are separated by an access-controlled door and a private set of access-controlled elevators. All apartments come equipped with an in-unit washer and dryer, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, and Bluetooth speaker showerheads.

“Because of these two separate offerings, The James caters to just about anyone looking for amenity-rich apartment life in downtown Madison,” says Flath.

When finished, The James will also feature a fitness center; yoga room with outdoor meditation garden; spa with steam room; virtual trainer and classes; club room with lounging areas and a coffee bar; “mini-market” Breakroom Provisions; executive business area with computers and printers; a climate- and access-controlled parking garage; and free, building-wide high-speed Wi-Fi. The complex also will house convenient retail shops.

According to Flath, The James East rents will vary from $1,075 for a micro studio to $2,549 for the largest two-bedroom. The James West rents start at $539 for a shared bedroom with a shared bathroom up to $1,444 for a one-bedroom on the top floor. There will also be upgraded apartments that will offer upgraded appliance packages and restricted floor access (12th floor) or a private terrace with furniture.

Additionally, all of the amenities listed above are included in residential rent. Also included are cable, internet, and trash/recycling. Underground parking will be assigned at a rate of $250 per month.

“Our goal with every housing community we develop, including The James, is to locate them in growing, sought-after areas where people really want to live,” notes Ben Modleski, Core Spaces chief operating officer. “Then we develop housing that meets residents’ needs and fits their lifestyle. We expect that The James will offer a highly appealing living option that fits well with the active, vital Madison lifestyle.”

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