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Condo Prices Cut Drastically At Americana

A sign of the times, the Excelsior luxury condominium homes at Americana at Brand in Glendale recently reduced prices from a starting point in the $700,000s to a starting point in the $400,000s. “You have to meet the market, and we had the ability to do that,” said Rick Caruso, CEO of Caruso Affiliated, the company that developed Americana at Brand. The condo development, which includes 100 units with hardwood and travertine flooring, designer bathrooms, gourmet kitchens and luxury amenities like five-star concierge services, came online in July/August of 2008. But only nine units sold from the condominium’s grand opening until about six weeks ago, said Caruso. The condos range in size from 1,320 square feet to 2,632 square feet. All have two bedrooms and at least two bathrooms. They were originally priced from the low $700,000s to $2.4 million, depending on size and floor plan. The company cut prices two months ago to $475,000 to $2.4 million. To date, a total of 35 units have sold, the bulk of which sold in the past six weeks, according to Caruso. The neighboring apartment component of the development, the Residences at Americana at Brand, has not reduced lease rates, he said. There are a total of 238 apartment units and lease rates range from $1,925 to $4,715 per month. About 90 percent are leased. “There’s just a real high demand on the apartment side and we’re seeing renewals of leases,” said Caruso. “And the bottom line is there is a market out there on the purchase side.” Typical buyers at the Excelsior include: homeowners looking to downsize; corporations; empty nesters; and a variety of others in the higher income bracket. The $400 million Americana at Brand opened in May 2008. The mixed-use facility spans 15.5 acres and has dozens of up-scale retail shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and the residential component. But the development opened as the economy was taking a turn for the worse, and it’s somewhat of an anomaly for Glendale. “Caruso is it in terms of luxury condominiums of that quality in Glendale,” said Chris Cragnotti, realtor with G & C; Properties in Glendale. There are other luxury condos in the area but they were built decades ago, he added. And, the neighboring 416 on Broadway started as an up-scale condo development but changed to apartments. “The Excelsior and Americana at Brand were so unique for Glendale that people didn’t know how to react,” said Cragnotti. The Excelsior’s previous price point was likely hard for many buyers to stomach considering you can get a house in the $600,000s in Glendale, he said. And the possibility of steep homeowners dues is another sticking point for buyers. Home owner’s association fees are approximately $875 per month at the Excelsior, but Caruso will pay half of the fees for the first two years. Cragnotti likens the Excelsior and its amenities to some of the luxury condominiums in the Wilshire corridor. He said Caruso has also been very aggressive in marketing the apartment side of the development. “The experience comes at a price,” he said, “and that’s the hard part for many buyers in Glendale.” But, attitudes in Glendale are changing, he added, and Caruso is no doubt at the forefront.

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