Home & Leisure

Apartment owners race to add luxury amenities

Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Competition for tenants who can pay top rents has grown so fierce that landlords are loading up their new buildings with goodies unheard of in years past when a swimming pool and laundry room were considered ample enticements for renters.

In a new downtown Los Angeles apartment complex, residents could be found on a recent hot Friday afternoon washing their pooches in a dog park that offers separate runs for large and small breeds. It's just one of the tenant amenities on a sprawling 2-acre deck that unfolds like a garden courtyard eight stories above Figueroa Street at the towering Circa complex.

Music from hidden Bose speakers changes with locations and intended moods, from classical to pop to dance music as tenants move on flagstone walkways among heated gazebos, gas Viking-brand barbecue stations with tables for group get-togethers, a lap pool for working out and a round pool flanked by well-appointed blue cabanas where casually clad tenants watch television while poking at their digital devices.

"It's pretty sweet," acknowledged tenant Kevin Frampton, who was standing in the pool with a can of beer, reminiscing about watching the British Open golf tournament while lounging in one of the haute huts.

The custom-designed wood-and-canvas cabanas, which will soon have refrigerators, "are each worth the price of a car," landlord Scott Dobbins said, "but they are a marquee for the project."

Dobbins oversaw construction of the $500-million Circa complex, where twin 35-story towers provide residents with views of the downtown skyline and sometimes as far as Catalina Island. Circa's massive block-long video display across from Staples Center can turn night into day on Figueroa Street with its bright, pulsing Nike commercials.

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To help fill its 648 apartments, Dobbins' Hankey Investment Co. and its partners splurged on communal spaces such as a wine-tasting bar and a quiet library where shelves are filled with books arranged by the color of their covers. There are yoga and spin cycling classes for residents.

As is growing more common in high-end residential buildings, the gym is lavishly appointed with the latest equipment and occupies its own glassed-in building on the plaza instead of being tucked in a windowless corner. Every day an attendant puts fresh washcloths scented with eucalyptus oil in a cold refrigerator for people who want to mop their brows while exercising.

About a third of the tenants have dogs, Dobbins said, so it's important to design new buildings with space for them to play, do their business or get shampooed by their owners.

"You almost can't build a project without a dog park now," he said.


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