Ray Wedell
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
Certified Distressed Property Expert(CDPE)
(703) 855-7299
fax 703-483-3548

raywedell@comcast.net




Penthouse Living; Castles In the Sky

 


LUXURY REAL ESTATE IS THE NEW GLOBAL CURRENCY , December 29, 2012 - An unrecognized trend in the local real estate market is the rise in luxury real estate around the world as a new global currency. The need to avoid the vagaries of paper currencies around the world, the enormous wealth  being generated outside the United States, a chronic shortage of truly premier properties in urban areas, and an inability to generate new supply are all pointing to spiking prices in America's premier urban centers.

On the East Coast, the phenomena has been most pronounced in New York and Miami, with Sandy Weil's recent sale of 15 Central Park West to a Russian businessman for $88 million setting new price records which were soon shattered by a $100million sale.. This equates to $13,000/square foot, in a market which is currently generating $8,000-$10,000/square foot pricing for premier penthouse homes. The Weil sale is twice what he paid, and his prior purchase was the high price for the building at the time.

Where is it coming from? Everywhere. Steve Wynn and David Geffen are the buyers for the next two highest priced NYC sales. Reports from Miami are of strong European and Latin American buying, with Brazilian interests a recent force. The bottom line is this: There are more uber-rich around the world seeking to buy premier penthouses in prime urban locations than there are places to buy. With the possibility of international financial turmoil always seemingly a day away, the buyer for your $10,000,000 place may seem ludicrous to the average D.C. resident, but it is a bargain safe haven for many others.

My point is this: The D.C. luxury market is being more linked to trends in other cities than in the past. The idea that a force field exists along the Potomac River keeping large segments of buyers from even considering Virginia is long past. With D.C. height restrictions as a driving force, luxury penthouses in Virginia are likely to dramatically increase in price and value over the next few years. Washington, D.C. is much more of an international city, more of an "in" location than ever. The power center of the U.S. government is also an obvious plus that will increase in stature over time.

Bottom line: It is time for D.C. penthouse homes to be marketed and sold in ways similar to New York, Miami, and other Class A international locations. The trend is for an influx of buyers looking for this type of home exceeding the availability. We should be preparing for this trend, and not be shocked by the changing face of our economy and our population.


 

NORTHERN VIRGINIA IS THE PLACE FOR UPSCALE   PENTHOUSE LIVING IN D.C.

 


FOR A LISTING OF ONLY THOSE UNITS WHICH QUALIFY AS TRUE PENTHOUSE HOMES IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA: 

 


December 22, 2012: See, "Luxury Along the Potomac":BARRON's(page 33) JUMPS ON BOARD IN IDENTIFYING THE THE NO. VA./D.C. MARKETS AS "the greatest wealth-creating epicenter in the country, well worth a fresh look." They specifically discuss the severe height restriction laws in D.C. as a driver for luxury high rise construction in Virginia, which we discuss in details below.




An exciting form of living has emerged in Northern Virginia, one made popular by changing life styles, the growth and awareness of Washington, D.C. as an international urban capital, and height restrictions in D.C. proper limiting the height of any structure within D.C. city limits.

The inability to buy a true luxury hi-rise penthouse home within D.C. geographical limits has helped create a demand for quality hi-rise condominiums close to D.C., and also within the new urban centers like Tysons Corner and the Reston Town Center.

This is not a life style or type of living with which many in our area can historically identify, nor fully understand. It has been said in jest that many people from Maryland or D.C. view Virginia as a different country, with the Potomac River as a natural boundary. The bottom line is this: even long-term D.C. and Maryland residents who would never have imagined moving to Virginia are among those seeking penthouse Virginia living. And the convenience to major D.C. sites and employment areas from Arlington and Alexandria is much greater than from any points in Maryland. Afterall, it is often said that George Washington threw a coin across the Potomac River from D.C. to Virginia. Granted, the dollar went further in those days.

Because of height restrictions in D.C. which disallow any structure being built higher than the U.S. Capitol, the only way to capture the beauty of Washington from above is from the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Recent changes in Arlington zoning laws, and developer creativity, is creating a situation in which the D.C. skyline is becoming defined in large part by structures on the Virginia side of the Potomac. And from these structures, residents can avail themselves of world class views to the nation's capital, in addition to being conveniently within striking distance of virtually any major location within D.C.



Also, the new urban centers, particularly the Reston Town Center, have incredible penthouse homes which bring the elegance and quality of urban living to the new urban cores, at a fraction of theprice of those on the Potomac.


I decided to focus on this very specific market segment because I believe there is a need for someone who understands and identifies the dynamics of penthouse living. It is difficult for any real estate agent to make the jump in logic from understanding buying into traditional single family neighborhoods or general condominiums into thoroughly understanding the dynamics of penthouse living. By penthouse living, I am not referring to any top-floor unit on a 5- or 6- level building, but those homes which are truly "castles in the sky"; expansive in size, perched high within a desired location, and having unmatched views.

I have lived in Manhattan and understand the life style and reasons why many people would seek this urban style of life. In fact, many could not imagine living any other way. If you are selling a penthouse condominium, it is imperative that you choose a real estate partner who understands the marketing dynamics involved in this type of purchase, and can implement a successful plan. If you are buying a penthouse condominium, it is equally imperative that you work with a real estate professional who knows the pluses and minuses of the available inventory, both new construction and existing resales. In this market, it is crucially important to understand not only the dynamics of the general community, but the details of each alternative building and home. In no other form of housing is the minute detail of each home, community, and building more important than in choosing a penthouse home. Call or email me for a frank and detailed discussion.

 






SPECIFIC AREAS/BUILDINGS OF INTEREST

 

Reston Town Center


Mid Town Towers - Perhaps the best-known of the high rise buildings in the Reston Town Center, Mid Town Towers are centrally located, on Market Street. Built by Kettler, Mid Town did not come online until 2006, a fact which initially eroded the equity of many initial buyers caught in the subsequent real estate down draft. This created outstanding opportunities for buyers who value quality construction, unmatched convenience, and extensive amenities. A 21 story twin tower complex, Mid Town Reston considers the floors 17 through 21 as "penthouse" homes because of their height location, higher ceilings, and greater amenities. They range in models from the 3 bed room "Bentley", "Sanford", and "Hubbard" models to the 2 bed room "Blackburn", "Excelsior", "Belvedere", "Regent", and "Whitney" models.

I have developed extensive price history for Mid Town Towers, well beyond what you will receive from standard sources. Please Contact Me for more details on Mid Town and other Reston Town Center penthouse homes.

FOR UP-TO-DATE LISTINGS @ MID TOWN .....   CLICK HERE



 The Paramount - The Paramount is a 100 unit building known for its quality construction, open and spacious units, high ceilings, and excellent location. Although you do not get the same feel when walking out the front door that you are immediately immersed in the Reston Town Center (as you do at Mid Town), The Paramount is actually closer to the heart of town, just a one block walk to the Reston Town Center fountain.

The penthouse units in The Paramount are generally larger than those in Mid Town, with higher ceilings. The Paramount is a 15-story high rise; floors 2 through 12 have 8 units, and floors 13 through 15 have only 5. They designate these 15 higher-level homes as "penthouses"; however, I personally consider only the 3 homes wrapping around the outside of the building as true penthouses. I say this because of their unmatched floor space, dramatic open floor plans, and panoramic multidimensional views. Two of the nine penthouse homes have incredible outdoor terraces, and are worthy of consideration as the best of class.

I am intimately familiar with the Paramount and have developed extensive price history which is unmatched from standard sources. To understand The Paramount in more minute detail, please Contact Me. I look forward to discussing this in as much detail as you require.

 

For a listing of available homes in The Paramount.....  CLICK HERE

 



Stratford House - The Stratford House was the first high rise condominium building in the Reston Town Center. Located across Reston Parkway and directly entering the Reston Town Center via Market Street, the Stratford House has an established identity and population, and a very stable HOA.



Extending to 14 floors, the rear of the building faces an open expanse with views toward Tysons Corner and points East and North. The front of the building faces the Reston Town Center. The number of homes in the Stratford House which qualify as true "penthouse living" are limited, although some will be advertised as such. The "Exeter model", a 3 bed room home which faces directly in the front and with views straight down Market Street, is the one type of model which stacks up well compared to the penthouses in The Paramount and MidTown Reston.

I have developed an extensive price history for the Stratford House and can discuss in great detail the merits and pricing for this building. Please Contact Me for more detailed information, an informed discussion, or both.

For active listings in the Stratford House....... CLICK HERE

 


The Carlton House - The Carlton House is a 13 story high rise condominium building which began occupancy in 2006. It is located two blocks south of the Stratford House, on Reston Parkway. The Carlton House has a rooftop pool, a huge and comfortable top floor lounge, and many amenities on the main level.

Although officially considered "Reston Town Center" property, the Carlton House does not have the location and feel of the three major Reston Town Center high rise condominiums. It is the closest building to Reston's new Silver Line Metro Station.


FOR A LIST OF AVAILABLE HOMES IN CARLTON HOUSE .....  CLICK HERE

 

Castles in the Sky at Tyson's Corner


Park Crest - Park Crest is a condominium tower located in the dominant Tyson's Corner district of Northern Virginia. In addition to being a premier shopping and business hub for the area, the Silver Line metro/subway line will soon pass through Tyson's Corner, making the allure of Park Crest even greater.

Park Crest has homes priced from the $300,000s to over $2,000,000. Its residential Tower, Park Crest One, features five penthouse home models on floors 18 and 19 of this 19 story tower. This allows for sweeping panoramic views of the Metropolitan area.

Located approximately midway between the castles in the sky at Reston Town Center and those close to the Potomac River, this may be an area which does not immediately come to mind as a destination for those seeking this style of living. It needs to at least be in the discussion. Please call or email me for more information and an independent comparison of Park Crest to others of its ilk.

 
FOR ACTIVE LISTINGS IN PARK CREST..... CLICK HERE

 

Castles in the Sky Near Washington, D.C.


Turnberry Tower Arlington - Approximately 12 years after initial approval process began, the incredibly upscale Turnberry Tower Arlington opened in 2007. The entire building is of five star construction, with attention to detail apparent in each home and amenity.

Turnberry Tower Arlington is located in Rosslyn, Virginia, just across the Key Bridge from Georgetown, in Washington, D.C. Floor plans range from 9 to 11 foot ceilings, and many homes have private elevators. A major differentiating factor in Turnberry Tower homes are the expansive balconies (many competing buildings have no balconies) and the thick floor-to-ceiling glass walls which allow clear views from the inside, yet shield those inside from outside view.


The 26-story Turnberry Tower features 247 residences. Many of the homes have private elevators. The materials, appliances, and amenities read like a list from only the most exclusive available in the world. Turnberry. Ltd., based in South Florida, is among the premier names in luxury real estate development. There are more abundant amenities in Turnberry Tower than you will find in most luxury condominium residences anywhere. Rather than rattle them off here, call or email me for this impressive list.

One of the major ways in which I can help you is to help sift through the differences between Turnberry Tower Arlington and its immediate neighboring buildings, and perhaps more importantly, to provide the critical unit-to-unit analysis within Turnberry. The major factors in this regard are obvious: the height of the unit; the direction the unit faces; the likelihood of competing development in the future which may or may not impede current views.

The Turnberry Tower is designed so that homes on the 19th through 26th floors are considered "penthouse" homes, with higher ceilings, more sqaure footage, and access to more amenities. As one would expect, the higher one goes, the more elaborate the home, with fewer homes per floor, and more spectacular D.C. views. The 26th floor "TS" model, with 5,304 square feet of living space, a 742 square foot balcony, and incomparable panoramic views of Washington, D.C., may qualify as the premier penthouse in the D.C. Metropolitan area.



If you have interest in Turnberry Tower Arlington, I strongly recommend that you call or email me It is important to note that if you want a thorough independent review and comparison both of the homes in Turnberry Towers and some extraordinary homes in other nearby locations, you will not get that analysis and review exclusively from any developer's in-house staff. Using the services of a qualified and independent Realtor are essential in this regard. Also, I can offer independent analysis and review of those offerings on existing units which are offered for resale, something you will not get from in-house personnel.


If you have a home for resale in Turnberry Tower Arlington, please call or email me. You may find that having your home marketed and sold through an independent expert will position it more favorably than if you are part of a pool of offerings mixed with the list of homes on the in-house new construction list.

 

FOR ACTIVE LISTINGS IN TURNBERRY TOWER .......  CLICK HERE
 

Waterview (above the former Hotel Palomar, now Le Meridian) - Elegance. Non-traditional. Boutique-inspired luxury. Cosmopolitan. Stylish. Convenient.

These are the words which staff and residents of Waterview seem to use most frequently in describing the unique reasons why they love their homes at Waterview.



Located just two blocks from Turnberry Tower Arlington, Waterview is situated at the former Hotel Palomar, a boutique European-style hotel drenched in elegance. World-renowned architects Pei Cobb Fried & Partners created the Waterview on floors 14 through 30 of the hotel, in a location which is arguably the most identifiable piece of skyline on the Potomac River. In March, 2012, Starwood Hotels purchased the hotel and is undergoing an exquisite renovation under it Le Meridian name. Even more than before, the hotel will reflect an international flair and ambiance in keeping with Washington D.C.'s rising status as an upscale, international destination. This will only have positive spill-over effects for the homes above, at The Waterview.

The connection with Le Meridian allows residents at Waterview a unique blend of amenities not commonly associated with condominium living at even the most exclusive residences. These include, but are not limited to, the following: same day dry cleaning; 24-hour valet parking; limousine services; room service; first class concierge; business services; massage; car detailing; spa treatment and fitness trianing; access to hotel meeting and function space; cooking classes; access to personal shoppers; translation services, and reserved seating at major events. There is also a large rooftop terrace with unmatched views of Washington, D.C., available only to residents.

The homes at Waterview are built with precision and attention to details. As in Turnberry Tower Arlington, the quality names are recognizable throughout when examining the amenities, cabinetry, and flooring. Wireless technology pervades the entire building.



Unencumbered views of Washington, D.C. begin in earnest on the 18th floor; however, I am not comfortable calling anything beneath floor 24 as a "penthouse" quality home. On floors 24 and 25 there are 6 units with divergent views. On floors 26 through 28, the footprint is the same on each floor with one major exception: on floor 26, the two units facing the Potomac River on floors 24 and 25 are merged into one spectacular "QR" model, with 3,838 square feet of living space. Floors 29 and 30 house only 3 units, each providing a different level of elegance and quality.

As with any penthouse home, you will benefit from a thorough, independent review of each building, location, and available unit. I pride myself in working with the excellent in-house staff at Waterview, and will help you extract all of the most pertinent information you need to make an informed buying decision. This level of independent analysis and expertise, by definition, is not possible if you merely discuss your needs with staff employed by any specific building. Please call me for a thorough review and analysis of any home you may consider in this category.

If you currently own at Waterview and are considering a future listing and sale, you may be best served by listing with an independent professional who will market your home in its best possible light, rather than including your listing in the pool of available new homes presented by the exceptional in-house sales force. Please feel free to call or email me for an independent and confidential analysis of your home.

FOR ACTIVE LISTINGS IN WATERVIEW, CLICK HERE.


The Representative - The Representative is a 12- story luxury condominium building with 206 units. Built in 1976, it is less than 10 minute walk from the Metro subway lines.

I am reluctant to include The Representative in our Castles-in-the-Sky category for several reasons which we can discuss when you call. Primarily, it is extremely convenient to Washington, D.C., I prefer to include those buildings which have immediate pedestrian access to the many amenities of urban centers.

The Representative is located on a very high point, allowing for excellent views from its top floors. The lobby is huge, and dripping in marble in the older, grand style. There is a unique style to the building and the homes with much use of angles and curves not as common in today's newer construction.

For more information about The Representative and how it may fit into your housing serch, please call or email me.

FOR ACTIVE LISTINGS IN THE REPRESENTATIVE,  CLICK HERE.



Waterford House - The Waterford House shares a location with the Crystal Gateway. Together they form a horse shoe-type structure, with a pool and landscaped gardens as shared property.

Rather than duplicate another section, I refer you to the section on Crystal Gateway. The underlying difference between Crytal Gateway and Waterford House is that Waterford House is a combined office/residential building, housing office space on the lower levels.

I encourage you to call or email me for further information about Waterford House and how it compares to other buildings of interest.

FOR ACTIVE LISTINGS IN WATERFORD HOUSE, CLICK HERE.



Crystal Gateway - Crystal Gateway is a 17- story condominium community, with one two-story penthouse. Built in the mid-sixties, the building has no more than four condominium units on any one floor, with some floors having only three. The foyer and halls were redecorated in 2007, and major upgrades to balconies, energy-conservation measures, and heating/cooling systems have all occurred within the last five years.

Crystal Gateway has an indoor pool, exercise facilty, large party room, and expansive lobby. Each unit has a caged storage unit in the garage. All homes are spacious, with two bed room homes averaging 1,500+ square feet, and three bed room homes at approximately 2,300 square feet on average. The penthouse is recorded at 2,780 square feet.



Cutting right to the chase, here is what most people consider the major benefits of Crystal Gateway:

 1) Being one of the first structures built of its kind, Crystal Gateway secured one of the best locations in the area. Panoramic views of the Potomac River, Washington Monument, the Capitol, and other D.C. landmarks are accessible without site line interference even on those units not designated as "penthouse" units.

2) Convenience to restaurants, shops, transporation. Crystal Gateway is located right at the Yellow and Blue lines of the Metro system. There is also a Metro station for the Virginia Rail Express commuter line, Arlington transit buses, Omnilink commuter buses, and a short taxi ride to D.C. or Reagan National Airport. Crystal City itself has become an active night spot with quality restaurants and shops, many of them a short stroll from your front door.

3) Expansive balconies open off living rooms and in many cases, off master bed rooms. There are condominium buildings in the area with no balconies, or with balconies so small as to be of limited utility. Not here.

Crystal Gateway is located alongside the Waterford House, which has both condominium homes and office space. The two buildings form a horse shoe-style appearance, sharing a landscaped courtyard and pool.

Crystal Gateway is a popular building with much to offer for those seeking convenience and an urban life style. Please call or email me for further details.

FOR ACTIVE LISTINGS IN CRYSTAL GATEWAY, CLICK HERE.


Memorial Overlook - Memorial Overlook is a spectacular condominium project with only 35 homes. It has been acclaimed as "the best new development condomium project in the Mid-Atlantic" among other kudoes.

Technically, this is not a "castle in the sky". However, it is included in this section for much the same reason as the Prospect House: because of its perch on the bluff overlooking Iwo Jima Memorial, and the spectacular views of Washington, D.C., the feel from inside the homes is of a much higher elevation. The quality of life is superb.



The homes in Memorial Overlook are extraordinary. Sub-zero, marble, wrap-around terraces, state-of-the art fitness center, 24-hour concierge, expansive terraces/balconies....these are among the many words tossed about freely when describing Memorial Overlook.

Memorial Overlook is a first class condominium community with outstanding views and premier convenience. For these reasons, we include it in this section and encourage you to call or email me for more details.

FOR ACTIVE LISTINGS IN MEMORIAL OVERLOOK, PLEASE CLICK HERE.


Prospect House - The Prospect House was opened in 1965 and is truly a unique building in a fabulous location, built on a cliff behind the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington. There are many things the building does not have; however, the one thing it does have which cannot be duplicated is clear, unobstructed views of Washington, D.C. from a 13 foot tall wall of glass and the same view from a large, accompanying balcony. This one feature alone makes The Prospect House a special building in a special place.

Because of the unusual design of the units, the elevator only stops at every third floor. Units of interest are those on the higher floors, which are 2 bed rooms and 1,530 square feet. Once again, let me stress: these are included in this section only because the location and design provide premier views of Washington, D.C., probably unmatched in the area. They are NOT loaded with all of the modern conveniences and sprawling internal space that one would expect from a pure "penthouse" home. But once inside, a resident will be unaware of what floor he/she is on, merely that you are at a high elevation peering at the Nation's Capital in all its splendor.

For more information and discussion on Prospect House. please feel free to call or email me.

FOR ACTIVE LISTINGS IN PROSPECT HOUSE, CLICK HERE.

 

Bella Vista - Bella Vista is a 21- story high rise on Eads Street, boasting easy accessibilty to National Airport, two subway stops, and the emerging urban center of Crystal City.

Bella Vista is not as pedestrian friendly as some of the other buildings in Crystal City; by this, I mean that  one does not go out the front door and immediately feel the pulse of the urban environment, and most restaurants are more than a short stroll away. Convenient, but not immediate convenience.

There are several penthouse homes in Bella Vista with spectacular views, and when offered for sale, can generally be purchased well below the price of comparable new units in other parts of town. This makes them an attractve alternative for those whose primary consideration is the view from inside the homes itself.

To understand how the Bella Vista might compare with other alternatives you are considering, please call or email me.

FOR ACTIVE LISTINGS IN BELLA VISTA, CLICK HERE.


The Odyssey - The Odyssey is located just two blocks from Courthouse Station Metro, and a short stroll to the heart of Arlington's restaurant corridor, shopping, and entertainment arcades.



The Odyssey has marketed its 10th to 15th floor units as "Platinum Penthouse Suites". Although these homes have many high-end features, many of these simply do not pass our test as being "castle-in-the-sky", penthouse homes comparable to many of the others mentioned in this section. They are very nice and well-appointed homes, and priced as nice and well-appointed homes.

If you are seeking a well-appointed condominium in a very convenient neighborhood, The Odyssey may be for you.  For further discussion on The Odyssey or its peers, please call or email me.

FOR ACTIVE LISTINGS IN THE ODYSSEY, CLICK HERE.



The Belvedere - The Belvedere has one of Arlington's best locations in terms of both access and views. As with many condominium buildings in Arlington, there is substantial difference in views given slight changes in height or location within the building. Having said this, a large percentage of homes have exceptional views of the Iwo Jima Memorial, Washington Monument, and The Capitol.

The Belvedere has been undergoing a $4,000,000 face lift, which will make the building an even more attractive place for those seeking quality and convenience within the urban life style. The amenities are outstanding, with an outdoor pool, fitness center, tennis courts, library, 24-hour concierge and more. It is only three blocks from the Rosslyn Metro Station.

The Belvedere has several penthouse units which line up beautifully with a site line of Washington, D.C. From these, you get a spectacular view (even moreso at night) of Iwo Jima, the Washington Monument, and The Capitol, all lined up as if in formation.

This building has much to offer and sometimes flies below the radar screen when one discusses the quality high-rise market in Arlington. Generally, homes sell quickly here, for reasons stated above, and because listings prices have hit the market at very attractive levels, vis-a-vis the competition.

The Belvedere is a good value in general. On those occasions where one of their upper-level penthouses, with dramatic views, comes available, they are worth seeing as a lower-priced way to capture the benefits of this life style. If you have interest in The Belvedere or want to compare it to other alternatives, please feel free to call or email me.

 
FOR ACTIVE LISTINGS IN THE BELVEDERE, CLICK HERE.


 

 

 

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