Developments with That Hip-Factor

Are developers finally getting hip to what renters want? Today, The New York Times reported on Philadelphia's Piazza at Schmidts (left), a mixed-use rental community with some enviable amenities. Developer Bart Blatstein - who prior to this had been building strip malls - turned a former brewery outside Philly's Center City into an artsy community, with modern-industrial architecture, restaurants, indie shops and most notably an old-style piazza or town square. Anchoring the square, a historic warehouse-turned-office-building's 80-year-old facade is used as a backdrop for live performances and as a spot to project Phillies' games and other televised events. How cool is that?

There's a new wave going on in rental development and it seems that lifestyle amenities are no longer reserved for seniors communities. We found some other forward-thinking rental communities with that urban planners' dream of downtown, historic rehab, mixed-use buildings with hip amenities. Take a look.

Mitchell Wagon Factory Lofts - Racine, Wis.
This former wagon factory and automobile plant was converted into "artist lofts," specifically meant to serve as live-work spaces for artists. The building houses several galleries and resources like a painting studio, kiln, potters wheels, darkroom, computer center, woodworking room and a theater.

Blue Ribbon Loft Apartments - Milwaukee, Wis.
Another former-brewery development, this one turned part of a Pabst Brewery into a 95-unit loft-style apartment
community (with other buildings on the 26-building, 20 acre site to be converted, too). The development is meant to serve the "creative class" with live-work units and with extras for creative telecommuters like a music studio, artists' studios and galleries, a stocked business center, conference rooms, a theater/presentation space and fitness center. That takes working from home to a new level.

Denver Dry Goods - Denver, Colo.
A 100-year-old store in downtown Denver was given a green rehab into a mix of rentals, condos, office space and retails stores, plus eco-friendly heating, cooling and other features.

OK Hotel - Seattle, Wash.
This 1910 hotel, which had a cameo in the movie Singles, now houses affordable studio and one-bedroom apartments plus first floor artist studios.

Know of other forward-thinking rental communities? Let us know.
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