Interview with a ‘CoolTown’ developer

While true CoolTown/creative class real estate developers represent the next generation of real estate developers, they’re still a rarity. I was fortunate to come across one of them, Larry Warshaw of Austin, Texas, developer of the Saltillo Lofts (pictured). Here’s what he had to say…

Why are you targeting the ‘creative class’?

“We started targeting the creative class a little over three years ago with the Pedernales project because we knew that there was a significant hidden demand and we didn�t see anyone else meeting it. The theory was that there was a substantial group of Austinites who wanted to own something in the central city because their friends, their hobbies and their work all center around the urban core. This is the very group of people that gives Austin its identity as a cool, creative place to live. The unfortunate thing was that to find something affordable, this group was being pushed to the generic suburbs surrounding Austin. This meant that they had no good solution because this group naturally abhors the suburbs. Faced with the choice of moving to suburbia and commuting 30 minutes to downtown or just leaving Austin altogether for the next cool place, lots of these creative types will just leave.

None of the �typical� Austin developers really thought about this group as a market, and even if they did, most of them wouldn�t have understood this market�s particular desires and needs. It sure wasn�t showing up on any of the standard quarterly market studies put out by the local real estate groups. Therefore, we just set forward on our own carefully testing our theory along the way. Before we knew it, we had the project 80% reserved and we hadn�t spent 10% of our original marketing budget.

Defining the creative class is a little tricky. While we have lots of musicians, artists, photographers and the like, we also have young professionals who want to keep the creative side of their life alive. We have teachers, professional cyclists, young lawyers, non-profit professionals and people who work for local and state government.”

The story continues tomorrow – How did you come to choosing this development type for the creative class?

Would your community benefit from a Larry Warshaw? Speak your mind below…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *