Tue / 26 April 2016
These 5 Smart Technologies And Concierge Luxuries Are Reinventing Real Estate
APRIL 22, 2016
These 5 Smart Technologies And Concierge Luxuries Are Reinventing Real Estate
By Peter Taylor
The smartest city in America is finally getting the smartest high-rise building in the country—and with the posh concierge luxuries of a St. Regis hotel to boot.
If you’re pushing 40 years old (or older) you’ve been part of one of the greatest transformations in technology that America has ever experienced. I vividly remember the day that I sent my first email by cell phone from a laptop in 1994. It was three sentences long and took 12 minutes to upload through CompuServe. (Do they still exist?). It also wasn’t that long ago that presidential campaigns managed damage control by fax rather than Twitter.
The real estate industry has been perpetually slow to innovate technologically. A cutting-edge “smart” home in the 1980s had more than one telephone still anchored to the wall. You might have had early cable but you probably still needed to get up to change the channels. If your kitchen was “gourmet” you just got a microwave.
So while almost every other aspect of our lives is now wireless why do 99% of us still carry around a lump of brass keys all day to lock our front doors?
None of this mattered of course until someone offered an alternative. Older millennials and younger Gen Xers getting deeper into their 30s and 40s are no longer scraping by at their first start-up job and are now demanding the same high-tech, high-design experience from where they live as where they work. In tech hubs like San Francisco the digital expectations run even higher. Most west coast Millennials grew up on a wireless diet in every aspect of their lives. What this means for real estate developers in America’s revitalizing cities where innovation is clustering is that if you don’t evolve technologically you’ll go extinct—CompuServe comes to mind.
The developers of the Jasper in San Francisco (Crescent Heights) clearly read the Bay Area real estate bandwidth perfectly. Scheduled to be completed next month, the new 40-story Jasper tower rising in the revitalizing Rincon district at the base of the Bay Bridge will be one of the tallest all residential buildings in San Francisco. It’s also the smartest, most luxurious high-rise building to come along in America’s smartest city in decades.
After fifteen years breaking into the Bay Area development scene the business calculus driving the Jasper was simple: San Francisco’s entrenched local developers had become lazy. Compared with the rest of the country, residential monthly rents and condo sale prices in the Bay Area have outpaced every other real estate market in America without anyone needing to lift a finger except to sign the closing documents. So what’s the return on investment to innovate if you’re already minting money?
It’s called giving the Millennials, techies, and creative class types in the Bay Area what they want. So Crescent Heights’ managers and design developers smartly ran in the opposite direction. They spent years attending hospitality and technology conferences searching out every possible high-tech amenity and hotel-like luxury that could push the boundaries of the residential lifestyle experience.
Crescent Heights’ Roman Speron who led the development of the Jasper San Francisco equates it to the evolution of mobile banking, which is a good analogy since, like real estate, it’s about money. I don’t know anyone these days who gets a paper statement (the financial equivalent of carrying around a key chain) or goes inside a bank branch to actually interface with a teller. I also have private-equity friends who don’t think twice about wiring $1 million dollars to an investment account from their iPhone while they’re on a ski lift between powder runs in Alta, Utah.
“There was no way we could see building a technologically-driven, luxury high-rise like this in the tech epicenter of the country”, says Speron, “And not have our clients expect to have everything driven by an app. Chase and Bank Of America have had these for years. But ours had to be extraordinary or else no one would use it.”
Speron pauses for a moment and I can hear him smiling through the phone, “And it’s extraordinary.”
Crescent Heights didn’t become one of the largest developers in the country placing bad bets and they nailed their target demographic in San Francisco with bold vision. If you’re bringing down $150,000 a year as a Google engineer (and your husband’s making the same as a marketing VP at HP) what’s an extra $1000 per month in rent for the convenience of having your private concierge arrange to have your dog walked and car washed before you rinse the day off in the elevated indoor-outdoor pool?
Competing real estate developers in San Francisco as well as other emerging tech hubs like San Diego, Dallas, and Detroit should be prepared to step up their game to Crescent Heights’ level. When you have a waiting list of over a thousand people for just 320-units before construction is even substantially underway you know you’re onto something good. Here are five game-changers at the Jasper that are resetting the standard for high-tech, high-design real estate:
A Full-Time Dedicated Concierge Team: The 7:1 staff-to-resident ratio at the Jasper is more like a luxury hotel, and the concierge team (yes team) is intended to have an old school feel to it when you need theater reservations on short notice or want schedule an in-room spa treatment for an out of town guest. It’s also completely tech-driven with intelligent mobile technology that preemptively alerts the concierge upon your entry and exit, and pushes notifications to remind you that your dry cleaning is ready for the building’s next private party.
Five-Star Hotel Amenities: Whoever first introduced luxury hotel expectations into the high-rise apartment rental lifestyle was a genius. It’s just so obvious when you think about it. The Jasper’s private-club experience includes exclusive resident events, an on-site movie screening theater, an indoor/outdoor pool with a hot tub and saunas, an Olympic-quality fitness center, in-room spa treatments, valet parking, and a private club lounge
Boardrooms And Business Centers: My wife and I haven’t had an office in six years (my current one is the kitchen counter), which generally isn’t an issue since wherever our laptops go our businesses go. Everyone once in a while however it’s nice to feel professional and to hold a proper meeting with proper people around a conference table. The Jasper outfits its residents with all of the trappings of a legitimate high-functioning office environment including boardrooms and business centers. And yes they even have a fax machine
Total Connectivity: The Jasper is fully wired for entertainment, social connectivity, and digital lifestyle amenities including warp speed internet (the fastest in San Francisco) piped into every apartment, digital antenna strategically placed throughout the building for optimized cell coverage (including the elevators), free Wi-Fi and USB charging stations throughout the common areas, and interactive touchscreen technology for valet, deliveries and other building information
Knock Your Socks Off Architecture: You can stuff a cramped, dark apartment full of energy-efficient heat pumps, smart-app technology, and stainless steel appliances but it’s still a cramped, stuffy apartment. The Jasper’s apartments test-drive like $2500 night hotel suites with floor to ceiling glass walls and balconies overlooking the San Francisco skyline, deep soaking tubs, and Euro-styled gourmet kitchens. Public visual art installations in the common lounge spaces that sense kinetic motion and constantly respond to what’s going on around them are a nice touch as well.
One-bedroom apartments at the Jasper run around $5,000 per month. A three bedroom apartment on the upper floors will set you back closer to $8000 a month. In terms of what you get for your money, we wouldn’t live anywhere else.