When Zhi Li moved into the Silver Spring apartment building Solaire in July, its 295 units were brand-new, and only about half of them were rented. With so few other tenants around, he had free rein to enjoy the complex’s amenities whenever he liked.
The swanky 11-seat theater “was like an extension of [my] living room,” says Li, 30, a Web developer.
The Solaire has filled up since, and Li finds himself watching movies there less often: “Once there are more people, you feel more like staying in your apartment.”
If you’re the kind of renter who likes the gym to yourself (at least temporarily), then you could be in luck. A near-record number of new apartment units opened in and around the District last year, and even more are slated for 2013.
Before signing a shiny new lease on a shiny new apartment, however, understand the perks and problems that can accompany a brand-new pad.
One potential benefit: You can find good deals if you’re willing to move into a newly opened building. Trilogy NoMa offers incentives on certain weekends including
$500 Visa gift cards, discounted rental rates and free parking for six months — all to get renters in the door quickly.
“We’re trying to fill the building as fast as we can,” says Jennifer Lamb, the community manager at Trilogy (151 Q St. NE; 202-526-4464). The three-building property (hence the name) is opening in three phases — one building opened last September, one opened in January, and the last one will open in March.
Financial perks are common in new complexes. Some shrewd renters even bounce from new property to new property every year to take advantage of them, Lamb says.
Early renters can choose from a wide range of floor plans, says Tod Tanis, assistant property manager of Solaire (1150 Ripley St., Silver Spring; 301-859-3965).
Not all floors may be open early on, however. “We received our Certificates of Occupancy on a rolling basis,” Tanis says, “which meant that certain floors became available at a certain time.”
If you’re picky about layout, ask if there will be additional floor plans available as more of the building opens.
If construction will still be going on after you move in, ask about the noise level. How big a problem it is depends on the type of construction (and your noise tolerance).
Trilogy allayed noise concerns by completing all outdoor construction before any of the buildings opened. “I haven’t had a single complaint about [construction noise],” Lamb says.
When residents first moved into Flats 130 at Constitution Square (130 M St. NE; 202-682-2787, 866-300-2916), only the second through fifth of its 13 floors were open. Noise was not a problem, says property manager Pei Pei Chan, because the work being done on the upper floors, such as hanging pictures and moving in gym equipment, wasn’t very noisy.
If you’re planning to sign a lease while a building is under construction, delays might be an issue. Your move-in date could be pushed back by weeks. Be sure your building’s managers are accounting for this.
“Construction has been really on time, but I padded about a week and a half just in case,” Lamb says.
In addition to watching a building grow, renters sometimes have the pleasure of seeing a neighborhood grow. Anna Henderson, 24, moved into Flats 130 just two months after it opened in 2010.
She had the run of the place at first. Little by little, settlers joined her on the NoMa frontier. Restaurants are extending their hours, food trucks have rolled in, and a Starbucks has finally opened.
“We’re moving up in the world,” Henderson says.