My Verdict on the Avenue as a Comp

I was on a mission this weekend to educate myself on a few things in order to be prepared for Thursday’s unveiling at the Vue, and once again Dennis Marsoun of Center City Realty was nice enough to take me around. I told him I wanted to see the Avenue to resolve once and for all whether it was a comp for the Vue [guess what, in my mind, this will never be resolved once and for all…it is in the eyes of the beholder]. We also saw the Metropolitan, Fifth and Poplar, and I went myself to the Madison. The purpose of the visits, especially to the Metro and the Madison, was less to compare prices but more to see their reputed high-quality finishes so that when I see the Vue I have a basis of comparison and my expectations set.

The only thing I had to offer Dennis in return was a sandwich at Molly MacPherson’s  Scottish pub, and what I thought would be a few beers so we could once again have an uninhibited exchange of views on the future prospects of Uptown Real Estate. It appears Dennis did not want to have us vulnerable to the critics who suggested we may drink too much.  When we sat at the bar and I began scanning the draft beer list, out of my left ear I heard his request for lemonade, and I knew right then and there this wasn’t going to go quite the way I had anticipated! (they didn’t have any lemonade, so we both settled on Coke)

Intoxicated or not,  I once again learned a tremendous amount. As to the main topic of this post, which is whether or not the Avenue is a good comp, I will answer it this way. First, there is a tremendous amount of subjectivity and individual taste that goes into comparing Uptown real estate, and different buildings have different reasons for attracting different buyers. So my opinion on whether the Avenue is a comp for the Vue should be taken with a grain of salt and is my personal view only. You can’t “take it to the bank.” The “Avenue Aficionados” who so vehemently believe in their building and what it has to offer versus the Vue are probably 100% correct, for them! But for me, I pray that it isn’t. If the Vue is of the caliber that I saw at the Avenue, I will be very disappointed. I don’t want to see the circuit breaker in my entryway; I don’t want to see concrete ceilings (unfinished or painted black teeming with air pockets); I don’t want to see cabinets from Home Depot…I need to stop because I don’t mean to disparage. I have taste that goes well beyond my means. I am a HomeArama type. I want to see high-end. I want to see Viking/Thermador/Bosch/Dacor/Wolf…I want to see high-grades in everything..if granite…high-grade granite; if marble..high grade marble…carpeting..high-grade carpeting. In other words, I want luxury. I am paying top-dollar at the Vue and I expect them to deliver what I am paying for and what I was promised. Luxury is what they sold to me in mid-2000. [I realize there are a range of price-points at the Vue and not all are “Premium” units. And I am not saying necessarily that I have a premium unit, just like I don’t have a Homearama house. But the overall “feel” I want to have is the feel that I am in a luxurious building with luxurious units.]

I am sure there are probably some units that have been customized at the Avenue that I didn’t see that may approach my expectations.  This one, Avenue 2502, which I did not see, looks spectacular on video. But the units I saw did not. Having said this, the amenities were very impressive. The lobby is a huge leap above the Vue and definitely gives the feel of luxury that unfortunately was not supported by the units I saw. The problem also is I don’t live in the Lobby. I live in my unit, and I don’t want to stare at a concrete ceiling.

There will be much to share this week, so please stay tuned. But Dennis, my message to you and my assurance to the readers of this blog is that I think we did just as well with Cabernet as we did with Coke, so it is my intention to go back to living like the folks in the movie Sideways. I can’t make Wednesday at the Dunhill (Dennis can and will, so go see him if you want to!), but let’s all of us be sure to sip some more wine at the Vue Unveiling on Thursday. Red wine is good for your heart, and these days, our hearts need all the help they can get!

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One Response to My Verdict on the Avenue as a Comp

  1. Ken says:

    I live at Avenue and have to pretty much agree with most of what you have said. Our larger lobby with waterfall wall is definitely better. I believe our fully landscaped pool deck is better. It offers full sun compared to the VUE’s deck which will be blocked by the building itself for the majority of the day. From what I have heard from an insider, the gym at VUE is larger in square footage than Avenue’s but has about the same amount of machines. Same amount of machines yet the VUE has a lot more units. Somehow I can’t help but think you may run into issues with that. I haven’t heard about the clubroom at the VUE so I cannot comment, but I am sure it will be nice. It had better be, right ?

    I’ve seen the VUE’s units in Orlando first hand. They are very similar to the VUE in Charlotte. The only ones I would even consider purchasing for the prices they are asking here in Charlotte would be the 2 bed units or the 1 bed 2 story corner units. The rest of the interior 1 bed units have a jail cell feel as they offer very few windows and are long and narrow. The deck amenities at the VUE Orlando are very similar to Charlotte and they are not that impressive. Imagine a parking lot with some chairs, a pool and about 8 potted trees for landscaping (lots of cement here). The tennis court is nice for sure. But try getting court time when you have 51 floors of units with the same thing in mind. I may be wrong, but I see that as being problematic.

    The finishes:
    Novare definitely slacked off when they finished the interior hallways and units at Avenue. At the very least all cement columns and ceilings should have been smoothed. I have been inside some units that are just horrible. But I have also been in some that have been smoothed and painted either white or black and they look very nice and finished. From some photos I’ve seen of the VUE your cabinets will be much nicer than at Avenue as will your appliances. But beyond that I didn’t notice anything better. To me, these are simple and pretty affordable options one at Avenue could do that would upgrade their unit to the VUE standards. We are after all talking about smaller condos and the cost to redo cabinets is much less than a large sized home. Smoothing of columns and ceilings can be done for a few grand. Our stainless appliances at Avenue are fine for me but if you wanted to upgrade then you could to exactly the ones you wanted.

    The bottom line for me:
    Avenue is a different price point than the VUE. The main reason it seems is because of the finer quality finishes inside of the units at the VUE. For me personally I would rather buy a nice corner 2 bed unit at Avenue for $150,000 to $200,000 less and fully customize it myself. This way I’ve got a better pool deck, better lobby, better location, 24/7 concierge and my interior unit is 100% customized to my personal tastes. All this could be done for a lot less than the $150,000 to $200,000 prices difference.

    That’s just my take for what it’s worth. Personally, I hope everyone at the VUE closes, loves their new home and the rest of the building sells out within 16 months at the current asking prices. It would only bring our units at Avenue up and along for the ride. I wish everyone at the VUE the best of luck. Hopefully in the near future you will be able to get a good nights sleep knowing you made the decision that was right for you.

    Here’s unit 1801 at Avenue for another reference:

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