Real Estate News

Tacoma's renters want to do laundry and park their cars. That may be too much to ask

Take a tour of the new Stadium Apartments building

The new Stadium Apartments in Tacoma's historic Stadium District offers a variety of popular amenities to attract renters.
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The new Stadium Apartments in Tacoma's historic Stadium District offers a variety of popular amenities to attract renters.

Renters are looking for two things at their apartment buildings in Tacoma — a washer and dryer in their unit and dedicated parking.

But despite the demand, relatively few apartments offer the amenities, according to a report by the online rental listing website ApartmentList.com.

About two-thirds of renters searching the website said they wanted in-unit laundry and on-site parking. But only a quarter of all units posted list in-unit laundry as an amenity, and only one in three apartments have dedicated parking.

What many Tacoma apartment buildings do offer — though few renters are seeking them — are cat- or dog-friendly units.

Two-thirds of the apartments listed in the city Tacoma include that feature, even though only 17 percent of renters are looking for cat-friendly apartments and 26 percent are seeking dog-friendly units.

ApartmentList says that's because it doesn't cost developers anything to build a pet-friendly apartment, but adding features that use space, such as washers and dryers or structured parking, do.

Many of the new apartment buildings that offer in-unit laundry and sometimes parking charge premium rents. For example, the $32 million Proctor Station, which opened two years ago, includes not only spacious bathrooms but also a stacked washer-dryer in each unit.

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Nationally, in-unit laundry was the most popular requested amenity, with 53 percent of renters requesting it, according to ApartmentList.

In Tacoma, the data show, even more renters — two-thirds — seek a washer and dryer, yet only a quarter of listed units offer it. Nationwide, the figure is even lower, with 13 percent of listed properties having in-unit laundries.

Parking has become a hot topic locally. In some areas of Tacoma, chiefly downtown and in historic structures, developers are not required to provide parking for residents.

Koz Development will complete its 104-unit apartment building near University of Washington Tacoma this fall. The structure at South 17th and Market streets will have so-called "micro units" — dwellings as small as 250 square feet — but it won't have parking.

Koz president and CEO Cathy Reines said her buildings cater to the no-frills set. There's very little parking and communal laundry rooms for each building.

When it comes to washing clothes, Reines said, technology helps take some of the aggravation out of it.

"You download an app on your phone and on that app you can see whether the washers or dryers are available," she said. "You can see whether your washer or dryer has stopped. It can send a text message alerting you."

Koz also is behind a Dome District project with 152 apartments and no parking, though it will have bike lockers. Reines said the company closed on the property last week. Demolition of an existing building could begin as early as next week.

Then, on the Hilltop, Koz is looking at 152 units with 30 parking spots along Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Residents will be able to use e-bikes, Reines has said.

Each parking space added to a building can cost thousands of dollars, around $10,000 to $20,000 per space according to various sources.

On average Reines expects the Market Street units, which range from 250 to 400 square feet, will cost on average $900 per month.

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"They're moving in for price point and location," she said of her developments' residents. "We don't have theater rooms and we don't have wine bars and some of the amenities you are seeing with some of the higher-end apartment buildings."

At the other end of the spectrum are happy hours, pet parks, parking and in-unit laundry, like those offered by Carino and Associates at Stadium Apartments.

Residents started moving in there on June 15. Stadium Apartments has occasional happy hours with free beer, wine and food. The idea is to cement budding friendships among residents, who then will be more likely to renew leases, said developer and co-owner Scott Carino.

As for parking, the 174-unit building at 102 N. G St. has more than 200 spots, which lease for $85 a month. A one-bedroom apartment with a view can cost $1,800 per month.

"We are continually reinventing what our renters want and need," Carino said.

Stadium Apartments includes storage for the huge number of packages residents order online, as well as a walk-in cooler for fresh food deliveries. Residents can pick up parcels 24 hours a day from secure lockers.

"It's crazy, the amount of packages," Carino said. "In a 180-unit building we will average 50 packages a day."

As for what his tenants want, Carino disagrees with ApartmentList in at least one respect.

"Being a pet-friendly building, that's a big one," he said.

Toward that end, Stadium Apartments has a pet park on the first floor and a dog wash station.

And it doesn't hurt that the building is steps away from Wright Park, the 27-acre arboretum with more than 600 trees, a large pond, bocce ball green and a conservatory on the national historic register.

How about one last big imbalance between renters' wants and its availability?

That would be air conditioning. About 27 percent of renters in Tacoma say they want it but only 3 percent of units on the website offered it.

Kate Martin: kmartin@thenewstribune.com, 253-597-8542
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