A primer for the "high life"
The Denver Post: September 19-25, 2008
By Terri Hayes
Many people in Denver are learning about high-rise living for the first time. With many multistory condominium buildings completed or being built throughout the city, their residents soon will be introduced to a lifestyle, amenities, services and dues they may not have experienced before.
Following are some of the key things a person should know about as they prepare for their new lifestyle in a luxury condo building:
Homeowners’ association - Commonly referred to as an HOA, the homeowners’ association is an association of all of the owners of a condominium. Each owner is automatically a member as a consequence of ownership and is bound to its rules and regulations.
These rules and their governance are detailed in the Declaration of Condominium. Typically, an HOA elects a board of directors (selected from its membership) to govern the HOA and enforce its rules.
The board of directors has many responsibilities, some of which include the management of the staff and the property (including common areas, amenities, business centers, pools, etc). The HOA also fields complaints from the residents and addresses them accordingly, and determines how money should be spent on repair, maintenance or building upgrades.
The HOA’s main purpose is to serve fellow residents and ensure that a building maintains its value and upkeep.
HOA dues – Residents of condo buildings are required to pay HOA dues. These dues usually range from $3 to $12 per square foot based on the amount of amenities and staff required to provide the different level of services to the residents. HOA dues pay for all of the building’s utilities, garbage service, insurance, maintenance and repair, building staff and cable, among other things.
Many people appreciate the fact that their HOA dues are often less expensive that the budget they may have dedicated to the upkeep of their single-family home. Likewise, they like the fact that they don’t have to worry about managing the process of repairs themselves.
Building staff – Whether it’s a doorperson, maintenance person, concierge, property manager or valet, many of Denver’s new condo buildings are providing an extensive staff of professionals to their residents. In some condominiums, the staff is available to cater to various needs, including everything from hailing a cab, handling deliveries and greeting guests, to repairing an outlet or leaking faucet.
The expense is all part of HOA fees, and is a carefree amenity shared by all residents.
Amenities – Some people pay thousands of dollars for a pool, home theater, wine room, fitness center and numerous other lifestyle luxuries and amenities for their own home. At a select few of Denver’s new high-rise condo buildings, these things are all part of the package.
Residents can host their own parties in party rooms; luxuriate by the pool on extra-large pool decks complete with fire pits, hot tubs and grills; exercise in fully equipped fitness centers; sample fine wines from their own wine cellar; see the latest movies in a high-definition theater, or handle aspects of their business at an onsite business center.
In many respects, living in a new high-rise building is like being part of a private club, with amenities and services that may otherwise be unobtainable.
Spaces – Outdoor space and parking space are two things that potential condo buyers think about. Giving up a garden or lawn is a key concern, as is the availability of parking for their cars and those of visitors.
The balconies on many new condo buildings are designed to address a person’s desire for outdoor space, and while they can’t possibly match a large backyard, they do provide plenty of space for potted plants and barbecue grills.
Likewise, there are buildings that have tremendous locations next to some of Denver’s largest parks. Parking spaces are also a key concern, and most new buildings appropriate enough parking for one or two cars per residence, and for visitor in the building garage and along surrounding public streets.
Sense of community – Living in a high-rise condo building instantly establishes a sense of community for residences. Everyone is invested in the building as their home, and for that reason, there’s a great deal of pride and friendship that emanates.
Whether the residents are hosting a building event, or a private party of their own, they want to show off their building and all the things that make it so special.
There’s also a friendly spirit that exists throughout new buildings that makes it nearly impossible for anyone to feel isolated or uninvited. The sense of community that exists makes any condo building feel like a new neighborhood.