Move-in day is about a month and a half away for some of downtown Wheaton's newest residents, and excitement is beginning to build.
Morningside Group developers Thursday hosted an open house for Wheaton city and chamber of commerce officials at the site of the future Wheaton 121 luxury apartment development at the intersection of Cross and Front streets.
On display were the development's private movie theater, upscale party room, and one- and two-bedroom models. The same models will be open to the public beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The first tenants begin moving in Sept. 1 with new move-in phases beginning the first of each month. When complete in the spring of 2014, the entire Wheaton 121 development will consist of five levels of apartment homes and a two-level indoor parking garage with more than 400 spaces.
Floor plans will include five studios; 212 one-bedroom, one-bath homes; 66 two-bedroom, one-bath homes; 19 two-bedroom, two-bath homes; and four three-bedroom, two-bath homes.
Property and leasing manager Angela Martel said despite not being open to the public, approximately 20 percent of the 306 units ranging in monthly rents from $1,260 to $3,700 are leased to tenants.
All apartment homes will feature nine-foot ceilings, granite countertops in kitchens and baths, stainless steel appliances, wood floors, ceramic tile in the baths, balconies, individually controlled gas forced-air furnaces and central air-conditioning, and in-unit washers and dryers. The luxury amenities include a second-level courtyard with an in-ground swimming pool, barbecue stations, outdoor kitchen, fire pit, lounge areas, a dog run, bocce court and a sculptural fountain.
"Some of our future tenants know the quality of Morningside and want to be here. Others are just excited to have the option to rent a high-quality space in the heart of downtown Wheaton," Martel said.
David Strosberg, president of Morningside said the "walk-to amenities," including the Metra station, library, Adams Park, local shops and restaurants, made the once-foreclosed property a "must-have" for his group.
"Our specialty over 20 years in the business is suburban downtowns, so it was natural for us to look at Wheaton as a great opportunity to develop housing," he said. "It's a unique town with the train station right here and Wheaton College right there. It's an all-American town. It's a very vibrant area."
Wheaton Chamber of Commerce member Mary Gammel said she and other chamber members are excited for the "shot in the arm" they believe an infusion of 300 new families is expected to give.
Strosberg thinks the fact that the development is "the first multifamily rental development in over 20 years" in the area will just add to that feel.
"We think there are two primary demographic groups: young professionals and empty-nesters," Strosberg said. "The same people we were sending condos to five years ago, before the crash, are now renters by choice. They have the resources to buy the condos but want to now leave the hassles of ownership to other people."
Mayor Michael Gresk also toured the models Thursday and said the city is "very impressed" with the progress made at the site since last July's groundbreaking.
"I like that they have taken a piece of land that was basically a foreclosure and put up a $60 million building that is going to bring 300 families to downtown Wheaton. It can only be good all the way around, from the use of the land to the new families," Gresk said. "It's the type of development any city would want, even if they're not saying it publicly. It's a very upbeat thing for Wheaton."