New Construction Review: Altaire by Regis Homes, Palo Alto

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Altaire, the newest townhouse development in Palo Alto, should be on anybody's shortlist when looking for an entry-level opportunity to move into the area without forgoing quality accommodations. We'll cover some important details you should know about the property in this post.

Overview

The 103 urban-looking townhouses are set along open walkways and adjoined to the recently constructed Taube-Koret Campus for Jewish Life, which, together, create a feeling that is unique from traditional high-density developments. The whole complex site is right off the 101 freeway at 3901 Fabian Way.

Construction on Altaire is expected to be completed by late 2010. As of June, 59 of the 61 townhouses already completed have sold, and developers are currently in the last phase of construction for the remaining 42 homes, which are expected to be sold out by the end of the year.

For a quick description of Altaire, floor plans and features visit their website. You can also take a YouTube tour of the residences and view example show homes on their flickr page.

Also of note, when considering a property, especially a new build, representation from a real estate agent can help provide the buyer with a larger knowledge base in areas like negotiating a final sales price or showing comparable properties in the area. The second half of an older post I did goes over these considerations.

Details and Pricing

Image shows the entire layout of Altaire residences in yellow on the left, and the rest of the campus and fitness center on the right. (Click image to enlarge.)

Available properties include one, two, three and four bedrooms; and prices start at $479,000, high-$600,000s, $739,000 and high-$800,000s, respectively. The typical three bedroom unit is around 1,300 square feet, while a four bedroom is around 1,900 square feet.

Homeowner's association fees are from $375 to $475 a month and include: water, disposal, landscaping, insurance, two underground parking spaces and storage, and maintenance.

Also included in the purchase price is a free year membership to the JCC fitness center — a 33,560-square- foot space that includes an indoor and outdoor pool, basketball court and gym, and an expected membership of 10,000. The campus also has a preschool, senior living residences, and cultural arts center.

Highlights

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Altaire is an upscale townhouse community. New owners can expect spacious and contemporary designs, stainless steel Bosch appliances, in-home laundry, high-efficiency air and cooling, secure underground parking, and high-speed Internet connections. The townhouses were designed to meet both ENERGY STAR and GreenPoint Rated programs for energy efficiency and eco-friendliness.

Being located in Palo Alto means residents can expect some of the best schools (Fairmeadow Elementary, Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School and Gunn High School) in California, a bustling downtown, Stanford University and Shopping Center, and a strong local government. Altaire is ideally located near the Baylands PreserveShoreline Amphitheatre, Century 16 Theatres, and retail developments Charleston Plaza and Rengstorff Center, which includes Costco, Best Buy, and REI.

Strong home values will continue in Palo Alto as we have seen in the 2010 quarterly post on the real estate market.

The adjoined Community Center creates a convenient neighborhood environment. Just outside the door is the previously mentioned fitness center that also has a soccer field, tennis courts, and Pilates and yoga studios. There is also a cultural arts center, cafe, preschool and day care, meeting rooms with planned adult programs and lectures, and senior living residences.

Concerns

Area originally zoned for commercial buildings. Altaire and the community center was built atop the old Hewlett Packard site, which means that the surrounding scenery is mostly corporations like Space Systems/Loral on Fabian Way and the 101 freeway nearby.

Being at the edge of Palo Alto means a longer drive to downtown, schools or other popular spots in the city. Conversely, though, it is located near two big shopping centers, the movie theater and concert venue, and Baylands Preserve.

Expect more traffic and noise from the busy intersection at San Antonio Road and East Charleston Road, and also when the Community Center holds events -- an expected trade-off of living in a more urban environment. Buyers also get two underground parking spaces with storage, but not the convenience of an attached garage.

Competition:

Sterling Park is another new housing development on 1080 Loma Verde Ave., which is a mile north of Altaire and separated from the 101 Freeway by West Bayshore Road.

The development has sold out of single-family homes, but the remaining townhouses are priced and have a contemporary style similar to Altaire, though different floor plans and amenities available. Sterling Park has attached garages and is adjacent to a residential neighborhood and near Greer Park, but on the other hand, there are commercial buildings on two of its sides. Lastly, most of the remaining townhouses available sit on West Bayshore Road.

Takeaway

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As with any home purchase, there are positives and negatives that the buyer must personally weigh in their final decision.

Palo Alto's strong real estate market and outstanding school district and API scores is a draw for many buyers, and combined with today's depreciated market increases the attraction. Additionally, Altaire makes the most of its location, offers premium townhouses and a Community Center that other developments cannot match. For these reasons, first-time buyers and anybody interested in a new build should take the time to consider if Altaire is the right place to settle down.