Equity Residential unveiled the latest gadget today in its "flagship" apartment building, a recharging station for electric cars, a move it hopes will have instantaneous appeal to apartment dwellers and, someday, practical application for commuters.
Equity demonstrated the new charging station at 425 Mass, which opened last year as Equity's highest priced apartment building in the DC Metro area, and has already generated its own positive charge after buying out defunct Broadway Development and leasing 40 of the 557 units per month on average, making it now 68% leased. But that doesn't photograph as well as a new Tesla, and promoters had one on hand to demonstrate how an electric vehicle owner could plug in, swipe their credit card and, for $1 - $3 per night, recharge sufficiently for most DC area commutes. Equity touted the feature as one of its "environmentally conscious" design features, and will soon offer Zipcar as another green alternative. The message: live in style here, drive in style nearby, and save money, time and the environment.
The $109,000, fully electric Tesla Roadster can charge in 3.5 hours at the high voltage outlet now at 425 Mass, or in half a day (1 hr per 5 miles) at a typical 110v outlet (adapter included). The plug-in station is currently available only to building residents, but several other charging stations such as at the Capitol Hill Hyatt offer public stations, and sites like MyChargePoint.net offer apps to find the nearest station. The Roadster - "the smoothest acceleration on the planet" - says a corporate rep, needs no oil, gas, and almost no servicing, but don't expect to see a garage-full soon. Only 2 of the building's 560 spaces are sequestered for it's lone charging station, and even promoters know to take a distant view of the technology. "The cars just aren't there yet" says Andy Kinard of CarCharging, which installs the stations for free and gives Equity a kickback on sales of electricity at the plug.
CarCharging and Equity plan a slow roll-out together, with stations to open in Boston and Seattle as "testbeds" to gauge and prime the market. Kinard sees the future of voltage-powered autos in "smart" technology in multi-family buildings and public garages, where the plug feeds usage data to the power source and shows its location to the public. But this is the company's first DC locale and it has no immediate plans for a second. Equity, the largest owner-operator of apartments in the country with 133,000 units, is well-placed to guide the technology but is not rushing headlong into the market, though it can quickly add more plug-in stations if needed.
Equity also owns 2400 M and 1210 Mass, and is "increasingly focused on urban core, mixed-use" property, says Area VP Robert Grealy. Equity entered the DC market in 1995 with a portfolio purchase of the Artery Group's apartment buildings, garden-style apartments it has been shedding in favor of "higher quality" residences since 2005.
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