The problem with building multifamily is that the project simply doesn't show well under construction. Driving sales traffic to the jobsite and sitting prospects in a trailer is hardly an effective approach, and waiting until the project is completed to open models is far too late to meet the sales pro forma.

To promote a trio of mid-rise condo projects slated for a redevelopment district in downtown San Diego, developer Western Pacific Housing of Carlsbad, Calif., opened a street-level sales gallery in the city's Gaslamp Quarter. With an art gallery feel and finish, as well as opportunities for retail-esque window displays to entice passers-by, the builder's Studio 528 sales center effectively captures the target market of urban buyers for presales, while the projects make their way through approvals and construction a few blocks away.

The most intriguing feature of Studio 528 is a rear-projection, flat-screen monitor in the storefront window that runs a three-minute looped video about the projects, drawing the Gaslamp Quarter's nightlife participants to the studio after hours.

The video is shown inside on another flat-screen monitor, while stylish workstations offer three-dimensional virtual reality (VR) tours of the buildings and fully finished floor plans available. "The VRs incorporate the true specifications and details inside and out," including paint colors, landscaping, and window sizes, says Gail Nakamura, director of marketing for Western Pacific Housing. "When you're selling off site, they need to be very similar to the actual project."

The studio allows Western Pacific Housing to alter displays depending on the projects under construction at any given time. For instance, the builder recently sold out its first mid-rise project and has since transferred the primary focus of Studio 528--including the centerpiece scale model--to its next venture, Park Boulevard West.

Putting its sales center in a vibrant retail section helped the developer attract the attention of its target buyers.
Courtesy Western Pacific Housing Putting its sales center in a vibrant retail section helped the developer attract the attention of its target buyers.

Campaign Details
Program: Sales office; Developer: Western Pacific Housing, Carlsbad, Calif.; Size: 1,667 square feet; Cost: $89 per square foot; Architect: Catalina Design Group, Irvine, Calif.; Advertising agency: The Weston Group, Los Angeles; VR tours: Focus 360, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Diego, CA.