Image Management and Project Sellout
Greenbridge Condominiums features 97 uniquely designed luxury one-, two- and three-bedroom residences luxury condos located in the heart of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. An energy-efficient mixed-use development, Greenbridge offers three green rooftops, solar and thermal heated water, LED recessed lighting and high performance recycled glass floor to ceiling windows. Additional amenities include the sky lounge, media center and concierge and parking. Retail and commercial businesses on the ground floor round out the development, which includes a seven- and 10-story tower providing views for miles across the city and surrounding countryside.
When Greenbridge’s new owners contacted MMI for assistance in 2013, they wanted to relaunch the sales push and achieve full occupancy following years of slow transactions and bad publicity. Greenbridge was considered to be one of America’s pioneering green condominium projects, having been designed by William McDonough, a leading green architect. Following the recession in 2008, the original owners of Greenbridge incurred bank loan problems, which led to an eventual foreclosure in 2012 after two years of sales totaling 36 units. Complaints about its costs and height being out of character in its location near a historically African-American neighborhood further tarnished its image in the community.
Amid many negative news stories, MMI obtained the responsibility to provide sales support, image management and reputation rehabilitation, with the main goal being to sell out the remaining 61 units over approximately the next year.
PHASE 1 DISCOVERY
MMI began work in the summer of 2013 exploring the pain points Greenbridge faced with its brand and messaging. Following background research and conversations with the new owners, MMI agreed that promoting Greenbridge as a pioneering green condominium development in the Triangle would be a top priority in its work in restoring project’s image. Other objectives included reaching Greenbridge’s target market (Gen Xers and Ys in their twenties to early forties, baby boomers, investors/second home buyers and empty nesters); pitching, writing and distributing human interest stories, arrival of new retail tenants and news of sales successes and milestones; assisting with broker/agent relations for the condominiums; and utilizing social media effectively so that the local news and personality of the community remains fresh with fans and followers.
To reach these objectives, MMI recommended multiple communication channels to leverage to effectively develop and deliver positive messaging that would counteract previous negative news about Greenbridge.
PHASE 2 STRATEGY & PLANNING
Among the many tactics MMI employed initially was a steady distribution of news releases highlighting positive aspects of the condos coupled with media outreach to start the conversation that Greenbridge is open for business and is a great urban living space in Chapel Hill. Angles pitched to reporters included Greenbridge as an excellent example of urban living; its unique interior design features; and its status as a viable housing option for students attending area universities, with specific outreach to The Daily Tar Heel (the UNC student newspaper) and alumni publications for area colleges and universities for the latter.
MMI coordinated multiple social gatherings at Greenbridge’s Sky Lounge so that community organizations and university groups as well as brokers and real estate agents could host networking and planning events. This came after MMI worked with Greenbridge to host a grand opening introducing its new Live Here Lounge and invited area professionals, real estate brokers and other potential residents to attend. The goals of this event and others were to further illustrate the organization’s involvement in the wider community and to serve as an effective sales support tool in keeping Greenbridge top of mind for its target market.
To further enhance the reputation of Greenbridge, MMI commissioned a series of video testimonials by residents explaining the reasons why they love living at the development. These videos allowed an unfiltered perspective of what makes the condominiums appealing and negated the unappealing impression left previously during the project’s initial years of sales. It left viewers with the message that Greenbridge is not just a building with condos – it is a lifestyle.
Another integral element in MMI’s strategy included award nominations. MMI pursued honors that provided the development with credibility and aided in turning the conversation about Greenbridge to concentrate on the quality of its living spaces. We secured several awards, including a win of one of its residences in the category for homes in the $315,000 to $341,000 price range to the 2013 Parade of Homes for Durham, Orange and Chatham Counties. Additionally, Greenbridge received a US Green Building Council, North Carolina (USGBCNC) 2013 Green Gala Sustainable Business Award for residential buildings, a win that underlined its commitment toward being an environmentally friendly development. Positive discussion about these awards encouraged potential condo buyers to consider Greenbridge as a serious option.
PHASE 3 PRODUCTION & DELIVERY
Before the end of October 2013 – less than six months after engaging MMI for assistance – Greenbridge’s sales efforts gained significant traction, with 65 of 97 total homes sold. Progress continued on selling the remaining 32 homes, and by May 2014, Greenbridge surpassed the 80 percent sales milestone. Residential space at that point was 82 percent sold, up from 64 percent in September 2013. Seven residences closed in April 2014 alone, totaling more than $2.7 million in sales.
By the fall of 2014, within a span of a little over a year of initial engagement on the project, MMI had helped Greenbridge become an attractive residential designation and achieved full sellout. The development that was once assessed as “a controversial plot of land” by one media outlet had transformed itself into a vibrant addition to the Triangle area and become a part of the fabric of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro and UNC community.