New apartment rental system aimed at Seattle’s tech workers breaks all the rules

Written by MLHA Team

August 2, 2021

Sentral’s rooftop fire pit in First Hill.

The tech industry has changed the face of American cities like Seattle, and it’s doing so again with a new housing concept that basically breaks all the rules we’ve come to associate with leasing an apartment.

Aimed mainly at tech workers, nomadic independent contractors and other folks whose work is no longer tied to a specific location, the Sentral model leases its units through two programs. First, the LIVE program, which leases units — which can come furnished or unfurnished — for one month or more in “amenity-rich buildings.”

Such amenities might include workspaces offering private and collaborative office space. Inside the units themselves, residents might find work-from-home perks like adjustable height desks and ergonomic chairs. And let’s not forget that work-life balance: Sentral buildings offer rooftop pools, outdoor kitchens and fire pits, gyms, photo booths, theaters, and more — as well as offering a plethora of curated events to its residents.

Sentral’s rooftop dock in South Lake Union.

Within the LIVE program, another program ends one of the more quarrelsome tenets of leasing: Qualifying LIVE residents can also participate in a “managed homeshare program” — coined HOME+ — which allows them to sublet their homes while traveling. This concept capitalizes on the long-term renters’ occasional desire to sublet, a desire that formerly might have resulted in eviction. Now, subletting is encouraged.  However, due to Seattle’s short-term rental ordinance, this aspect of Sentral living is not currently available in Seattle.

Short-term renters can take advantage of the second program, Sentral’s STAY program. Here, bookings from one night to up to 29 days give people temporary refuge in fully furnished apartments, and access to the suite of amenities the building offers all folks staying within its walls.  
                                                      
The folks behind the idea are savvy: CEO Jon Slavet is formerly of WeWork and Rodan + Fields. Michael Curtis, formerly VP of Engineering at Airbnb is now a strategy advisor at Sentral.

“Living a flexible lifestyle is becoming much more common and the rise in working from home over this past year has accelerated that trend. It’s becoming the preferred way to live for people from all walks of life who aren’t tethered to a single location for work,” Curtis said.

Recreation room at Sentral in South Lake Union.

Sentral’s Seattle locations are both up and running, Sentral SLU and  Sentral First Hill

The price to lease at Sentral, given the amenities, isn’t much higher than regular rent prices in the major cities it serves.  The LIVE program offers designer-furnished homes for stays over 30 days starting at $2,500 a month. For comparison purposes, a studio in downtown Seattle listed on Craigslist (with none of the bling offered at Sentral) is asking $1,890 a month.

Sentral operates now in seven cities: LA, Austin, Chicago, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Miami. An Atlanta location is next up, with more growth planned.

Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert. 

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