Whether it's an apartment building in California or a condo complex in Florida, there's no such thing as truly free electricity. This rule applies especially to recharging plug-in vehicles, and it will become more and more of an issue as an increasing number of city-dwellers purchase plug-ins.

With the prospect of battery-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle drivers using common-area parking-garage outlets to charge up, Florida's Naples News sounds an alarmist tone with this article bemoaning how everyone in a condo association will have to foot the bill for such electricity use, whether they drive a plug-in or not. The author says condo association declarations should be rewritten to factor in the "electric vehicle freeloaders." The idea - which we've dealt with before - is to get plug-in vehicle drivers to either pay for the installation of electric-use meters or faster chargers themselves or be billed a monthly surcharge for estimated juice use. And, if there's a plug-in car-b-cue, the owners should be held financially responsible for the damage.

But what if there's another way? The way that the developers of the new Elysian apartment building near downtown Los Angeles are addressing the "problem." Developer Linear City is installing 20 fast charging stations in its new 96-unit building. Rent for the apartments costs between $1,500 and $6,500 a month, with a parking spot adding $100 to $150 to the cost, whether there is a charger there or not. Len Hill, a partner in the Linear City project, said in a statement that, "By making parking optional to the lease, we're broadcasting to residents that it might not make sense to even own a car." There will also be a car-sharing service located on-site. Check out Linear City Development's press release below for the fine print.
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Now Open: First Apartment Building in Nation to Pay for Tenants' On-Site Electric Car Charging

Linear City, Downtown Los Angeles Developer, Has Installed 20 EV Charge Stations in Historic Office Tower; Also Offers EV Car-Sharing at The Elysian

LOS ANGELES, Calif., Feb. March 6, 2014--Linear City Development today announced the nation's first apartment building to provide free electric vehicle charging for tenants. Seeking to boost EV adoption, Linear City has installed 20 (Level 2) EV charge stations at The Elysian, a 96-unit conversion of Los Angeles' historic Metropolitan Water District (MWD) headquarters. It will cover the cost of electricity for the life of every original EV-driving tenant's lease.

Most EVs today are driven by homeowners who can install charging stations without a landlord's permission, and public charging stations for renters are not yet ubiquitous. Linear City is working to topple those barriers.

"The lack of chargers in apartment buildings is one of the biggest obstacles to widespread electric car adoption," said Linear City partner Yuval Bar-Zemer. "If we can prove that our paradigm makes sense in the market place, then we are confident that other developers will follow suit. We want free EV charging for renters to be seen as a standard amenity."

Architect William L. Pereira, renowned for such mid-20th century landmarks as the original Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Transamerica building in San Francisco, designed the MWD complex housing the office tower, completed in 1973. Working with architect David Lawrence Gray, Linear City preserved much of the building's iconic architecture while adding the latest technological innovations including 240-volt EV charging stations. Rents in the eight-story tower, located at 1115 Sunset Boulevard just north of downtown L.A. in Victor Heights, will range from $1,500 to $6,500. Parking spaces, offered as an option, will cost an additional $100-$150.00 each per month. An on-site EV car-sharing program will also be available.

"By making parking optional to the lease, we're broadcasting to residents that it might not make sense to even own a car," said Len Hill, Bar-Zemer's Linear City partner. "By providing easy EV charging and cost efficient ride-share alternatives, we hope to change the way people think about urban living."

Linear City operates a four-EV car-sharing program in downtown L.A.'s Arts District, where it installed L.A.'s first EV fast charger (480 volts) in a public parking lot across from its signature Toy Factory and Biscuit Company Lofts. The fast charger stands next to a suite of 10 240-volt, Level II charging stations, six more of which Linear City installed at its 7+Bridge loft project, also in the Arts District and home to the award-winning Bestia restaurant.

Other environmentally friendly upgrades at The Elysian include a solar thermal system designed to provide all of the building's hot water needs. Its floor-to-ceiling windows, all new, are double-pane with high E glass. LED lighting is used throughout the building.

Units in The Elysian range from 600 to over 1,700 square feet. All feature spectacular views of L.A., large balconies, remote controlled Mecho shades, custom Italian cabinetry by Industria Mobili Montagner SRL and top-of-the-line appliances by Bertazzoni and Bosch. The building, next to L.A.'s historic Angelino Heights historic neighborhood, includes a ground-floor restaurant space and 14 two-story penthouse suites that boast 20-foot-high windows with panoramic views. Linear City purchased the tower in late 2011.

"The building has enough electrical capacity to charge 96 cars," Bar-Zemer said. "We can and will accommodate the load and cost if every single tenant has an EV. That would be amazing."

Team Contributors' Statements:

Architect: David Lawrence Gray, FAIA, Principal, David Lawrence Gray Architects

"The Metropolitan Water District building's most notable features are its exposed columns, four on each end, east and west. The concept was to pull the columns outside of the building and make them almost appear to be freestanding architectural elements. In fact, they are the predominant gravity-bearing columns for the building. We preserved them entirely.

The exterior horizontal platforms, one on each floor, are another key feature. These functioned as balconies for some of the original building's offices. We gave each apartment unit its own balcony by removing a floor-level bulkhead but retaining an existing steel window mullion and filling it with a huge piece of glass for a 10-foot window. Visually, this opened up the building from the inside and the outside."

Interior Design: Tatum Kendrick, Creative Director, Studio Hus

"Obviously, we took our cues from the mid-20th century architecture, but we wanted to add a modern-day, eclectic feel. So the main furniture piece in the lobby is a curved, 1950s-Gio Ponti style sofa, but we custom designed the front desk to read as a monolithic, book-matched marble block, which is almost sculptural in form. For the lobby lighting we selected wall and ceiling lights by local artist Jason Koharik, which are reminiscent of 1950s French masters such as Serge Mouille. For one of the art pieces, we created a large-scale contact sheet of Julius Shulman photographs that he shot during construction of the building. It tells a story and draws you in."

Patio Design: Ilan Dei, Owner, Ilan Dei Studio

"We wanted to complement the tower's strong, minimalist architectural details and muted color palette by creating a rich, warm, and inviting atmosphere for the building's tenants through the fireplace areas, yoga deck and semi-private cabanas. We were inspired also by the rich cultural history of California's indoor/outdoor lifestyle and wanted to create a space where residents could feel like they were transported to the mountains while never leaving downtown Los Angeles."

About Linear City Development: Linear City Development LLC, is a dynamic downtown Los Angeles-based real estate developer of mixed use, urban infill communities. The company has developed over 650,000 square feet of live-work, office and retail space in five downtown L.A. Arts District buildings since its founding in 1999. Linear City's Toy Factory Lofts, Biscuit Company Lofts and Industrial Street Arts Studios projects form a new live-work community on the 1800 block of Industrial Street, in what had been a desolate corner of downtown Los Angeles.

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