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In these apartments, millennials don't even have to change light bulbs

How many millennials does it take to screw in a light bulb?

None, if they live in one of Rane Property Management's apartment or townhouse complexes in the region.

That's because the father-and-son development team of Anthony and Nicholas Cutaia has carved out a niche by marketing many of their rental properties to millennials and other young professionals who want a high level of services and amenities.

Tenants can call management if a light bulb goes out, and someone will come over to replace it.

Forget about carrying laundry down to the basement or a laundromat, because every apartment has its own washer and dryer.

Rane even sends someone around to pick up the garbage, so that tenants don't have to lug it out to a trash bin.

"I'm capable of changing a light bulb," said Liz Callahan, 30, who works with members of her generation as program manager for the Buffalo Niagara Partnership's BN360 young professionals group. "If I had the option to not climb a ladder and change a light bulb, would I? Probably."

[Gallery: Grand Island apartments for millennials]

To be sure, there are other property management companies that offer high-end services and amenities. And the services Rane provides are reflected in the rents the company charges, which range from $1,080 for an 805-square-foot one-bedroom apartment on Grand Island up to $2,230 for a 1,653-square-foot three-bedroom, two-bath townhouse in East Amherst.

But the Cutaias said the apartments and townhouses appeal to their target audience. And they had better, because Rane keeps building more.

Rane Property Management has $150 million in apartments and townhouses under construction or nearing completion in Amherst, Grand Island, Hamburg and Lancaster, Anthony Cutaia said.

"We can't get to the level where we put too much into the unit. We keep making them like a house," said Anthony Cutaia, Rane's president. "It seems like every little feature we add, people are willing to pay for it."

A living room in a model apartment at Rane Property Management's Heron Pointe apartment complex at 1993 Grand Island Boulevard on Grand Island. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Cutaia said he grew up in the development business in the Toronto area. He came to this country in the early 1980s and is an American citizen now.

Rane's first project here was Dockside Village, a complex along Transit Road just north of Wolcott and Dann roads, which opened in 2006.

The Cutaias work with a group of about a dozen investors to provide the financing for their various projects. Further, Cutaia said, they are partners with Morgan Communities of Rochester on about half of their projects.

The projects underway or soon to finish include:

  • Clifton Heights in Hamburg, where the clubhouse is set to open in June and the entire project should be finished by June 2018.
  • An expansion at Dockside Village, where Rane is adding 244 units to the existing 276 units at the complex, almost doubling its size to 520 total. The work started four months ago and pre-rental of the new units has begun. People should be able to start moving in starting in mid-summer, and the last of the 18 new buildings should be finished within 18 months.
  • Fairways at Lancaster, which boasts 76 upscale villa-style apartments for seniors. The project, which should finish up by May, was built on the former nine-hole Harris Hill Golf Course in Bowmansville. Rane initially planned 250 apartments at the site, but after running into opposition from neighbors, scaled back the development to the townhouses. Rane left three holes of the golf course for residents to play.
  • Heron Pointe, on Grand Island, where Rane is building 232 apartments in 20 buildings. Work started about six months ago and should wrap up within 12 months. The first 40 or so residents already have moved in, and the clubhouse is open. A pool and cabana area will open by summer.
  • Lockwood Villas, Amherst, located on Sweet Home Road, near Dodge Road, has 69 units of townhouse-style apartments that should be finished by June.

That doesn't count Rane's proposed development of two, five-story buildings in northwest Amherst, on Niagara Falls Boulevard, near the former Evergreen Golf Course. The buildings would have retail and garage parking on their first floors and a total of 152 apartments on their upper floors.

That project has a price tag of $15 million to $18 million, Cutaia said.

"We have investors who believe in us, and we put up a lot of our own capital as well, and away we go," Cutaia said.

A number of developers offer upscale apartments with expensive design touches and attractive amenities within their complexes. Rane does that, too, but it really tries to win over its 20- and 30-something tenants with a focus on attentive service.

Cutaia said tenants can call building management, leave the old light bulb on the counter, and someone will come over to change it.

As for garbage, he said, tenants don't like having to drag their refuse across the parking lot to a trash bin. So management provides them with containers, tenants put the garbage-filled containers out in the hallway between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. and someone comes by in the morning to pick it up. That's in the newer, larger complexes with elevators, and Cutaia calls it "trash valet." For the townhouse-style units, with attached garages, tenants can wheel their trash right out to the street for pickup.

"I don't know how to put this politically correct, but millennials don't want a lot of heavy lifting," Cutaia said. "They like to be serviced, so we service the heck out of them."

The properties also offer 24-hour emergency service, so if a smoke alarm goes off, an employee will come right away.

Cutaia showed off Heron Pointe, which is partly completed, to a reporter last week. The clubhouse features a fitness center, a theater room with a large-screen TV and a bar area that can be rented out, though residents must provide their own alcohol. It opens up on the soon-to-open 46-foot, salt-filter pool and cabana area, with a gas grill. It also will have a playground for children and a dog park for pets.

One of the buildings at Rane Property Management's Heron Pointe apartment complex on Grand Island, pictured on Thursday, March 23, 2017. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

A two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse-style apartment there rents for $1,425, Cutaia said. That type of unit includes an attached garage. It comes with gas or electric fireplace, all of the kitchen appliances included, a washer and dryer, balcony or patio and large walk-in closet.

Empty nesters, and snowbirds, also like the townhouse setup without the hassle of owning a home.

Those features and services don't come cheap, however. Many of the rents Rane charges are higher than a monthly mortgage payment in the area. Cutaia said once property taxes are factored in, the costs are closer.

The difference between the millennials who seek out Rane's properties in the suburbs and the young professionals who want to live downtown, or in the Elmwood Village, Cutaia said, is Rane's millennials are slightly older and more likely to be in a steady relationship, or to be married with a child. "It's the transition time," he said.

Callahan, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership's employee, said she soon will move into The School Lofts @ Abbott, the former St. Thomas of Aquinas School in South Buffalo, which Karl Frizlen converted into apartments. Callahan said she appreciated that she won't have to lug her laundry to her parents' house, a laundromat or to the basement because her apartment will have its own washer and dryer.

The millennials she works with through BN360 are working 40 hours a week, some of them have families, some are trying to get startup businesses going and others are involved in sports, so a chance to outsource a task such as housework is appealing.

"I think if you look at a lot of life hacking and time management articles, it's not about being lazy, it's just about priorities and using your time more efficiently," Callahan said.

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