Elaborate residential spaces are attracting millennials and others to new apartment complexes Downtown.

A sizzling nightlife coupled with the nightly rush-hour traffic congestion causes many to dream of a Downtown place during a long commute. This spring, Sarah Thompson, who was global marketing manager with Diane Von Furstenberg in New York for five years before returning to her native Central Ohio, was among the 20-somethings who opted for a Downtown apartment.

Thompson, a graduate of Miami University, spent her first year back in the area living in New Albany and commuting to her job as a marketing vice president for a Newark bank.

"New Albany is great place to live, but I missed being within walking distance from entertainment, shops andrestaurants," she says. "There is a lot going on Downtown."

Thompson is not alone. When major highways turn into parking lots during rush-hour commutes, Downtown residents are already bicycling along the new river pathways or considering which happy hour to hit that night. And it's not only millennials moving into Downtown apartments, some empty nesters are joining them, as well.

Columbus was recently named one of America's Next "Boom Towns" byForbes. That was before Arshot Development announced plans to build the 25-story office, retail and residential center called Millenial Tower in the River South District.

Apartment construction is heavy in the city as the area experiences a healthy bounce-back from the Great Recession. New complexes, as well as historic buildings that have been converted, are part of the trend.

Additionally, in April, real estate website Zillow named Columbus the hottest rental market in the U.S. because of the number of new apartments being built, as well as its fast rental rates. Columbus numbers soared above other cities in the country-including the other top markets: Seattle, Denver and San Jose.

"It's a reflection of the desire of millennials to live in a space that's action-packed," explains Rob Vogt of Vogt Strategic Insights, a real estate marketing research and appraisal firm based in Central Ohio. The market should remain strong, according to Vogt, even when millennials start moving to the suburbs because more baby boomers and empty nesters are expected to replace them Downtown.

To attract this active crowd, basic post-college apartment complexes have evolved into lifestyle centers that feature open-air terraces, penthouse units, elaborate workout facilities and thriving communal spaces including swimming pools and resident centers. Rents are going higher and the newest apartment complexes fill fast. (Several Downtown complexes are at 100 percent capacity.) Here is a look at some of the largest Downtown apartment communities that have recently opened or are scheduled to launch soon.

The Normandy

Located on Long Street near Columbus State Community College and the Columbus College of Art and Design, the Normandy features city views from a patio open to residents, a lobby Wi-Fi hotspot, health and wellness classes, a nearby Hills Market and discount deals at Columbus restaurants. Tenants also have the opportunity to take advantage of preview invitations to art and cultural events, as well as preferred seating at sporting and entertainment venues.

The Normandy offers one bedroom, one bath units starting at $997; one-bedroom, one-bath units with a den starting at $1,493; two-bedroom, two-bath units starting at $1,543; two-bedroom , two-bath units with a den starting at $2,262 and three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath units starting at $2,912.

Some apartments include floor-to-ceiling windows, granite countertops, environmentally friendly windows and appliances, in-home laundries and personal terraces or balconies. A unique feature of this community is the spacious residents' center-including a theater room-which is located inside a former church next to the residential space. bethenormandy.com

The Atlas Apartments

Located at the corner of Long and High streets, this historic site was built in 1905 by noted Columbus architect Frank Packard. The building originally housed the Columbus Savings and Trust and, until its recent facelift, it had not been renovated since the early 1980s. "This project has been many years in the making," says Hillary Hunt, property manager with Homestead America, the management company running operations for the building.

Because the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, Hunt says it was the top priority of contractors and architects to preserve as much of the original building as possible. For example, when you enter the lobby, all of the marble is original, she says.

There are 12 floors in the building, and Hunt explains that concrete separates each floor, which provides a solid sound barrier between apartments. The concrete is not exposed in the apartment, as most units have laminate wood floors. Hunt adds that the original marble flooring was able to be restored in a few units, as well as original crown molding.

Tenants can lease studio, one- or two-bedroom apartments. Studio pricing begins at $1,005, one-bedroom units at $1,235 and two-bedroom units at $1,715. Amenities include a fitness center on the second-floor lobby, indoor bicycle storage, pet-friendly facilities, gated parking and an outdoor lounge with a grill and seating for hosting events.

"One of the great things about our building is that it is right in the heart of Downtown and is easily walkable," says Hunt, adding, "We are trying to emulate New York City-style living here, and you definitely feel like you are a part of Downtown when you are in this building." theatlasapartments.com

The Foundry at Jeffrey Park

It is nearly impossible to miss the Foundry as you drive north on Fourth Street from Downtown. The modern, brick apartments sit on what used to be 40 acres of vacant land. The property, managed by Wagenbrenner Development, is the first phase in a project that will feature additional residential options in years to come.

Sarah Gotter, property manager at the Foundry, says this community provides a different, modern look for its residents. "A lot of the buildings have floor-to-ceiling windows, which provide such a nice, open feel." She adds that apartments feature granite and stainless steel appliances. Gotter says perhaps one of the best assets of the location is the convenience factor. "We are within walking distance to the Short North but not quite within the Short North price range," she says.

Available units at the Jeffrey include studios (starting at $1,090), one-bedroom apartments ($1,230–$1,530), two-bedroom apartments ($1,905–$2,100) and townhomes (starting at $1,295). As of early spring, the community is nearly 70 percent occupied and 80 percent leased, says Gotter.

There is a community center on the property, as well as two tenants: Go Fitness and Hoof Hearted Brew Pub and Kitchen, which Gotter says has been packed since its opening. foundryjeffreypark.com

250 High

Brett Kaufman, chief executive officer of Kaufman Development, explains that the goal at 250 S. High St. was to create a multi-use space because office space was in such high demand Downtown. "We were really excited to be able to create a sense of community beyond our residential offering," says Kaufman. "We build communities we are passionate about, and with 250 High, we have been able to expand to where people live and work." (Resource/Ammirati: An IBM Company and Lextant both lease space in the building.)

Available apartments include studios (starting at $1,295), one-bedroom units (starting at $1,395) and two-bedroom units (starting at $1,995). Kaufman says there has been a lot of demand. "Residential is leasing well ahead of our projections. We are moving in residents daily as we continue to finish construction."

Amenities include a fitness space where daily activities are offered, including boot camp, yoga and spin classes. There is an outdoor patio on the 12th floor that overlooks the Columbus Commons open to residents and available for private events.

Kaufman also offers service opportunities for those who want to volunteer time somewhere. "We were the initial founding partner of Besa [a volunteer matching service]," says Kaufman, adding that giving back to the community is a top priority and focus for the company.

Without former Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman's efforts to incentivize businesses to invest in Downtown, Kaufman says it is unlikely this project would have happened. "There is a lot of activity and energy that has not existed for a while," Kaufman says. "These are the kinds of projects we love to do." livekaufman.com/communities/250-high

LVQ Apartments

Another Kaufman project will soon open. Located in the iconic LeVeque Tower, LVQ Apartments will begin on the 19th floor of the building. (A Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel will operate out of the bottom half of the tower.)

Kaufman says construction is underway for the apartments and condominiums, with the first apartment expected to open during the second half of this year. Lease prices have yet to be determined, but studios, 1- and 2-bedroom apartments are planned.

There is an advantage to sharing space with the Marriott: residents will also benefit from hotel amenities, which include valet parking, room service, housekeeping and a concierge service.

Kaufman says project developers hope there is a wide demographic represented in renters. "We know we will have some young professionals, executives and empty nesters," he says. "It will be really high quality and the nicest apartments in the city. There's nothing like it." livekaufman.com/communities/the-leveque

Taylor Swope is a freelance writer.