The Evolution of Amenities in Multifamily Housing

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The Versailles, a 2017 Pillars Winner, Best Repositioning of a Multifamily Asset, offers a childrens playroom to its younger residents. Photo by Jim Graham.

By Tess Wittler

What’s driving the evolution of amenities? Lifestyle—or more specifically, how people want to live. Amenities have evolved to help residents “Live, Work & Play” within their community, which means they no longer have to go off property to get what they are seeking. When done right, they result in tenants being willing to spend more money to live in the community because of the amenities available. Here’s a look at some of the newest trends in multifamily amenities that are increasing occupancy rates.

Transforming Spaces

Common spaces are now being designed to shift throughout the day so that no space is static. The La Meridian in New Orleans has designed a space where the décor and furnishings change from café in the morning to cocktail bar in the evening. This is an attractive amenity to Millennials and Gen Z, as they like flexible, evolving spaces.

Creative Spaces

Studies show that the younger generations constantly want to learn new skills. “Creative-centric” spaces are shared work and studio spaces for use by the residents free of charge and include galleries, performance and rehearsal centers, dance studios, paint, photography and pottery studios, music practice rooms and more. By providing creative spaces within your community, you are connecting people to their hobbies and the lifestyle they want.

A-Mill Artist Lofts, 2016 Pillars Multifamily Community of the Year, includes a paint studio and ceramic studio. Photo by Dominium.
A-Mill Artist Lofts. Photo by Dominium.

Community Workspaces

By 2020, 40 percent of the workforce is slated to be freelancing, and this has created a new need beyond the standard business center. A community workspace is more than just WiFi; it makes sure that no matter where people go, they have connectivity—meaning, plenty of plugs and USB outlets (especially built into the furniture). This concept also features a variety of spaces, including communal spaces where people can come together to work, as well as private pod-style rooms that can be used when quiet is needed.

Aria at Willowick Park includes a resident library with plenty of smaller and larger seating options and work areas. Photo by Bruce Glass Photography.
e-lofts, an adaptive reuse project in Alexandria, Va. has conference rooms for residents. Photo by David Madison Photography.

Interactive Game Rooms

Gaming is much more interactive, and technology is fusing with gaming to create a new—and customizable—way for residents to come together to have fun. Participants access games via a touchscreen, and high-tech tables use digital projectors and sensors to track ball movements.

Gunbarrel Center in Boulder, Colo. offers residents a cozy common area with billiards. Photo by Daniel O’Connor.
Gunbarrel Center also features a sports simulator. Photo by Daniel O’Connor.

Fitness

While Boomers still tend to favor traditional fitness (treadmills and aerobic classes), fitness for the younger generations has turned industrial to include CrossFit equipment such as medicine balls, TRX bands and kettlebells. Fitness centers are now larger and more multi-functional to accommodate a variety of workouts.

A professional-grade gym at e-lofts is on trend with renters, especially millennial residents. Photo by David Madison Photography.

Bike Culture

The bike culture is growing, and multifamily housing is responding by including amenities for this rising form of transportation. Bike repair rooms for residents to “tinker” on their bikes, fix-it vending machines for 24/7 access to bicycle parts, and bike vaults for storage are all desirable amenities.

Verge, 2016 Pillars Finalist, Best Community Amenities, has a bike storage and repair station for residents. Photo by Les Tirmenstein.

Pet Perks

In the past decade, dog ownership has grown 29 percent, and 105 million Americans now own dogs. Simply allowing residents to have pets in their units is no longer enough. Today, a community needs to offer an array of onsite pet amenities. Some examples include dog-walking services, washing/grooming stations, pet parks with obstacle courses, and pet bars complete with water stations and treats.

 

Desmond at Wilshire in Los Angeles has a dog run for the building’s four-legged residents. Photo by Chet Frohlich and Les Tirmenstein.
Bel Air at Doral in Florida offers a pet grooming salon. Photo by Harvey Smith.

Storage Lockers

Package deliveries have risen exponentially over the last few years—and so has package theft. Communities that offer software-controlled delivery systems are a growing trend in multifamily housing. Residents enjoy the security of knowing their packages are safe and the convenience of being able to pick up their packages 24/7. Progressive properties will want to offer cold storage locker solutions, too, as grocery deliveries—either by mail (e.g., Hello Fresh) or local—are also on the rise.

Shop 24/7

Having a convenience store onsite is a desirable amenity that can also be a revenue booster. The Ladera Palms Apartments in Fort Worth installed a Shop24—a fully automated c-store stocked with about 200 different products.

When you think about the evolution of amenities, remember the driving force is centered on catering to the lifestyle your market wants and then making it as easy for them to “Live, Work & Play” in one location. Whether it is providing flu medicine at 11 p.m., cultivating a green thumb or playing into your target market’s artistic side, think about how your next multifamily project can tap into these trends to increase occupancy rates and the perceived value of your property.

 

Editor’s Note: The source of this article’s information comes from the 2018 NAHB International Builders’ Show® (IBS) education session, “The Evolution of Amenities: Lifestyle, Technology & Design Trends That Will Speak to Your Future Tenants.” More detailed information can be found by watching this session on IBS Education On Demand.

 

*Images used in this article were taken from the 2018 IBS presentation highlighted in this article.

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