Bridging the Generation Gaps
At some point, each generation gets a moniker that sticks, whether it’s the baby boomers, generation X or generation Y/millennials. While the names change, their needs for work, food, clothing and shelter remain the same, generation after generation.
The most successful multigenerational apartment communities are the ones that understand the common threads such as prime location, quality craftsmanship and premier amenities that attract the entire age spectrum, while incorporating the differing needs of the potential renter base. The requirements of empty nesters looking to downsize from a single-family home, divorced spouses who need some extra room and a 25-year-old who might be on his own for the first time and pinching pennies can be accommodated if they’re taken into account during the initial design process.
Location is key
In the real estate game, location is still at the top of the list for developers and, of course, potential residents. Developers do their best to create amenity-rich communities in vibrant destinations with dynamic downtowns to attract residents for the long-term. Providing convenient access to a wide diversity of offerings is the primary way to attract residents of all ages because there’s something to suit everyone.
For example, this can be achieved through the development of an apartment community in a strategic, transit-oriented submarket that offers access to major urban centers for young professionals as well as a walkable, fun-by-day environment for those just starting to relax and enjoy retirement.
Representative of this is the first phase of The Collings at The LumberYard, a luxurious apartment community located in a convenient and pedestrian-friendly location in downtown Collingswood, N.J. The location itself played a significant role in our deciding to acquire and develop the project because we knew potential residents of all ages, from recent graduates to empty nesters, would be attracted to the accessibility the location affords.
The community’s strategic location is just two blocks from the PATCO station, providing a 16-minute train ride into Philadelphia and easy access to destinations such as Atlantic City, New York City and Washington, D.C. It is ideal for commuters as well as for those who prefer mass transit to driving.
Developing in a centrally located destination will always be appealing to a wide swath of prospective renters. No matter whether the resident is in their 20s, 30s, 40s or 50s, most enjoy being in close proximity to local amenities, especially if they include highly acclaimed shopping and dining options. As an example, The Collings at The LumberYard takes advantage of being a short distance from Collingswood’s famous Haddon Ave.—named one of the best streets in America by the American Planning Association— that features the borough’s highly acclaimed “Restaurant Row,” an eclectic variety of shops, in addition to a calendar full of community fairs and events, and close proximity to community parks and the public pool.
It’s said that quality never goes out of style, and that is certainly true in the design and building process. When you develop communities with long-term ownership in mind, it’s important to utilize quality products and exhibit persistent attention to detail while utilizing state-of-the-art architectural design because this will be attractive to any prospective renter no matter their age.
When completing the first phase of The Collings, we were committed to the use of quality products within the 34 residences, a mix of apartment homes and townhomes. We also featured unique and oversized floorplans, ranging from 900 to almost 2,000 square feet, because no matter what age the prospective renter is it is always important to have a little extra space at your disposal—no matter if it’s for an extra pair of shoes or for when the grandkids visit.
In the planning process of The Collings, we also kept in mind that empty nesters might be more comfortable with the townhome concept, while someone who is just starting out would be more interested in a more affordable one-bedroom format. And the two- or three-bedroom apartment setup would suit the needs of a single parent. Features such as hardwood flooring, Energy Star appliances, generous closet space, gourmet kitchens with granite countertops and full-size washers and dryers have a widespread appeal.
Thinking long-term also means considering issues of sustainability that are beneficial for the community as a whole and continue to rank higher on the list of attributes prospective renters consider when selecting their next apartment home. It’s important for developers to use cutting-edge, environmentally conscious construction and an array of modern yet sustainable amenities in the development of each community because these practices enable a better and greener today and tomorrow.
Common area commonalities
Amenities are a key differentiator between building a community and community building. A successful community will feature appealing amenities designed to satisfy the needs of all residents and connect them as neighbors.
For example, having an inviting and comfortable resident lounge/community room with communal Wi-Fi supporting residents’ connectivity can serve dual purposes. One area can be allocated for younger residents to use gaming equipment, while another can be used for conversations or as a quiet place for reading and relaxing.
Other popular amenities that have cross-generational appeal include:
- A state-of-the-art fitness center featuring the latest cardio and strength equipment designed to contribute to residents’ healthy lifestyles
- Beautifully landscaped courtyard with community grill for summer barbeques
- Convenient deck parking
- Being a pet-friendly community
When developing a multifamily community that is intended to serve a large cross-section of prospective renters it is important to implement a holistic development approach that combines the best of location, amenities, and quality. If you keep this at the forefront, the end-result is sure to be the right fit for any age.
M. Brad Ingerman serves as president and CEO of Ingerman, which has been developing, building and managing award-winning multifamily communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region for over two decades. Ingerman represents an umbrella of companies engaged in residential real estate development, management and construction.