By Diana Mosher, Editorial Director
Exercise areas, grooming stations and daycare options for pets are quickly becoming the norm. Developers that don’t provide relevant features for pet owners will be in for a rude awakening. The focus on pets isn’t likely to change anytime soon—especially if Millennials continue the current trend of getting married and starting families later in life. A quick Google for “wholesale pet products” or “luxury pet products” reveals great ideas for pet-friendly welcome gifts such as paw protection creams or “happy birthday” gourmet dog biscuits. Cat owners are just as passionate about their pets.
Recognize renters who don’t have pets
The current emphasis on connecting with pet owners is not a priority for renters who don’t have pets. The marketplace will see a demand for special elevators designated for pet owners and “pet free” zones. Certain apartment units will need to be reserved for non-pet residents (especially those who might have allergies).
The kitchen does a vanishing act
Another trend we’re watching is micro kitchens. Open concept kitchens are a great way to make apartment floorplans appear larger and to showcase luxury (or unique) finishes, cabinets and appliances. But the opposite approach also works nicely especially in micro units. Rather than making the kitchen a focal point, hide it away behind cabinetry until it’s needed.
We recently featured Resource Furniture’s Stealth Kitchen Modules. This new product line is basically a reinterpretation of the very functional hide-away kitchen that allows full-sized appliance, work
surfaces and storage areas to become completely invisible when not in use. In as little as six linear feet, a Stealth Kitchen incorporates a refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, microwave, oven, cook-top, sink, counter space and storage. It all fits behind a wall of cabinetry that blends into its surroundings.
One of the most interesting things to emerge from research on Millennials is that this cohort not only enjoys the company of their parents, they also enjoy the company of their friends’ parents. Multi-generational apartment communities will do very well in the next decade.
We are learning from hotel developers about the “Follower” segment of the Baby Boomer demographic. This group is comprised of Baby Boomers who crave design and individuality when they book a hotel, select office space or dine in a restaurant. They want to experience an edgier reality. Their needs are similar to Gen Y. These empty nesters are devoted to their pets (!) and to their mobile devices.
Multi-generational living is hardly a new idea, and in most apartment buildings around the world it happens organically. In the next several years, we’ll see a purely North American and highly design- and technology-driven reinterpretation of this model as more developers build boutique apartment communities for multiple (like-minded) generations.
Learn to lease green buildings
Urban agriculture, saltwater swimming pools and community composting are on the rise in multifamily housing. But some leasing teams are hesitant to use green building certifications in their marketing process because they say these certifications imply that rents are higher at the green-certified property than at another without these credentials.
As more multifamily properties are built to green building standards, leasing agents will find creative new ways to incorporate the benefits of green building certification into conversations with prospects.
Food and beverage
Student housing trends provide an excellent way to forecast the desires and habits of tomorrow’s renters. Multifamily developers and operators are also gleaning effective ideas from the hotel business. One of the most interesting trends shared by Rebecca D. Jones, IIDA, principal of R.D. Jones + Associates, at a recent educational panel organized by MHN and hosted by Interface, a manufacturer of modular carpet, at their new Washington, D.C. showroom, is the inclusion of food and beverage into multifamily common areas.
Apartment lobbies will resemble hotels (and student housing) even more when they offer residents a convenient place to grab dinner—or meet for a cup of coffee—right on the premises. Jones suggests incorporating a few communal tables, in addition to private ones, to open up opportunities for social interaction.