MHN Asks … The Apartment of the Future

Social amenities and technology-enabled experiences will distinguish apartment buildings in the coming years, experts say. Sustainability will be another key attribute.

How do you envision the multifamily property of tomorrow in terms of design and amenities?

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Mark McHenry, managing director & vice president, Hillwood Multifamily

Mark McHenry

❝The design and development of tomorrow’s multifamily communities is being shaped by shifting demographics, evolving consumer preferences and emerging technology and transportation initiatives. Lifestyle-focused features and amenities and a greater variety of floor plan options to serve a diverse consumer base will be important factors in new properties. Coworking spaces will be incorporated into apartment communities due to mobile technology advancements and the growth of remote working situations. Technology will enhance the resident experience, increase efficiency in operations and improve design and decision-making using artificial intelligence coupled with vast amounts of consumer data. Increasing emphasis on health and wellness will push designers toward more healthy building design, a variety of fitness options and walkable location features. Last, the growing trend toward ride sharing and emerging transportation technologies, such as driverless vehicles and air taxis, are shifting the way we look at parking over the next generation of apartment development.❞  

Alicia Scott, vice president of design, LMC

Alicia Scott

❝As the apartment industry exhibits increased focus on creating a sense of community within neighborhoods, amenity spaces are becoming more interactive. Mixed-use developments, for instance, are starting to incorporate retailers inside the lobby to foster a community vibe, enabling residents to go directly into their own coffee shop or onsite restaurant. Efforts are also being made to create social spaces that are inviting and functional for core use but also have the flexibility to be modified as needed to fit evolving renter profiles. Communities will also start to cross-pollinate their amenities to make them more communal and naturally progress into one another, such as blending the clubroom into the bike shop. Perhaps most notably, amenities will cater to renter psychographics in addition to demographics. More than ever, developers are putting an enormous amount of thoughtfulness into each individual community, becoming savvy about the neighborhood and diagnosing what speaks to residents in each particular locale.❞

 Tara Hovey, president & COO, Optima Inc.

Tara Hovey

❝Multifamily projects in the near future will continue to raise the bar on programming amenities and experiences that create a community that enables people to feel more connected. For example, Optima will continue to build an engaging environment that can enhance the energy of residents by offering a place where they can find a sense of peace, calm, spaciousness and connection to nature. Our residents can also expect more services and conveniences built into the residential experience, specifically focused on simplifying life for residents by adding convenience, such as daily access to an on-site personal chef and homes featuring new advances in smart in-home technology. In addition, overall wellness will be a recurring theme as new Optima developments strive for energy neutrality to lower the impact on the community as a whole.❞

Jackie Urgo, president, The Marketing Directors

Jackie Urgo

❝In order to remain competitive in today’s residential market, developers and marketing firms must continue to raise the bar, especially with the current increase in the residential supply to garner their share of the target audiences. As a result, we see a much greater focus on lifestyle activation/programming and amenity-rich common spaces that help attract and retain residents.

Communal social spaces are more important than ever before as young millennials see these as an extension of their living spaces. From state-of-the-art laundry rooms to billiards, ping-pong tables and curated Spotify playlists, common areas in residential properties are becoming the major selling points for residents. Activated lobbies with cafés, morning coffee and breakfast treats, and even piano bars, are also being conceptualized and executed.

Unique coworking spaces are also a focus for developers. These spaces are being designed from the building’s inception to accommodate an influx of people working from home and not just at the conventional business centers and conference rooms. And, sustainability is no longer an afterthought but rather an essential element of all new developments.❞

Jon Pickard, principal, Pickard Chilton

Jon Pickard

❝Similar to the transformative shifts we are experiencing and incorporating into our workplace designs, we believe that the next- generation multifamily properties will further evolve to more communal, inter-generational and integrated environments. In addition to the convenience and retail amenities commonly available, there is a growing expectation for more experiential amenities as well as a tremendous focus on wellness. With a high degree of sustainability an increasingly common standard, these properties are now beginning to include a gamut of on-demand amenities, ranging from digital concierges and interactive intelligent building platforms, to rooftop farms and near instant access to ride- and car-sharing services. The design of the multifamily buildings of the future must support this digital transformation and the aforementioned amenities. However, fundamental to the building’s design will be its inherent flexibility. Whether looking ahead to a given project’s potential for repurposing, such as the reprogramming of parking garages, floor plates or tenant mixes, a multifamily project’s re-adaptability will undoubtedly be the hallmark of its success in delivering meaningful long-term value.❞

Bob Matteson, CEO & founder, Mobile Doorman

Bob Matteson

❝Smart home technology and allowing residents to define their living experiences will be two vital driving factors of the multifamily property of tomorrow. It is one thing to have smart home technologies available, it is a whole new ball game when you have the best means possible for residents to define and control those functionalities. Today’s renters conduct their personal lives on their mobile devices and yet as an industry still aren’t meeting them there. By marrying the ability for residents to control their individual smart home technologies into a user-friendly mobile app not only delivers greater resident satisfaction but streamlines onsite operations. No longer will leasing teams be responsible for education and support on smart home technologies, allowing them to focus more of their time and effort on other customer service initiatives.❞

Ben Creamer, co-founder and managing broker, Downtown Apartment Co.

Ben Creamer

❝I think the future of multifamily will continue to trend towards enhancing service amenities and creating social spaces that encourage resident engagement. Many properties are adding wow-factor social amenities—spa-inspired pools, gourmet kitchens, music lounges, and entertainment spaces—in dramatic areas, such as rooftops or penthouses, to stand out with prospective renters. Equally important, hotel-style concierge services like on-site dry cleaning, housekeeping and in-home package delivery can ease the burdens of day-to-day life. Multifamily properties will continue to find new and creative ways to both socially engage residents and deliver white-glove service. Today’s tech-savvy renter wants everything at the touch of a button, and multifamily communities will have to keep up.❞

Stephen DeSimone, president & CEO, DeSimone Consulting Engineers

Stephen DeSimone

❝Luxury residential developments will always be with us. As the glut of inventory grows and prices retreat, much of it is still out of the reach for the average earner. Since the financial crisis, attitudes about housing have changed. While the market continues to strengthen, many owners are still underwater. The American dream of owning your own home, as it turned out, was not such a great investment after all.

While the condo market cools, multifamily rental construction is booming. Many Millennials and empty nesters are choosing to rent as opposed to own. The advent of the share economy provides flexibility and options to those who prefer Uber over car ownership. Many of the projects we are involved with stress price point over square footage. People are looking at affordability and are more than willing to eschew a larger apartment, provided the building is chock-full of amenities. Some of our projects are beginning to resemble coworking spaces like WeWork. Beyond an onsite fitness center and golf simulator, developers are building more than just an assemblage of housing units. They are actually building communities by giving residents a place to work, play and congregate with their fellow tenants. Cafés and common space for those who work from home provide more than a place to live but a place to connect, network and socialize.❞

Read the December 2018 issue of MHN.

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