Appealing to Millennials: Must-Haves for New Apartments

A recent webinar titled "Top 12 Must-Haves in Your 2012 Apartment Project" described important features to consider for new apartment community projects to appeal to renters, particularly Generation Y.

New York—Recently, NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) put on a webinar titled “Top 12 Must-Haves in Your 2012 Apartment Project.” The hosts, Rohit Anand, principal, KTGY Group, and Jeff Kayce, vice president, The Bozzuto Group, spoke about important things to consider for new community projects to appeal to the most renters—specifically Generation Y, who represent a large segment of the renting population. According to the speakers, these Millennials now represent a large population than that of baby boomers.

One major factor to consider when developing a new multifamily community is location. Being close to transit to get to work, as well as to restaurants, bars, etc., is important to Millennials. According to Anand, “20 minutes is key,” for commuting time. Kayce also shared that many developers are now building near transit hubs such as subway stations to make the communities easily accessible.

Apartments are also being designed to be visually appealing, as well as utilitarian. The speakers said that apartment lobby designs are now being modeled after boutique hotels.

“[The lobby] is an opportunity to make an impression,” Kayce said.

The amenities offered should be designed to appeal to Millennials. The speakers suggested having multi-use amenities, such as a conference room that also can be used as a media room or lounge.

Beware, though, of niche amenities, which, depending on the location, could be a success or barely used. For example, a dog wash area might be a success in an urban area. However, garden plots might not be successful in the same neighborhood.

Another area that is changing is the leasing area. According to the speakers, because of the Internet and smartphones, now prospective renters come in having done their research already, making the leasing a much quicker experience than in the past, so these areas can be made smaller, or have multiple uses.

One area developers and designers should definitely include is the gym.

“Do not compromise on the fitness space,” Anand said.

Millennials expect to have a fitness area in their apartment communities. Additionally, many communities are also adding other fitness features such as a yoga room, to give residents a “holistic experience.”

In terms of actual apartment units, according to Anand and Kayce, unit plans have shrunk in size since the last development cycle, though walk-in closets are still a very popular feature, as are stainless steel appliances. However, a division of space in the units is important.

“Give the residents a place to sleep, and a place to live,” Anand said.

The speakers suggested having a variety of unit designs to appeal to different lifestyles.

“Variety truly is key,” Kayce said.

Apartments are now expected to be eco-friendly. However, according to Kayce, “most renters won’t pay for it.”

The final takeaway from the webinar was that developers and designers should keep striving to innovate.

“There’s no formula for new developments,” Kayce said.