The Amenities Race
- Aug 08, 2017
By Daun St. Amand
For today’s residents and consumers, technology is merely a means to an end—convenience is the true Holy Grail. At the touch of an app, we can summon a ride, schedule a house cleaning, order dinner or meet “the one.” For multifamily designers and developers, that means upping the amenities game or even changing it completely to provide real-world, tangible value to overworked, time-strapped residents.
In our latest report on multifamily and vertical living, CallisonRTKL harnessed the collective imaginations of our design teams around the world, and examined the latest research on U.S. markets, demographics, sustainability, technology and consumer preferences to find out what amenities will resonate with the most renters. What amenities do we see in almost every development, which ones are reserved for exclusive properties and what will these look like in the next five to 10 years?
Data and Connections
Striking a balance between the quantitative and qualitative is no small feat and more creative, distinctive amenity packages are key to standing out in the market. Roof deck barbecues and standard fitness centers still have their place, but truly sought-after amenities allow people to recapture and enjoy their leisure time to the fullest while also helping them feel like a part of a community. For packages to correlate with an increase in lease renewals, they must be properly programmed, align with market trends and fit the community.
There are three categories at play here:
- Customary: standard and expected amenities
- Elevated: residents are willing to pay extra rent for access
- Unexpected: amenities that are true differentiators in a competitive marketplace
People are increasingly looking for an urban, low maintenance, hyper-convenient lifestyle and a neighborhood that has a high walk score. Service offerings should be tailored to residents’ lifestyles rather than blanket assumptions of what luxury looks like.
- Customary: underground parking
- Elevated: bike or car sharing on site
- Unexpected: interactive screen with customized live feed of public transit options
As modern rental and condo developments place shared spaces and services outside the unit, apartments no longer need to fulfill all the functional or spatial needs of a stand-alone home, especially for the influx of single millennials entering the rental market.
- Customary: leasing office in the lobby
- Elevated: coffee shop or café in lobby with unique seating to promote public socializing
- Unexpected: hyper-local grocery and retail market with cooking classes, day care, doggy day care, mixed-use offerings
Health and Wellness
The upscale apartment community fitness center has the potential to replace the gym or country club.
- Customary: 24-hour fitness center
- Elevated: yoga studio or spin room
- Unexpected: spa treatment room and on-demand classes covering anything from yoga to kickboxing with a virtual trainer, as well as wellness aspects like ventilation with high-efficiency filtering, indoor and outdoor spaces, water filtration and views
Outdoor access is key to relaxation and socialization for residents and their pets.
- Customary: rooftop pool and hot tub with lounge seating
- Elevated: outdoor wet bar and pizza oven
- Unexpected: rooftop restaurant and shaded jogging track
Everyone and everything is connected. Residents want seamless connectivity in and outside of their units and management wants to be able to communicate more efficiently with their residents at any time of the day.
- Customary: business center and high-speed Wi-Fi
- Elevated: Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats and concierge app
- Unexpected: a smart home that’s plug-and-play/technology-ready, and a building that offers co-working spaces like WeWork
Of course, as much as amenities matter, so does site selection. Amenities need to be considered in the context of their surrounding and what value can be added to both the residences and the community.
Today’s multifamily residential market strives to meet a broader, more diverse set of resident needs than ever before. As each generation converges on the multifamily market, the keys for success are adaptability and flexibility. Homes appealing to a broad range of residents will focus on dense urban communities or walkable mixed-use projects in the suburbs that integrate technology, minimalism, shared resources and convenience.
So what will amenities look like in these developments? A lot more brand partnering and ground-floor services for a start. With different generations gravitating toward amenity-rich multifamily housing, different types of medical facilities will be a must including urgent care facilities, vets and daycare with a pediatrician on staff.
With up to 40 percent of people engaged in the 1099 or gig economy in the next five years, on-site co-working space will become much more popular. The traditional business center just won’t cut it for tech-savvy entrepreneurs who work from home; they need the highest-speed internet for video conferencing, high-res scanners and meeting space, and a nice espresso machine wouldn’t hurt.
Unit size will likely continue its downward trajectory, but smaller, multi-functional furniture will compensate. Inside the walls, we’ll see comprehensive high-tech systems that allow total customization of temperature, light and other environmental factors. Smart appliances and robots will give residents even more leisure time by minimizing the time spent on chores and errands.
Ultimately, time is the new luxury and multifamily developments that can maximize it will see happier residents and lower lease turnover. And it will be up to architects, designers and planners to push these developments in the right direction.
Daun St. Amand is a senior vice president in CallisonRTKL’s Los Angeles office and leads the firm’s multifamily residential sector. He is responsible for overseeing market growth and residential design projects from North America to Asia. Daun is a leading industry expert in high-rise, high-density architecture with a focus on multifamily residential, and he has honed his skills in the development of mixed-use projects that combine residential, retail and hospitality-driven components.