Castle Lanterra incorporating energy, security, connected home upgrades to its multifamily props.
SUFFERN, NY — For Castle Lanterra Properties (CLP), adding “smart home” elements to its multifamily properties is a necessity in order to attract and retain tenants of all ages. The NY based, privately-owned real estate company sees the wealth of benefits smart technology offers ranging from enhancing the resident experience to improving operational efficiencies as integral to its investment strategy. “What began as a convenience that allowed homeowners to control their living environment via smartphones has evolved into an essential tool for multifamily property and portfolio managers,” said Elie Rieder, founder and CEO of CLP. For property owners looking to attract millennials, it is essential to have cutting-edge electronic controls, environmentally friendly climate systems and lifestyle amenities.” Improving Security through Access Control Residential communities with commercial tenants pose a specific challenge when it comes to ensuring the security of tenants and their guests. For instance, CLP’s 369-unit class A Regatta Sloan’s Lake multifamily complex in Denver, CO has multiple retail tenants. Facilities including the community’s fitness center, co-working space, and parking garage that offers first-floor access to the public must be access controlled. CLP invested in System Galaxy, an electronic security program that improves security and offers cost savings by eliminating the need to change locks or replace keys. Centralized in YARDI, a property management software platform, the keyless “smart lock” fob system allows the property manager to remotely limit access to the community’s buildings and amenities 24/7. Tenants must use programmable key fobs to enter their buildings and apartments as well as all common areas and resident-only floors in the garage. Investing in Energy- Saving Automation Smart home automation is gaining popularity as an amenity in multifamily residences as sophisticated renters demand the ability to control their living spaces remotely. For instance, CLP offers the Nest Learning Thermostat as part of its value-add packages with select property renovations. The smart thermostat can help reduce energy costs as much as 30%. Smart technology has evolved into energy management platforms specifically designed for the multifamily industry. CLP recently went online with the Dwelo smart apartment platform at Villas Tech Ridge, a 350-unit luxury apartment complex in Austin, TX. This community was developed as part of the Austin Energy Green Builder Program, the nation's most successful sustainable building program. The Dwelo platform allows CLP’s property management team to better understand and control energy consumption and security at the property. The ability to remotely manage thermostats and lighting as well as locks throughout the complex saves tens of thousands of dollars annually in areas ranging from managing temperature fluctuations in vacant apartments to key control. CLP is also using one of the most advanced building management systems on the market, Rentlytics, to capture, maintain and analyze data that can provide valuable insights into its property and portfolio performance. n The software system makes it easier to spot trends such as excessive energy use, or see how day-to-day activities like scheduling renovations or maintenance impact returns, so assets can be managed more proactively. Using Technology to Enhance the Tenant Experience Smart technology has multiple applications that can simultaneously improve the tenant experience and save money. At Harbor Pointe, a 544-unit multifamily property in Bayonne, N.J., CLP used available software as well as a custom app to upgrade the community’s concierge service and community transportation system. The high volume of package delivery at Harbor Pointe resulted in concierge staff spending significant effort to manage the flow of deliveries. CLP began using the Package Concierge system, which uses text messaging to notify a resident when they have a package and provides a numeric code to access it in a designated locker. This system has reduced resident wait times, created payroll savings and allowed CLP’s employees to serve residents in more valuable ways. CLP also developed a custom app that added greater security to its fleet of Mercedes shuttle buses for residents while improving the service. Property management at the community had been alerted to the fact that non-residents were using the free system as a substitute for public transportation, which resulted in overcrowding and schedule issues. The new app not only functions as an access pass, it provides residents with information about when the next bus will arrive and how many seats are available. Multifamily owners have many opportunities to upgrade the tenant experience while also saving money on utilities and other systems that eat into net operating income. CLP continues to explore the next generation of smart systems that will streamline property management. Formed in 2009, Castle Lanterra Properties is a privately held real estate investment company focused on the acquisition and management of quality income producing multifamily properties within strategic growth markets throughout the United States. Through a rigorous value-enhancement program that includes thoughtful renovations, operational improvements and ancillary income development, CLP aims to reposition each asset with the goal of maximizing NOI, elevating its competitive position within the market, and providing attractive risk-adjusted returns for its investment partners.