There is no doubt we have evidenced growth and demand in the luxury apartment market. We have also witnessed a transformation in the target profile to include two of the strongest demographic groups, Millennials and Baby Boomers. The renter profile today includes more than those without the financial resources to own a home. It now includes an incremental market who chooses to rent vs. own a home. Why? Consumers are interested in maintenance free living; and conveniences of concierge services. For Boomers, (who are more active and feel much younger than their counterparts), they are attracted to the culture and lifestyle that urban living offers. For Millennials who were influenced by the impact of the economic recession on family/friends, they do not necessarily view homeownership as the American Dream.
With the increasing number of products available, developers and designers are faced with staying ahead of the curve in order to attract as well as retain renters. They need to accommodate the discerning expectations of the market, since those that choose to rent will not want to sacrifice the comforts that they enjoyed in previous residences. Even Millennials prefer relevant indoor amenities, as well as close-by outdoor walkable amenities. Amenity spaces are becoming more like hotel lobbies in grandeur and experience, while offering a home-like design as comfortable as a family room. Common spaces focus on connecting the “live – work – play” experience. Social Connectivity. Enhanced technology. Adaptable spaces that transform when taste changes.
Research has shown that the amenities offered to renters have a direct correlation to retention - how long they rent, as well as their satisfaction levels with the building. Differentiation is essential and amenities are the priority, since dedicated amenity spaces have doubled in size in the last five years. Both demographic target groups, Millennials and Baby Boomers, look for spaces that are experiential and offer a sense of community.
Popular amenities include the following: Bike storage and repair; Car-sharing service; Child-care, Concierge services; Cooking classes; Free WiFi; Internet Cafe; Package delivery management; Rock-climbing wall; Rooftop terrace; Spa with massage; Tech and business center; Yoga, aerobics, and wellness classes; Rooftop decks and terraces with comfortable casual seating, sonic sound systems, big screen TVs, Kitchens with BBQ grills and pizza ovens. Please do not forget the Pets! Beyond a space for dogs to run, residents are attracted to grooming stations, dog stations, even treadmills.
Developers are continuing to introduce additional amenities that customize and personalize the renter’s experience. Lofts with office space; Personalized laundry services; Private elevators; Personal shopper; Outdoor cabanas are some recent, popular amenities. There is also a trend towards technology-enhanced services that allow for monitoring of lights, heating and cooling; as well as cloud connected devices. Keyless unit entry, in-wall USB outlets and even Bluetooth speaker showerheads. Another central preference is extending the indoor amenity spaces to the outside. Green spaces include resident gardens, rooftop lawns and sundecks with outdoor screens. With health and wellness playing an important role in the characteristics of both Millennials and Baby Boomers, active play and gaming areas for basketball, bocce ball to life-size chess and Jenga games are trending.
The amenities featured is a key selling point. If the needs and wishes of the residents are top of mind, and are monitored through lifestyle trends, the result will be a competitive, successful and differentiated product.
Richard Gacek is owner and principal designer at Gacek Design Group.