The lobby at Le Léo 244 St. Paul’s Ave. in Jersey City — Courtesy: Park Stone Management/Fields Grade
We assembled a panel of industry experts to tackle this month’s question.
Here’s what they had to say:
Lance Blake, president, Rotwein+Blake (Livingston)
In today’s amenity wars to attract and retain tenants in luxury rental communities, developers need to focus less on getting caught up in the glitz and glamour of searching for the next best thing. Renters have come to expect an array of best-in-class amenities for social, work and play. Rather, it’s the extras that will draw and retain renters for the long term. In today’s on-demand, instant gratification world, potential renters are looking for amenities that foster their lifestyle.
In addition to all the physical spaces, they are looking for solutions that make their lives easier and more enriched. In short, white glove service, customized health and fitness, enhanced package handling and event planning, to name a few. If you program your space, activities and amenities the right way, residents will come out of their units to use them and connect with the community.
Edwin Cohen, principal partner, Prism Capital Partners (Nutley)
Today’s renters are looking for a lifestyle that facilitates work/life balance — at home, but not in home. For those with remote or hybrid work models, on-site coworking spaces are a plus. Clubhouses or in-building amenities suites are wrapping in upscale entertainment and recreation options with billiards, shuffleboard tables, multisport simulators and more; screening rooms of various sizes; and indoor and outdoor entertainment spaces with demo kitchens, bars, lounge seating and fireplaces or firepits. Fitness offerings are key, with gyms, yoga rooms and swimming pools remaining highly popular. Convenience is also king, with 24/7 keyless grab-and-go cafes, concierge services, dog spas and parks, package lockers and garage parking with EV chargers. As for what’s next, we expect ‘balance’ to remain central into the foreseeable future. That said, savvy developers know that consumer preferences change, so as much as possible new buildings are being designed with amenity spaces that foster adaptability for change.
Louis DeVos, vice president of residential property management, Woodmont Properties (Fairfield)
Woodmont Properties is very focused on providing residents with multiple options to comfortably and efficiently work from home, which we believe to be a critical update to our amenity packages. These options not only include designing apartment homes that are spacious and have added room options such as dens and lofts, but also spaces around our communities where our residents can go when working in their home is not ideal. We have found that our residents who work from home occasionally just want a change of scenery, or wish to collaborate with others, so we are designing convenient and private spaces in our common areas for this purpose, and continue to include conference rooms with multimedia capabilities in our designs. In addition, having high-speed internet available in all our common areas is another must have for our residents, and we provide that free of charge.
Dean Marchetto, founding principal, MHS Architecture (Hoboken)
The next must-have amenity perks or design features in new apartment buildings will have a greater focus on automated, flexible and sustainable environments. Buildings with a sense of place that embrace a community energy and fulfill the resident’s immediate and daily needs is also essential. In our experience, recent projects are now routinely designed to include indoor/outdoor amenity and co-working spaces that offer flexible uses and provide electrical outlets, high-speed internet access and comfortable seating. Indoor basketball courts, green roofs, smart-home systems that monitor and reduce energy usage, on-site EV charging stations and energy-efficient appliances have also been in greater demand.
David Minno, president, Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners (Lambertville)
As the regional multifamily market matures, it is increasingly important for project owners to distinguish themselves through amenities that have an impact on renters. Most projects check off the list of standard offerings that include, fitness, clubroom, pool, co-working space and package management.
We believe that personal services, on an a’ la carte basis, will be increasingly important in attracting tenants who are busy, frequent travelers and who want professional, lifestyle services that are similar to a fine, boutique hotel. These services can cover a broad range of resources such as: daily or biweekly cleaning service, pet walking, personal training and yoga, off-site package and food management, trash valet, auto service, car wash, massage and wellness counseling.
For obvious reasons, most projects cannot afford to provide these services with in-house staff. The alternative for project owners is to form strategic alliances with local suppliers who can accommodate services through a local, branded mobile application.
Jacqueline Urgo, president, The Marketing Directors (New York)
With the ongoing shift towards a wireless world, and the perpetual integration of smartphones into our daily lives, new innovations that effectively turn your kitchen countertop, nightstand or work-from-home desk into a wireless charging station will be adopted by developers to enhance the resident experience. Replacing today’s wireless chargers that still require a pad and wire in plain sight, this new technology delivers an affordable option for property owners to transform nonmetallic surfaces like granite, tile, wood, glass and marble into a seamless, invisible charging experience.
We also believe reimagining traditional residential lobbies to offer meaningful opportunities for resident interaction will continue to gain traction, with public cafés and other food and beverage concepts taking center stage. Borrowing from the hospitality industry’s emphasis on creating communal spaces that foster a sense of community and belonging, this approach creates a social space that encourages residents to linger, connect and engage with one another.