IRVINE, CA - According to Rohit Anand, AIA, NCARB and principal with award-winning KTGY Group, Inc., Architecture + Planning, rents are rising and the renter pool is growing; yet, demographics continue to point to a savvier, younger resident at apartment communities across the country. While this new renter favors an urban amenity-rich environment, they also can’t afford much more than 700 square feet. This has resulted in smaller unit sizes and multi-use amenity spaces.
"Renters are willing to trade apartment community amenities and unit sizes to be in the center of the action," Anand said. "Infill parcels, especially near transit nodes and urban centers, are the most desirable. And, new apartment community designs are delivering densities in excess of 200 dwelling units/acre with structured parking," Anand said.
With units getting smaller, amenity areas that house club rooms, fitness centers, pools, are also being re-visioned, Anand noted. "What has changed is how an amenity package is programmed. Today’s apartment communities emphasize open, connected spaces, and many of the newer amenities are on par with what has traditionally been included in hospitality projects."
According to Anand, entry lobbies for some of the newest apartment communities might be nearly indistinguishable from a hotel lobby. "We are creating entry lobbies that have the visual energy of a hotel -- open with several areas differentiated with furnishings allowing residents to congregate and connect in smaller groups," Anand said.
With smaller units, residents want "second places" to congregate, Anand noted. "Designers are currently rethinking staple amenity spaces and thinking of new spaces, all designed to facilitate interaction. These spaces are more open and less defined by walls. Instead, they are more defined by function and furnishings and are grouped by complementary activities.
Anand said that the key to success is to create more open floor plans in a smaller footprint; not necessarily by making rooms smaller, but mostly by eliminating a room such as the living or dining room. "By designing in flexibility with main spaces such as the living or dining room, the renter can tailor his home to his or her specific lifestyle."
Anand cites additional design trends including kitchens becoming more open and edgy, with perhaps a galley, less cabinets, and with a "mobile island." The bedroom mix is also changing when designing a new apartment community; less two and three bedrooms and more one-bedroom and efficiency apartments. But, with smaller unit sizes, large windows help connect the outside with the inside and make the apartments feel much bigger, Anand said.
And it is the outdoor areas, even in colder climates that are seeing the most innovative spaces. "The outside is an increasingly popular second space to gather. Seating areas are centered around a gas fireplace or fire pit, gas heaters, umbrellas, canopies, tents, sundecks, outdoor cooking kitchens, tiki bars, and cabanas around pool areas, all provide residents wonderful opportunities to connect with each other and the outdoors. Rooftop patios especially with views, pools and green roofs should be provided as we believe the additional rents will mitigate the additional cost."
Anand also adds that dog runs or trails (rooftop or courtyard), and dog-washing facilities are being designed into even narrow, previously ignored spaces.
"This generation is more focused on the impact of its carbon footprint but they are not willing to pay more for it," said Anand. "However, if they are given the choice between two buildings with the same rent, they'll pick the more sustainable one. Being green can lead to a higher occupancy level and lease renewal rate. Green features like Energy Star appliances, reduced lighting fixtures, low-flow plumbing fixtures, designing for daylighting, and solar in common areas can reduce energy costs for both the renter and the property owner," Anand said.
"Along with the green roofs, we are seeing vegetable gardens crop up, and programs like Zipcar rental stations and transit shuttles being offered," added Anand.
"High-end finishes, fixtures, stainless steel appliances, contemporary cabinets, green flooring, granite/stone tops, primary colors bold colors and shapes provide compelling comparison shopping for the prospective rented," Anand said. "How we potentially re-vision amenity spaces for today's younger renter can determine the success of a community."
Anand has been invited to participate as a speaker at the 2011 Multifamily Executive Conference session, "Size Matters: Inside the Smaller, More Efficient Apartment of the Future," on Monday, October 3, 2011, from 3:45 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. The Multifamily Executive Conference, “Welcome to Renter Nation," will be held from October 3-5, 2011, at the Aria Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Anand heads up KTGY's East Coast office in Vienna, Virginia and brings 25 years of professional achievement in leading the design of multifamily/residential developments. Anand's experience includes the design of nearly 25,000 market rate residential units ranging from for-rent and for-sale multifamily units to single family attached and detached homes. He is adept at providing product positioning advice and efficient construction systems that help meet developers' proforma. He counts among his clients four of the nation's top ten multifamily residential developers: Trammell Crow Residential, UDR, The Bozzuto Group and Avalon Bay. Anand is a frequent presenter at industry conferences and has won numerous awards for his work, written articles for industry publications and appeared on TV shows.
KTGY-designed Darley Green, a luxurious townhome community, in historic Claymont, Delaware, was recently featured on HGTV's Showcase Showdown. Two professional interior designers, Quentin Eshleman and Nile Johnson, competed to impress potential homebuyers with their signature styles to win this competition. Darley Green is located at Darley Road & Philadelphia Pike in North Wilmington.
For more information about the Multifamily Executive Conference, visit www.mfeconference.com.
Established in 1991, KTGY Group, Inc., Architecture + Planning, provides comprehensive planning and award-winning architectural design services for residential communities, retail, hospitality, mixed-use and related specialty developments. KTGY delivers innovative solutions that reflect clear understanding of development, marketing and financial performance and takes particular pride in its highly motivated and principal led studios. Serving clients worldwide, KTGY maintains offices in Irvine, Oakland and Santa Monica, Calif., Denver, Colo., and Tysons Corner, Va.