CHICAGO, IL - According to national award-winning firm KTGY Architecture+Planning's Manny Gonzalez, AIA, LEED AP and principal, with the proliferation of new apartment communities, developers have created an "amenities arms race" to attract residents and best the competition, especially in the student housing sector. "The amenities keep getting bigger and better," Gonzalez said.
The latest in apartment community amenities include rock climbing wall, a yoga and Pilates studio, outdoor lounges with a fireplace or fire pit, elaborate outdoor kitchens and dining areas, and huge swimming pools including a lazy river with party cabanas and outdoor big screen TVs (even those you can view from the pool while you are floating). For pet lovers, there is a dog park, dog run and pet wash. For cyclists, there is bike storage and a repair room, and for golfers, there is indoor golf.
One of Gonzalez's favorite amenities is “Fitness on Demand,” which makes Pilates, yoga and spinning classes available in a gym environment, is a great amenity. "If you missed a class, you can always make it up whenever it is convenient," Gonzalez said.
Not only what's inside the apartment is important but also the location. Easy access to transit and neighborhood amenities like shopping, entertainment, employment and education are big draws for renters, Gonzalez said. As land in urban areas gets more difficult to come by, smaller, more efficient floor plans that live large allow developers to increase density.
"High density developments are no longer shunned by cities, but embraced," Gonzalez said. "Successful developers are finding ways to bring in more light into the floor plans through design and orientation. Sliding walls and room dividers provide flexibility. High ceilings and floor to ceiling windows are used to create a feeling of spaciousness and a great connection to the outdoors. Zero threshold sliding glass doors to the patio or balcony extend the living and entertaining space."
Although micro apartments in large metro areas have garnered some success, Gonzalez doubts that they will catch on with Boomers. "I think as the micro apartments have been popular with Millennials, I think the great room with the one bedroom space inboard will become a staple for Boomers. As men continue to live longer you will probably see more of a demand by couples for two bedroom, two bath plans. Without advertising it, the two bedrooms and two baths provide a 'snore' room and what will actually serve as his and hers bathrooms," Gonzalez said.
Another trend is the number of condo projects being built. "At the beginning of the recovery cycle, as demand for-sale homes increased, projects that were originally entitled as apartments were converted to condos," Gonzalez said. "Today, many of the condo projects that are being entitled have an 'exit strategy' in place so if the condo market goes south, the units can be rented as apartments."
What about tech trends in the multifamily industry? "Instead of a key or a key card, you can now use your phone to open your door," Gonzalez said. "Savvy multifamily operators are using an online technology platform provider to market their communities across the Internet on high traffic sites, automate social media postings and deliver desktop and mobile platforms for prospects to transact business and to maximize retention rates. It also saves money and time."
Gonzalez also said that KTGY has incorporated an automated parking system in one of their designs. "You just drive your car up, swipe your keycard and the automation system moves and parks your vehicle. That is an amazing feat, and a lot like a magic show when someone makes a car disappear!"
"You need to set yourself apart from the competition and give renters something they can’t get anywhere else," said Gonzalez.
Manny Gonzalez is the senior partner in KTGY’s Los Angeles office and is responsible for the design, land planning, and production of residential and mixed-use developments throughout the U.S., including active adult and affordable multi-family communities. In addition to his involvement in a series of award-winning projects, Gonzalez frequently speaks at national industry events and is a critic at numerous colleges and universities. He will be a featured speaker at the Midwest Multifamily Conference's Industry Summit and will deliver his valuable insights on "2020 Vision: A View to Where Multifamily Trends are Heading," on September 15, 2015 at the Indiana Convention Center located in Downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. The event is sponsored by the Indiana Apartment Association. For more information on the event, visit the Midwest Multifamily Conference's Website.
KTGY recently announced the opening of a new office in downtown Chicago, IL to expand its services in the Midwest. The new studio will be headed by veteran designers Craig R. Pryde, AIA, LEED AP and David M. Kennedy, AIA, LEED AP, former principals of PPK Architects, as principals of the new studio. Pryde and Kennedy will also be in attendance at the Midwest Multifamily Conference's Industry Summit.
KTGY Architecture+Planning, established in 1991, is a national award-winning firm providing comprehensive planning and award-winning architectural design services for residential communities, retail, commercial, healthcare, civic, hospitality, mixed-use and related specialty developments. KTGY delivers innovative solutions that reflect clear understanding of development, market trends, consumer research and financial performance. KTGY serves clients worldwide from offices in Chicago, Denver, Irvine, Los Angeles, Oakland, Pune and Tysons.