Putting Meaning into Amenities

Beyond luxury, thoughtful touches resonate with residents.

Who doesn’t like a free cup of coffee?

For Chris Hughes, the way to his residents’ hearts is through their caffeine jones. As principal and co-chief investment officer of Praedium Group, an investor and operator of 6,000 apartment homes that’s deployed over $12 billion in capital, he makes sure each of his communities is stocked with artisanal coffee so onsite staff can offer it to residents every morning.

“I can’t think of a community where we don’t offer that,” says Hughes. “You’re on your way out in the morning, and you stop by the clubhouse to get a free cup of coffee. It makes a connection between the resident and staff onsite, and helps build that sense of community just a little bit more.”

Hughes’ free coffee may be one of the oldest plays in the customer care playbook, but it also exemplifies how apartment community operators are expanding their view of amenities today. While pools, fitness centers, package lockers and pet options still reign supreme as must-have offerings at apartment communities, the list has also expanded to include more “thoughtful” amenities operators can provide residents, without breaking
the bank.

“New amenities that don’t exist in their current building can entice residents to move, because shiny new objects are very desirable,” says Linda Kozloski, Creative Design Director at Australian real estate conglomerate LendLease, which operates several luxury properties in Chicago. “But ‘over-the-top’ amenities aren’t always what renters want. Amenities also need to be thoughtfully designed so residents use them every day.”

This isn’t to say luxury amenities aren’t still in vogue; for instance, an exclusive club, spa and 72-foot aerial indoor pool nestled on the 28th floor of AKA University City, a deluxe high rise in Philadelphia, provide testimony to continued draw of opulence. But those
types of eye-popping amenities are increasingly augmented with unique, but more down-to-earth add-ons that help set buildings apart while engaging residents in meaningful ways to build connection and community.

Since March, the idea of connection and community has changed. As units went to press, COVID-19 and the current social distancing measures forced the closure of amenity spaces. For instance, Castle Lanterra Properties shut down all common area amenities except for essentials, such as mailrooms, package lockers, laundry rooms and dog runs. “Our general message to residents is ‘We are all in this together and taking it one day at a time,’ as we monitor current events and follow guidance from officials and the CDC,” says Elie Rieder, founder and CEO of Castle Lanterra Properties.

Eventually things will return to normal and it seems a safe bet that residents will return to amenities en masse once the situation stabilizes.

Extracted from NAA, read full article here