Multifamily Amenities on the Rise as Unit Size Shrinks
At the same time as individual living spaces are getting smaller in apartment and condominium buildings, the space allocated to shared amenities is on an upswing and being used in new ways, according to multifamily architects appearing at last month’s International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.
The mail room, they said, may share space with a cyber café or a coffee lounge. Theatre spaces are being expanded to also offer interactive video game areas, with Wii or Guitar Hero available to residents.
Pools are becoming more than just pools, offering adjacent dog-washing facilities, or a snack and juice bar.
And views are important: passers-by on the sidewalk should see activity and people, and residents should be able to look out and see activity also — along the street or in the pool area. Bold colors and eye-catching shapes — inside and out — also tell the younger Generation Y residents who have become the focus of new multifamily development that the community is a vibrant, lively place to live.
For members of Gen Y, the multifamily community is less a home than a “base of operations.” Everything in the neighborhood — including nearby transit options — is vital to the out-and-about lifestyle of this group. Mixed-use communities start at the front door, and location has more to do with proximity to a lifestyle than being “close to work.”
Development Strategies for Hard Times
The bigger the project, the more difficult it is to finance — especially these days, the architects said. So many developers are exploring what’s possible with wood frame construction, up to five stories.
Developers are getting the most out of urban sites, wrapping buildings around parking structures or pool courtyards, or building all the way to the sidewalk, giving some ground floor units front porch stoops.
Some developers are diversifying into the active-adult rental market (another market, surprisingly, that’s fond of Wii and interactive games). Building smaller communities on smaller sites with a limited number of units is another approach that’s working for many.
Top Trendsetter Picks
The presenters each chose a community that impressed them as an indicator of trends the industry can expect to see a lot more of in the future:
- Manny Gonzalez, principal, KTGY Group, chose Grigio, an urban community in Tempe, Ariz., that has great design, bright colors and shapes, and terrific amenities. There’s a four-story community center, and residents can call the poolside café to have food and beverages delivered to their rooms.
- Sanford Steinberg, principal, the Steinberg Design Collaborative, cited the Macallen in South Boston, the area’s first gold-level green high-rise. The funky floor plans in the memorable three-sided building make use of all the structure’s angles, and its underground garage houses a community car service with a hybrid fleet.
- Paul Campbell, president of Kephart, picked Denver’s Alexan Broadway Station — a wood-frame five-story community with retail on the ground level. One section is reserved for tax-credit affordable rentals. Units are small, and nearly three-fourths are studios and one-bedrooms. The development is near light rail, and it was built on a reclaimed brownfield industrial site.
For more information, e-mail Ann Marie Moriarty at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8350.