January 25, 2022 |
Updated January 25, 2022
The way the multifamily industry operates during the pandemic continues to evolve, and community amenities are no exception.
From presenting online cooking classes to reconfiguring amenities spaces for social distancing compliance, rental housing and the amenities within the industry are changing. Are operators adapting as they should be? As with everything, the pandemic has forced the industry to re-evaluate what amenities communities offer and become more creative with which amenities are not only appropriate for the times but will last beyond COVID-19.
However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It has opened new opportunities that weren't even considered before, and in many ways, this is the industry’s time of enlightenment.
During the 2021 Apartmentalize session, “The Post-COVID-19 Evolution of Amenities,” industry leaders discussed how they adapted quickly to the continuous changes, while keeping residents safe and engaged in our new normal.
Three areas that operators can effectively adjust fit the times are by creating community spaces within buildings, making upgrades to apartment homes and providing community activities to instill a sense of camaraderie among residents.
Creating Community Spaces Within Buildings
This ties into putting an emphasis on health and wellness. Large windows that allow for maximum sunshine to pour in and promote light and open air flow are one way to encourage the use of community spaces within buildings. As people gather together in group settings, it is important operators take all the steps necessary to make residents feel safe and comfortable in doing so.
There are now certifications, such as Fitwel, that buildings can attain if they meet certain criteria. “A lot of our commercial buildings have Fitwel certification,” said Raymond Van Beveren, Senior Managing Director at Cushman & Wakefield. “It’s a great certification to prove to your residents that we care about their health.”
Additionally, with more people staying home, commercial grade Wi-Fi is a necessity for operators. “Commercial grade Wi-Fi is super important. It’s probably the number one amenity in my mind,” Van Beveren said.
Changes Within Units
The key is to be flexible with spaces. Many people continue to work from home, so multifunctional spaces are crucial in apartment homes. Hideaway desks, swivel lighting and sound-reducing materials are becoming in-demand features to support those who work from home.
Altering lighting is an easy way to change the mood in a room and allows residents to have a “different” space, even while in the same room. In fact, searches for “vibey lighting” have increased by 400%, illustrating the desire people have for that in their home.
Having a sense of community enhances the quality of life for all residents. This can be done in a number of ways, including online classes and activities, sport courts, outdoor living spaces, community gardens and large open spaces for residents to congregate. When creating outdoor spaces, be sure to install heating lamps and shaded areas, making it comfortable year-round.
Operators are finding that if you provide it, residents will use it.
“Getting people the stuff that equates to what their backyard would have, be that grilling areas or the community garden or just a fire pit, that’s what people are looking for,” said Holli Beckman, Vice President of Marketing and Leasing Operations at WC Smith. “On the community gardens, we’ve installed these at multiple communities, and we actually have to have a lottery now for the plots,'' she added.
Residents working from home and spending more time at home will continue for the foreseeable future, so investing in practical, useful amenities will remain relevant well into the future.
“Market based on what consumers say, but operate based on what consumers do,” said Beckman.
Andrew Ruhland is a Junior Account Executive and Assistant Content Writer for LinnellTaylor Marketing.