Building amenities have come a long way, and like price and location, they can have a significant impact on the type of tenant a rental property will attract. Gone are the days that advertising the words “swimming pool” was enough to woo high-calibre tenants away from the competition. Today’s discerning renters want the types of services and features once reserved for upscale hotels.
And just as no two amenities are exactly alike, nor will they attract the same demographic. While an apartment offering larger units and a shaded outdoor play structure will no doubt catch the eye of families with young children, a modern tower featuring a swanky roof-top lounge and yoga room will attract a fleet of young urban professionals.
As Jason Turcotte, vice-president of development at Cressey, points out: there are two demographics largely pushing today’s renewed interest in purpose-built rentals—and, interestingly, they’re at opposite ends of the age spectrum. “First there are the Millennials who have high expectations of everything and aren’t willing to wait or compromise. On the flip side is the older demographic who have realized huge gains from selling their family home but don’t want to reinvest all of it into a condo. They’d rather travel, relax and keep their options open.”
So, whether you’re a landlord looking to attract a tenant base of mostly tech-savvy Millennials, or a developer planning a new building aimed at service-seeking Baby Boomers, here are some of the year’s most popular amenities:
The integration of party rooms in apartment buildings is nothing new, although now they are a requisite for attracting tenants of all ages. The term ‘party room’ generally refers to a private, self-equipped space available for tenants to reserve in advance of their own special event. Depending on the building, these rooms can be rather spacious and offer an array of additional services – although most party rooms today feature audio visual systems, food and beverage prep stations and en-suite washrooms.
Rooftop gardens and terraces are increasingly popular, coinciding with the demand for green space and communal cooking areas. What used to be considered unusable space now offers a range of fantastic benefits without adding a lot of extra cost to build or maintain. Some rooftop gardens offer panoramic views of the city; are equipped with BBQs, hot tubs and outdoor patio furniture. Best of all, these amenities do wonders to help make a 600-square-foot unit feel like a luxury mansion.
Workout rooms and fitness centres
Fitness rooms are a mainstay amenity at this point. Gym equipment technology has certainly evolved, and a room with only a few hundred square feet can serve the purpose of a private gym. While many buildings have basic options, modern buildings have much more impressive fitness setups, including basketball courts, yoga and spin rooms. Buildings targeting older tenants will certainly benefit from offering specialized fitness classes. One new residential development near Liberty Village recently announced it will be equipped with a running track on the 2nd floor.
The resurgence of the doorman is a real trend these days with Baby Boomers and Millennials both showing a preference for buildings with an active front desk. Not only is it great for security, but it also adds a personal touch. Several new buildings are incorporating a concierge desk into their lobbies – although some are opting for the digital kind; that is, cameras to monitor who comes through the door, and can even react in real-time.
Who wouldn’t want access to their own private movie theatre with high-end screens and enough reclining chairs to accommodate up to a dozen guests? Particularly in the downtown core, theatre rooms are increasingly common…and impressive. Certain buildings even boast high quality stereo systems that can make watching ‘a movie at home’ a whole new experience.
Energy efficient appliances
Although we generally think of amenities as communal spaces offered throughout a building, amenities can also include specific features that help enhance the tenant experience within their units. For many renters, knowing whether their building is individually metered matters a lot more than whether there is a steam room located next to the fitness centre. Energy efficiency is a huge factor driving today’s renters and they will certainly seek out those apartments equipped with windows, appliances and systems built with efficiency in mind.
Extravagant or wasteful? You decide!
Builders and developers have always used amenities to woo new tenants. In recent years, as tenants’ needs have shifted and technology has evolved, we’ve seen some unique new services and features enter the amenities space: rock climbing walls, dog washing stations, cold lockers and wine sellers being just a few. Although these ‘niche’ amenities aren’t found in every building, and some tenants dismiss them as wasteful or extravagant, others would argue that a fenced-in dog enclosure is integral to their existence.
With the exorbitant price of real estate forcing families to rent longer, people are in need of features that support their stage of life. A decade ago, you likely wouldn’t have seen apartments featuring daycare centres and play rooms; today outdoor play spaces are becoming increasingly common.
All types of tenants today want their abodes equipped with Wifi, but soon it will require so much more than that. As the Internet of Things continues to expand so does the list of high tech amenities. Luxury items that make our lives easier are highly sought after, and technological advancements are making them so much easier to come by.
With mobile technology changing the way we work, tenants driven by “work-life balance” will no doubt be seeking co-working spaces in their apartment buildings. Several high-end condos are already equipped with these modern, comfortable office rooms so that mobile tenants can punch in and out on their own terms. The recent surge in the number of shared office spaces in the downtown core is an indication of how in-demand this amenity will be.
Imagine telling your kids about old street lights and crosswalks that didn’t react in real- time to traffic signals, or adjust to traffic flow – that they just ran on a timed system? While this may not be the most interesting conversation to have, enhanced infrastructure in buildings of the future will integrate with bike and pedestrian-friendly streets – “smart streets” that react in real-time and monitor pedestrian behaviour. While that may include some advertisements here or there, the technological advancements offered by monitoring such information will be truly remarkable.
As development surges across our cities, one thing is certain: we can all anticipate some fantastic new amenities designed to suit our unique ages and stages. The bar is high, and it will only get higher.
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