An affordable, urban lifestyle on Washington, D.C.’s H Street corridor will be the main draw for residents at AVA H Street, AvalonBay’s latest project. That doesn’t mean the community—aimed specifically at Gen Y renters—will skimp on amenities and common areas. But those features will tend to be of a more compact, condensed design, says Jonathan Cox, AvalonBay’s vice president of development.
“The overall driver here is that the amenity is the neighborhood,” he says. “The idea [of AVA] is to put communities in where it’s a very walkable environment, where residents are moving there because they like the neighborhood, but also because the profile is price sensitive. One of the ways to do that is to shrink amenity areas.”
Apartment units will also be smaller to address that price sensitivity. So Avalon is putting the most emphasis on common area gathering spaces.
AVA H Street will feature an open-style lobby with outdoor and indoor seating areas bleeding into each other, a scheme followed by other AVA brand properties in California. But D.C.’s climate isn’t exactly Californian, so H Street’s spaces will be continuous through doors and glass instead. And while outdoor televisions might be a good fit for a Mediterranean climate, they aren’t suitable for D.C., either. So that amenity will be replaced with a massive screen in the property’s lobby, featuring moving, electronic artwork during the day and multiple television screens equipped with Wii available to residents at night.
But some amenities are invisible. Wi-Fi access will be available in all common areas, both indoors and out, and residents will be able to connect to common area printers from their personal computers.
The “Third” Place
The open-style lobby was created as that “third place”—a community planning concept aimed particularly at Gen Y. A third place is a space that’s distinct from work and home and offers an informal, social setting, a community anchor that fosters interaction.
“It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and easy for residents to stop and get mail and then maybe sit and work on their laptop for 30 minutes before going upstairs,” Cox says.
Other tech-focused amenities include iPod docking stations throughout the property, including by outdoor grilling stations, for residents to entertain with their own music. And an electronic board will hang above the mailroom, with both personal and communal info-- showing notifications about newly received packages, for instance, or announcements of community events. The fitness center will be first class, but simple, which will keep overall building costs, and rents, down. This approach will be more than offset by the rich neighborhood amenities in the immediate vicinity. “By putting the property in a great neighborhood, you don’t need all the accoutrements of a Class A apartment property,” Cox says.