In urban settings across the country, the residential landscape is evolving to respond to the priorities and preferences of a population that’s increasingly focused on multifamily options that emphasize amenities, conveniences, and social engagement.
Millennials and empty-nesters alike share an affinity for services and socialization options designed to suit their lifestyles. At a time when more and more people are moving back to cities and urban settings, drawn in part by the dynamism and immediacy of a live/work/play environment, residential projects that can meet those needs are experiencing great success and—in many markets—contributing to a larger urban/civic renaissance.
These lifestyle community–based multifamily developments have sprung up in cities across the country, including Detroit. Two projects there—The Scott at Brush Park and The Albert at Capitol Park, both developed by Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services—are bringing the trend to a city that has lagged somewhat behind this emerging national design focus.
The five-story, $65 million, mixed-use Scott at Brush Park, which opens Dec. 1, features 199 luxury residences and approximately 15,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and restaurant space. The historic Albert at Capitol Park is a residential-above-retail renovation of the 12-story Griswold Building in Detroit’s Capitol Park neighborhood. The 127-unit, luxury project’s renovated building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Amenities are central to both The Albert and The Scott. The Scott, for example, offers a suite of amenities and special services that includes a 24-hour health and fitness center, a pet grooming station and “bark park,” a residents’ kitchen and lounge area, a private reading room/library space, a conference center, secure bike storage, a 300-space private underground parking deck, and community green space. A second-floor outdoor pool terrace features lounge areas, an outdoor kitchen, a spa, a large swimming pool, and a hot tub and fireplaces. Residents can also take advantage of extras such as 24/7 concierge service, secure package pickup, and door-to-door dry cleaning pickup and delivery.
Understanding why these new community lifestyle residences are so popular begins with an appreciation for why they appeal to the influential and much-discussed millennial demographic. Millennials tend to be social, and they value opportunities for social engagement. That’s why The Scott has a full-time lifestyle coordinator. At a time when apartments are getting smaller, having access to spacious areas for big gatherings and to high-quality programmed public gathering places, in or adjacent to your building, is a big deal.
Another innovation some lifestyle projects are deploying to great effect is social programming that extends beyond the confines of the building itself. At projects like these, some special events take place off-site at venues in the surrounding community, with building management acting as a sponsor and/or event coordinator.
Detroit developers have visited cities such as Atlanta; Minneapolis; Chicago; Nashville,Tenn.; and Austin, Texas, to learn from and be inspired by their successful community lifestyle residences. From a developer’s perspective, executing such requires a nuanced understanding of what makes community lifestyle projects tick.
Go above and beyond
The best lifestyle multifamily communities offer finishes, amenities, facilities, spaces, and experiences that are simply not available at more-traditional multifamily residences. Lifestyle living is about more than simply having a token exercise facility, for example: You need a workout facility that has the right layout, high-quality equipment, and sufficient space to offer a true “gym quality” experience.
Accommodate your clients
Know your customer. Recognize, for example, that this is a demographic many of whom either have or want, so dog grooming stations and pet walking services are a good fit. Needless to say, things like bicycle storage are also a must-have.
Identify partners to help with events
Community partners can be enormously helpful, and owners and managers should cultivate relationships and opportunities for special events and facilities off-site with such third parties. The result, when executed correctly, can be a dynamic social scene for residents that’s enhanced by branded events and memorable opportunities. This type of program takes a lot of effort to get rolling on the front end, but once in place it can be a valuable and self-sustaining long-term asset.
Perform ‘next-level’ property management
There are some challenges and complications on the property management side when it comes to creating and maintaining a lifestyle community. Noise levels must be monitored during property social gatherings, for example. However, these issues are relatively modest in the grand scheme of things. Be aware that experienced and hands-on management will be required, but it will also be well worth the investment because your return will be the ability to offer guests a richer and more-experiential residential lifestyle.
Plan events extensively
A packed social calendar filled with special events doesn’t just happen—it takes conscious effort and consistent coordination. At projects like The Scott, a full-time on-site lifestyle coordinator plans, coordinates, and facilitates regular resident activities, events, and opportunities.
Invite and integrate resident feedback
It makes sense to seek out feedback from residents and work to be flexible and program around their stated preferences and priorities. Ultimately, creating a high-touch, high-service lifestyle community is about providing residents with services, events, and facilities that meet their needs. And there is no better place to find out what those needs are then to go right to the source.