2016 MFE AwardsBest Amenity: MeritAVA BrewAvalonBay Communities
AvalonBay Communities AVA Brew

In 2001, the Downtown Brooklyn Special Purpose Zoning District implemented a new restriction requiring that street frontage for residential lobbies be less than 30 feet or 50% of the building frontage. That’s when Arlington, Va.–based development firm AvalonBay decided to get creative with the lobby of its AVA DoBro apartment building in Brooklyn, N.Y., which required enough space for residents of the 500-unit structure to come and go.

The zoning requirement mandated retail continuity along street fronts, so AvalonBay partnered with local coffee roaster Pushcart Coffee to create AVA Brew, a publicly accessible coffee shop and beer and wine bar located on the ground floor of the building. The 1,000-square-foot space serves South American fair trade coffee and local selections of beer and wine to both building residents and Brooklyn commuters and community members, and can be accessed from entrances in the lobby or at the street. The café seeks to keep residents connected to the building by giving them a local neighborhood coffee spot right downstairs.

The café is also equipped with smart screens with interactive touch display showing times for subway trains—the Jay Street-MetroTech Subway station is also located at the entrance to the building—and the latest news. As well, the coffee shop connects non-AVA residents with the property’s leasing office, also located in the lobby.

Pushcart Coffee pays a base rent to use the space, and AvalonBay receives a portion of the gross profits after a fixed number of the café’s sales has been reached.