The COVID-19 pandemic has altered many renters’ lifestyles, and multifamily developers and owners have responded through their amenity offerings—from connectivity and additional co-working space for the work-from-home crowd to enhanced fitness spaces for health and wellness.
Multifamily Executive caught up with several multifamily developers and owners—including Lissette Calderon, CEO of Neology Life Development Group; David Hovey Jr., AIA, president of Optima, Inc.; and Stuart Zook, principal and chief Investment officer at Monument Capital Management, an A-Rod Corp company—to see what’s new in their communities and how they are pivoting their amenities to meet renters’ needs and wants.
MFE: What’s the must-have indoor amenity for your multifamily communities in 2022?
Calderon: Complete holistic wellness amenities that support both physical and mental well-being.
Hovey: At Optima Lakeview, our newest luxury apartment opening in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood in spring 2022, our signature indoor amenities—full-size basketball courts and golf simulators—will be featured prominently. Both amenities have been in such heavy use by residents at our other buildings that we even created special programming around them, including basketball and golf tournaments, which have allowed our residents to engage with one another while they get a workout.
Optima is consistently working on enhancing our indoor amenities as we activate our properties with current fitness trends. For example, we’ve already added pickleball striping and netting for use on the indoor basketball courts across our multifamily portfolio in Chicago and Scottsdale, Arizona. Optima Lakeview residents will also have access to a 2,000-square-foot heated dog park and a children’s play area for families and residents with pets.
Zook: We developed Grand Station [in downtown Miami] with very robust indoor and outdoor amenities. As to the must-have indoor amenity, as an urban downtown property, the young professionals who lease from us want spa-like amenities—lots of them. I would say that the state-of-the-art fitness center needs more than cardio machines and weights—something truly compelling, as we have done with TRX bands, boxing bags, and a sled push, is crucial. Many residents have forgone their gym memberships; this amenity needs to take its place without disappointment.
MFE: Are you planning to introduce any new indoor amenities at your properties in 2022?
Calderon: As a lifestyle-driven company, Neology’s residential properties have always been highly amenitized, but we’ve recently debuted on-demand virtual fitness classes, added dog spas to existing dog parks, and added more dedicated space for co-working. Our recently opened No. 17 Residences in Allapattah in Miami features a wellness center with strength, cardio, and core equipment, along with on-demand and personalized virtual fitness classes and programs. Moving forward, we may also incorporate meditation rooms/gardens and yoga rooms.
Hovey: Our communities celebrate the fundamental connection between design and nature, and Optima Lakeview’s design will reflect that with a striking atrium that runs through the core of the seven-story building. The building’s two-story fitness center will feel especially spacious given that it will be flooded with natural light from the atrium. This design also allows us to spread out equipment and encourages good air flow, which will add to the wellness aspect for our residents.
Zook: The building has only been open for a few months, so we are very proud of our offerings. However, in our older properties we are looking at repurposing laundry rooms and club rooms to accommodate additional resident workspaces.
MFE: How has the pandemic altered indoor amenities for the long term?
Calderon: 2020 and the pandemic heightened awareness of the value of healthy living, so holistic, wellness-oriented amenities are a must-have. More residents are working from home than ever before as well, so amenities that help them achieve work-life blend and balance are also important.
Hovey: During the pandemic we implemented the ability for residents to reserve indoor amenities using each property’s custom mobile app. Our residents seem to really appreciate this offering as they can plan their schedules accordingly, so we’ll continue to keep this in place.
Optima Lakeview’s design process occurred during the pandemic, so we chose to arrange amenities throughout the atrium at different levels of the building, allowing residents to take advantage of all the spaces without having to congregate in one space. And given the importance of fresh air and outdoor space, we also designed the sky deck for year-round use, with additional fire pits, fire tables, heaters, and equipment to keep the pool and spa heated all year.
Zook: The blended work environment is here to stay. That said, people got tired of working and living in their apartments. While South Florida certainly offers year-round outdoor opportunities, it was clear to us that demand for a full range of indoor amenities was crucial. To that end, beyond the state-of-the-art fitness center noted above, our amenities deck includes wellness treatment and spa rooms with an indoor heated soaking pool; a clubroom, an indoor/outdoor spa; a dog spa; a pet station; and a business center.
MFE: How are you supporting your work-from-home residents with your amenity packages?
Calderon: In addition to co-working spaces and wellness-oriented amenities, we have Wi-Fi in all public spaces, including the pool deck, gardens, etc., to give countless options of places where our residents can work.
Hovey: When our 198-unit Optima Lakeview luxury apartment community opens, it will be the first North American residential development to earn a WiredScore Gold rating for digital connectivity. The WiredScore Home global digital connectivity rating system is a smart building certification that clearly communicates to residents about the level of service they can expect in their home.
Optima Lakeview raises the bar of work-from-home offerings with two wired conference rooms and a business center, plus the flexibility to work from any amenity space seamlessly with strong connectivity.
Our units also feature larger floor plans with niches for a dedicated workspace, including some units with built-in desks.
Zook: Our perspective is that residents should feel like they have incredible experiences within steps of their apartment. We have also been thoughtful about creating areas where residents can gather and experience a sense of community, which can feel lost [with a work-from-home] environment, while still social distancing.
MFE: What’s your top strategy for managing your indoor amenities?
Hovey: Optima communities will continue leveraging amenity reservation software so residents can easily reserve space using an app.
Our strategy is, and will continue to be, enhancing design so residents will feel comfortable in our indoor amenity spaces. At Optima Lakeview, our amenity spaces are designed as an extension of residents’ homes, so we encourage them to work or enjoy downtime in any of the six amenity levels, watch their favorite show or catch a game on one of the 23 common-area TVs, or start their day—or afternoon—with a cup of coffee using one of our complimentary coffee makers.
We design these spaces to be inviting and comfortable, while at the same time functional and flexible, so residents can truly enjoy them. For example, our communities feature a chef’s kitchen for their personal use while we also plan programming for residents to enjoy catered meals prepared on-site by outside chefs via our Pear Chef offering. Or they can use the mobile app to order a private chef to cook a meal for friends, or order a home-cooked meal to savor themselves.
Zook: We want our residents to feel comfortable that these are not only top-tier amenities, but that all facets of their safety are being considered. The amenities are being utilized, which is a testament to the trust that has been placed in us. We maintain a strict schedule for cleaning and maintenance.