The new generation of renter is looking for amenities that extend beyond their own apartment and into shared and common spaces. What does this mean for the Multi-family industry? To keep units filled, multifamily properties need to respond to this new demand and keep “community” in mind when renovating existing spaces and designing new ones.
To meet these new demands, common use amenities like lobbies, laundry rooms and recreational areas should be designed for multi-use and to encourage community connectivity. For example, a space that serves as a leasing office by day that can be converted to a shared common room after hours. This space should have lightweight and easy to move furniture that residents can arrange for small gatherings or large events for many people. In designing these multi-use spaces, materials should be chosen with durability as a priority. Fabrics and floor coverings need to hold up to greater wear and tear without looking worn or used.
Real estate start up Common, has taken the concept of providing amenities intended to build a greater sense of community in multifamily living to an entirely new level by creating Coliving “homes, ” a shared-living concept similar to boarding houses popular in cities during the Industrial Revolution and the early 20th century. Co-living offers residents reduced rents in desirable, typically high cost, urban areas for a substantially reduced monthly rate. The monthly rent gets residents a bedroom, not an individual apartment. For many residents, common living rooms and kitchens and shared baths are the trade-offs for otherwise unaffordable rent. However, for others, this isn’t a trade-off, it’s a choice for a unique lifestyle and culture and the reduced rent is an additional bonus.
The biggest challenge with creating Coliving spaces is convincing developers to design buildings for this concept and purpose. The floor plans aren’t consistent with traditional multifamily properties. Sterling Jawitz, the head of real estate strategic partnerships at Common says “When we design our projects and work with developers from the beginning, whether it’s a ground-up development or rehab or adaptive reuse, we try to be very cognizant and respectful of the fact that we’re asking them to build something that is maybe not as typical as you would see in the market with studio and one- or two-bedroom units.”
Given Denver’s housing shortage and extremely tight rental market, maybe it’s time for developers to take a risk and consider creating spaces that offer renters seeking a different housing culture a place to create this new type of community?
At the very least, multifamily properties should consider using a local company like Denver’s Stonebridge Builders, to design, remodel and/or renovate existing common areas for greater flexibility, multiple-uses and to appeal to the new renter looking for amenities that extend beyond the 4 walls of their own individual unit.