Forget stale business centers and run-of-the-mill gyms. Today’s hottest and most in-demand apartment amenities are all about providing space for creative expression, creating opportunities for social interaction, and taking the burden of routine chores out of renters’ hands. “Rents are skyrocketing and operators are looking for services to justify higher rents,” said Everett Lynn, founder & CEO of Amenify, a tech platform that provides services like car washing and mobile pet grooming for multifamily renters. “It’s interesting, people often think when rents are high people don’t innovate, but actually, that’s when they have to do more.” Here’s what multifamily experts say are the most popular amenities in apartment buildings at the moment.
Social media and “maker” rooms
These days, it seems like everyone is a creator—-whether it’s a day job, side hustle, or just for fun. Operators have taken notice and are starting to add specific areas in amenity and co-working spaces for tenants to record podcasts and videos. Ximena Rodriguez, principal & director of interior design at the New York City-based architecture firm CetraRuddy, said these small private rooms often have green screens as well. “They’re not big spaces, but they give people flexibility and the opportunity to come back home and do a quick video or record something, it may be something they aren’t able to do at home so easily,” she said. Similar “maker” rooms are also being included more in projects that offer private space for creatives to work on their craft—whether it’s rehearsing with their band or working on a painting. “It’s about that sense of well-being and doing something that connects people to their creative side,” Rodriguez said. There’s even a growing trend of adding spaces for renters to play e-sports in a social environment. “Even though they’re playing on the computer by themselves, they like to be together in the same room and people even come and watch, that’s starting to appear,” she said.
After the isolating experience of the pandemic, sports facilities are bigger than ever in multifamily, especially Pickleball courts. Pickleball, first created in the 1960s, has exploded in popularity since 2020, and apartment developers are getting in on the trend. “Pickleball is the new thing that everyone wants to try and incorporate in buildings,” Rodriguez said. Basketball courts are also very popular at the moment as well, no matter how much space a property may have. “It’s always a challenge because of the size, but even if you can get in just a half court, that’s also very good,” she said. Just in case Pickleball does ever fall out of favor, it’s worth considering adding flexibility into the design so it can be easily changed into something else.
Pet ownership shot up during the pandemic, which has led to big demand for pet services in apartment communities. With more workers going back to the office, there has also been more demand for dog walking and pet sitting services. Some luxury buildings now have in-house daycare for dogs, training services and even heated dog runs for colder months. Pet spas and dog runs are becoming more common in residential buildings, and they also offer an added social aspect. “It’s not only people taking their dog out but a place where people can connect,” Rodriguez said, suggesting developers could add seating areas that encourage interaction with other pet owners. “We think about how you can make it a nice place where you can wait and hang out while your dog plays, and talk to someone else.”
Anything an operator can do that goes above and beyond the typical building amenities can be a huge selling point for renters. Mobile and concierge services that can help renters save time and effort by taking the burden of everyday chores off their hands are proving to be popular among renters, according to Amenify’s Lynn. “People want time back, they want experiences and for things to be easy and brought to them,” Lynn said. The most in-demand services his company provides through its platform right now are mobile car wash services that even offer an eco-friendly waterless option, and mobile pet grooming services. Other common services offered by apartment building concierge services include things like booking restaurant and travel accommodations, dry cleaning pick up and delivery, and even chartering yachts.
Health and wellness has been a buzzword phrase over the last two years in the multifamily sector, and developers have been taking note. It’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Not only are amenities geared toward health and wellness popular with renters, they are also proven to command higher rents, according to a recent study. “Health and wellness has evolved and it’s not just about having a fitness room anymore,” Rodriguez said. Some of the popular features she’s seeing are private fitness studios, designated spaces where residents can mediate and have therapy sessions, saunas, and outdoor green space, something that has become “very, very valuable” in residential buildings. While lawn areas are a good way for residents to interact and socialize, creating a separate area for solo time like a zen garden can add value as well, Rodriguez said.