No matter what town you live in, you know where the “cool” part of town is. These areas are usually pretty easy to spot, they have lots of restaurants, bars, shops and, in normal times, lots of people in the streets. They also tend to have a certain character, be it funky, artsy, posh or otherwise. Much like a brand, this character can become rather valuable, it will make people buy things they normally wouldn’t, wait in line for a new dish or pay a small fortune for a craft cocktail.
This value of cool goes beyond retail, it also flows to the real estate market. A few years ago we examined the boost in property value that was associated with Venice Beach’s Abbot Kinney Blvd., voted “America’s Coolest Street.” If you have never been there just imagine a long street dotted with flagship stores for counter-culture brands, street art, and of course a non-stop rotation of influencers shooting their Instagram videos. By looking at the rise in the price of both commercial property leases and sales and comparing them to the greater Los Angeles area as a whole, it was rather easy to see the value of “cool.”
Being cool seems to transcend time, every era has reverence for the people, places, and things that it considers cool. Even a global pandemic isn’t enough to diminish the importance of cool. Many travel influencers (the young generation’s definition of a cool job) have been able to change their affiliate marketing tactics to encourage people to buy things like online therapy, showing how they are still able to cash in on their cool even though they are stuck at home without a beach to pose on.
But, while COVID-19 hasn’t affected the power of cool, it has certainly changed its location. With bars and indoor dining still prohibited in many parts of the country, people are doing their best to bring the hip street life into their homes. Many trendy restaurants have partnered with delivery apps to allow people to have their favorite dish at their dining room table. Hip retailers have stepped up their social media game to give people the allure of window shopping from their couch. Fitness centers even stream workouts so people can get their sweat on from the makeshift workout areas created in their living rooms.
Apartments and housing complexes can benefit from the new location of cool. The ability to bring the outside world in is a hugely important factor for most tenants. Having the ability to safely and easily have food delivered, entertain guests in a common area, or easily watch their favorite live stream is an important factor in the COVID era. This puts extra strains on a building’s technology but highlights the need for apartment customization. Residents want to be able to turn their home into an office or a restaurant or a gym or a spa with the push of a button.
For the last few months our homes have been our world. Many are realizing the importance of having a place to live that makes you feel as cool as your favorite shopping district. For those that are looking to move somewhere cooler, self guided tours are a great way to both make the process easier and showcase the kind of technologies the prospect can expect if they decide to sign a new lease.
The hardest thing about creating cool is that it is always changing and it is different for all of us. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating cool living spaces or amenities. But the same digital technologies that are creating these cool spaces are also able to inform landlords and property managers exactly what their tenants think is cool. As the pandemic (hopefully) subsides we will see if things like fitness centers and pools still have the same kind of draw they did before. Having tenant interactions with a property recorded will help inform buildings on what the next generation of cool will look like. Coolness, it turns out, is a bit like energy, it is neither created or destroyed but merely changes forms.