Just like any other aspect of urban real estate, you know your rooftop amenities and outdoor living experiences should evolve alongside market trends. It’s important to be mindful of the current trends in order to make your rooftop amenities as much of a draw as possible to today’s potential occupants.
However, just because you see a trend in the market doesn’t mean it is universal or has staying power. The 24 hour news cycle soundbites that fill the internet lack perspective and frequently blow things out of proportion. These narratives give disproportionate attention to trendy, hot-ticket items but don’t always tell the full story. It’s not that you shouldn’t keep up to date with contemporary amenity design. It’s simply a mistake to chase the latest trends without question and blindly follow what’s fashionable instead of actually understanding what your residents want at a specific property.
Trend chasing isn’t a reliable strategy — especially for developers invested in creating standout projects. When all placemakers do the same thing, we create cookie cutter places that can’t ever deliver outstanding results.
Combine Trendy Features with Sound Design Principles
Following all the latest trends leads to sameness and going all in on one or two of the latest features can easily flop. So instead of relying on solely trendy amenities to sell your project and bolster retention, let sound design principles dictate your strategy.
What exactly does that mean? Consider this example:
Let’s say you’re developing amenities for student housing. You’re hearing that the flashy and fun amenities tailored toward the Millennial generation are on their way out. Gen Z is a more serious bunch, you’re told, and they primarily want places to study with high-speed internet and more practical, education-oriented spaces.
So you downplay your pool and clubhouse, or maybe remove them altogether. In their place you provide study rooms and work areas. If your Gen Z residents want to socialize, have fun, or be outside, you reason, they certainly aren’t going to want to stay at their apartment!
But all you’ve done is create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your residents don’t spend time socializing with each other and they don’t make friends within their apartment community. A few students study solo in the expansive study areas you provided, but only on the days they have online classes and have no need to make it to campus, where most of their studying is done. Evenings are eerily quiet.
The study-focused amenities were not a homerun. What went wrong?
The focus was studying and not student life.
A successful apartment community serves a particular lifestyle, and college students (even Gen Z) are as social a demographic as they come. An amenity package focused on fundamental design principles doesn’t just produce study areas, but comfortable, livable spaces where people want to be. Spaces of different scales, with flexible programming (which would include some great locations for studying). Instead of going all in on one flash-in-the-pan “trend,” these principles accommodate longer generational trends and build community. Individual residents are not one-dimensional. Their apartments shouldn’t be either.
If You Want To Develop Something Trendy, Do It Right
Sometimes that trendy feature you keep hearing about really is something your residents want. But realize it’s never going to be the silver bullet it’s been made out to be. Remember that what you are ultimately selling is a lifestyle with outstanding experiences.
With the right expectations and proper execution of the space, trendy amenity features will absolutely be a homerun. But you’ll have to fully commit. For example:
Your competing property across the street is renowned for its rooftop infinity edge pool. 90 feet in the air, it boasts uninterrupted views of the downtown skyline. It’s the envy of every multifamily development in the city.
So to stay competitive, you want to check the box for “rooftop pool” in your potential resident’s mind. But, the infinity edge seems really expensive so you don’t go through with that. Then, you’ll be able to add a couple units if you orient the pool away from downtown. So you do that too.
You have a trendy rooftop pool, but when it’s built it is still nothing compared to the property next door. You forgot the cabanas, so there’s no shade. Your clubhouse isn’t on the same floor, so people forget that the pool exists. Or they get lost trying to find it. It never becomes a very big selling point. You realize that you have created an entirely different – and inferior – experience.
Be thorough with design and determine what is actually viable for your property. Then follow through with the idea and hit it out of the park.
Trendy ≠ Successful
As the above examples demonstrate, being trendy doesn’t always amount to success with rooftop amenities and outdoor living experiences. While your amenities can be informed by trends, they should be governed by design principles. They should be executed to the highest level of quality, not just tacked on to check the box. The more a particular amenity gets cut and pasted across all the multifamily developments in the country, the less prominence it holds in the minds of your prospective residents. At some point it becomes an expectation, not a perk (think BBQ grills).
Most importantly, create spaces that feel right and function, ones that are built to fit a particular lifestyle and offer a way for residents to connect with each other in natural ways.
Separating the passing trends from a solid design can be challenging. Loft Six Four has experience helping our clients determine the best, most successful amenities for each of their unique properties. Let’s talk about how we can make your next project stand out and resonate with your future tenants.