Article Courtesy of InsideBiz.com http://insidebiz.com/news/whatsahead2014/2014-whats-ahead-multifamily-real-estate-0
W. Taylor Franklin
President and COO
The Franklin Johnston Group
When we look at the past decade of multifamily housing development, we see a distinct shift in community amenities.
In 2003, important amenities were resort-style pools and gated access. In 2013, the must-have features included stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, ceramic tile and 9-foot vaulted ceilings. Previous 300-square-foot gym areas are now 2,000-square-foot fitness centers featuring equipment that can be linked to your social media accounts. You also saw appliances, lighting, and heating and cooling systems that were energy-efficient.
But if this is the trend, and all of your competitors are following suit, then the question is how do you set yourself apart in this competitive market? The need to provide a home was the idea in 2003, but now providing a lifestyle is of utmost importance.
Our most recent development, Spring Water Apartments in Virginia Beach, opened its doors for business in 2013 and the amenities there are our most creative to date. The idea of a resort-style pool is complemented with a cabana, day beds and fire pits. The fitness center has an extra wing that includes a tanning bed and massage parlor. This is important because in today’s economy, our customers are asking, “What am I getting extra?” And the amenity packages of 2003 are just the basics of every community, not options.
Spring Water also has, what I feel to be, the coolest amenity among our portfolio to date. The clubhouse features a full two-lane bowling alley for residents to use daily. The inspiration came from a condominium development in New York City. It was different and would give us a competitive edge in our market. Simply adding an amenity like this bowling alley only adds roughly $200,000 in overall development cost and would not break the deal at hand.
But in return, you have a show-stopper that adds more value to the community. Deciding on what amenities to include does depend on location, but more importantly, it is about finding your niche and I am confident we did just that.
In the next decade, we can expect to see continuous trends moving from the west to the east. We will look to the larger cities like Miami, Dallas and Los Angeles for ideas and inspiration. We believe that providing a lifestyle is a direct reflection of our company culture and we intend to continue taking our ideas to a whole new level with each and every development.