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Multifamily Trends Toward Amenities

The race to lease Austin's high-end apartment projects continues to be driven by amenities over space, according to a panel at Bisnow's Future of Multifamily event in Austin Tuesday. 

The race to lease Austin's high-apartment projects continues to be driven by amenities over space. The size of the apartments, in most cases, grows smaller. The drive for the newer, cooler and hipper amenity grows bigger. "Basically, we've taken amenities and put them on steroids," said Managing Director Matt Enzler of Trammell Crow. "Ten years ago, you had a pet way station in the corner of your apartment. Now you have dog runs and dog parks and shaded areas for the people who watch the dogs run."

Read more at: https://www.bisnow.com/preview_story/79073?utm_source=CopyShare&utm_medium=Browser
The race to lease Austin's high-apartment projects continues to be driven by amenities over space. The size of the apartments, in most cases, grows smaller. The drive for the newer, cooler and hipper amenity grows bigger. "Basically, we've taken amenities and put them on steroids," said Managing Director Matt Enzler of Trammell Crow. "Ten years ago, you had a pet way station in the corner of your apartment. Now you have dog runs and dog parks and shaded areas for the people who watch the dogs run."

Read more at: https://www.bisnow.com/preview_story/79073?utm_source=CopyShare&utm_medium=Browser
Multifamily Trends Toward Amenities
ARA’s Pat Jones, FXfit’s Shawn Martinez, Stillwater Capital’s Brandon Easterling, Mill Creek Residential’s Jeb Cox, AMLI’s Marcy Phillips and Trammell Crow Residential’s Matt Enzler at Bisnow's Austin Multifamily 2017 event

The size of the apartments, in most cases, grows smaller. The drive for the newer, cooler and hipper amenity grows bigger.

"Basically, we've taken amenities and put them on steroids," Trammell Crow Residential Managing Director Matt Enzler said. "Ten years ago, you had a pet way station in the corner of your apartment project. Now you have dog runs and dog parks and shaded areas for the people who watch the dogs run."

For AMLI, the goal is campus community, Vice President of Development Marcy Phillips said. AMLI was an early adopter of "place" in Austin, setting down roots Downtown and on South Lamar before many developers found Austin. The latest project is AMLI on Aldrich, which leverages Mueller's family-friendly vibe and established retail base, as well as its pro-sustainability mindset. 

"One thing that stands out for us is AMLI's commitment to sustainable living," Phillips said, adding that AMLI hit LEED Platinum on its first phase in Mueller. "It's important for us that many of our communities are sustainable. We think many of our residents think that's important. We think that's important."

Multifamily Trends Toward Amenities
Stillwater Capital's Brandon Easterling speaking at Bisnow's Austin Multifamily 2017 event

A lot of amenities are standard for newer properties in Austin: keyless entry, professional fitness studios, technology packages and rooftop decks. Brandon Easterling, who just joined Stillwater Capital, said it is likely a co-working space would be worked into future Austin projects.

"That's just a nod to how many young people are traveling and not going into the office every day, or every week," Easterling said. "We're going to create a co-working space within the property, outside the clubhouse, right next to the fitness area. It will be completely WiFi, have cable, all the amenities."

People also like activity space, Phillips said. People moving out of houses and into apartments still want space for activities like woodworking or craft brewing, Phillips said.

Multifamily Trends Toward Amenities
Gym fitness classes

The one must-have everyone agreed was necessary was a package room. The rise of Amazon means most residents will receive boxes multiple times during the week. Most newer apartments complexes will have a service such as Luxer One, which automatically texts a resident when a package arrives.

"It's just going to be a given we're going to be putting in a packaging system," Mill Creek Residential Managing Director Jeb Cox said. "Grocery delivery is getting popular, too."

FXfit's Shawn Martinez starts working with his partner apartment complexes a year before construction starts. His goal is the perfect gym. The gym can serve before residential and retail traffic, offer classes and provide WiFi. More likely than not, those who arrive will carry their own entertainment or be using an app that tracks their progress in the gym.

Ten years ago, an apartment complex could install a couple of treadmills and call it a day, Martinez said. These days, people want kettlebells. They want squat racks. The use of fitness staff is evolving, Martinez said. Sometimes the best way to use staff is to have them on-site, to assist. In other cases, the addition of a fitness class can be a strong retention tool for current residents up for renewal.

Multifamily Trends Toward Amenities
Ride-share app

Then there is the parking garage, the ultimate amenity for apartment living. As the price of land and development rises in Austin — and resident preferences change — space will likely shrink from the traditional parking garage.

"Are we going to need two spots per unit?" Strama asked."Or we going to find that's not necessary as millennials migrate away from car ownership? Or as ridesharing becomes more popular in dense urban areas? Or, eventually, as we turn to self-driving cars?"

Developers are starting to build parking spaces for Car2Go and Zipcars. Expect to see fee-based bike racks, and even ride-share waiting areas, to become more common in newer projects. That is only likely to increase as fewer millennials rush to get their driver's licenses.

Multifamily Trends Toward Amenities
Google Fiber's Mark Strama

Google Fiber's Mark Strama noted three areas of current innovation: cars, shopping and connectivity. Dial-up internet service — as quaint as it seems now — was transformational in its time. The same could be said about broadband. Soon, fiber lines to the customer in Austin eventually will have the same sort of impact, expanding the capabilities and uses of technology.

"How will people use all that speed? It remains to be seen," Strama said. "We have seen, in the early days of this transition, something like the one guy who has the fax machine, when he didn't have anyone to send the fax to. When a few people have fiber connectivity, they have better internet service than anybody else, but they're doing the same things, just with less friction."

But when a bunch of people have that same service, that is when the ability to leverage the platform for new uses will occur, Strama said. Dial-up users never imagined the internet would be used one day for Netflix and YouTube. When a critical mass of consumers uses high-speed fiber, new uses will emerge.