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As Chicago Residents Migrate To The Suburbs, Multifamily Communities Rise To Meet Their Connectivity Needs


The coronavirus pandemic-driven work-from-home movement is changing where residents of the Windy City are choosing to live. Without the pressure to shorten their commute, many Chicago renters are leaving downtown Chicago and moving to the suburbs, drawn in by promises of lower rents and more space to accommodate working from home and remote learning.

Technology is what is making this move possible. Not only has it helped families maintain relationships during the pandemic, but high-performance solutions are also how residents connect remotely to work and school. Over the last several months, multifamily communities have morphed from places where residents unwind at the end of the day to the hubs of their daily lives. Work, school, entertainment, exercise — everything is being done online from home in response to the pandemic.

As a result, multifamily property owners and managers from downtown Chicago to the newly booming suburbs are taking steps to adapt and redesign their common living areas and amenities to accommodate the new normal, starting with adopting new internet services. A study by the National Multifamily Housing Council shows that residents want — and even demand — high-performance technologies, including access to WiFi connectivity throughout their communities.  

“Internet connectivity is no longer ‘a nice to have,’ it’s a must-have for residents who want to work at home, attend classes remotely or stream music or a movie,” said Elizabeth Williams, director of marketing at Tricap Residential Group. “With at least 75% of residents working from home on any given day, a strong network connection is critical.”

Tricap owns and manages the 550-unit Haven Hoffman Estates community located in Hoffman Estates, a northwest suburb of Chicago. Tricap has been renovating units there over the past year, upgrading everything from fixtures and finishes to technology.

Residents in the updated units now have a WiFi-ready solution that gives them simple, fast and easy access to the internet when they move in through pre-installed Xfinity WiFi gateways. Within minutes of connecting, residents select a service plan and activate their internet connection without waiting for additional equipment or a visit from a technician. 

“Moving can be stressful, especially during a pandemic,” Williams said. “When we surveyed our residents, we found that the relocation process is difficult for all families. We’re committed to making move-ins as low-stress as possible. To that end, having pre-installed internet gateways make it really easy for new residents to get their internet service up and running and takes a major to-do off their list.” 

This technology is not just for residents. Property managers also need a reliable and scalable internet solution throughout their properties. 

Even before the pandemic, Tricap was moving to a remote operations model, a trend that’s beginning to catch on across the multifamily industry.  

“High-performance technology is vital for our operations: It allows us to manage the property remotely. Only our maintenance staff is on-site,” Williams said. “Residents pay their rent, submit maintenance requests and interact with our managers via an online portal.” 

Many communities have closed their pools, clubhouses and other public areas due to the pandemic. Tricap has creatively reimagined Haven Hoffman Estates’ amenities and began offering virtual amenities, ranging from yoga classes to happy hours. These technology-driven amenities will become the new differentiator for residential properties. 

“Amenity spaces will have to evolve, as we seek new ways to create a sense of community in the context of the pandemic,” Williams said. “We’ll continue to offer coworking, study and other amenity spaces, but, at the same time, we’ll encourage social distancing. Technology will be the underlying factor that ties this all together.”

She went on to say that Tricap is in the final planning stages of constructing a clubhouse at Haven Hoffman Estates, where the company will install sales and engagement hubs and private study and work pods. Tricap hopes to have it open in early spring, along with the pool.

This article was produced in collaboration between Xfinity Communities and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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