How Amenities Are Shaping Apartments On The West Coast
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From dog washes to bowling alleys, amenities are becoming a big focus for apartment developers on the West Coast. Demand to rent remains high and developers are renovating and building high-end amenities to bring in and retain renters.
California has the highest number of renters of any state, with 6.5 million residents living in apartments as of 2015, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. Apartments represent 42% of housing in Los Angeles and 41% in San Francisco, offering plenty of competition among landlords.
“Most apartment unit amenities feel much more condo quality with built-in microwaves, dishwashers and granite countertops. [Apartments have] much higher-end finishes just to attract the tenants in the first place,” Transwestern vice president and director of multifamily sales David Weglarz said.
Business centers are being brought into the center of communities, instead of back of house. They now serve dual purposes. During the day, these centers are used like co-working spaces and converted to event space or fitness space at night. Fully equipped fitness centers with group workout areas, dog parks, pet washes, pools and spas, and barbecues are becoming standard.
With more people shopping online, package lockers and other package services are increasingly popular. Many apartment rehabilitations are focusing on upgrading internet infrastructure to offer high-speed internet, according to Weglarz.
Landlords are taking cues from the hospitality industry. A Bay Area apartment owner created a drop-off/pickup laundry service for residents, Weglarz said. In Orange County, developers have started incorporating creative amenities, such as bowling alleys, cryotherapy chambers inside gyms and TVs at swimming pools.
Mack Urban’s WREN apartment community in Downtown Los Angeles, which was completed in early May, offers concierge and dry-cleaning service. It also offers billiards and games tables in the club lounge, poolside cabanas and a large spa. Its business center offers six co-working stations, a private conference room and two open conference centers.
Developers are adding these amenities to stay competitive, but no amount of amenities can make up for one important amenity.
“Location, location, location is really the first driver, especially in the Bay Area,” Weglarz said. “About 50% of the 27,000 units online are within close proximity to transit … You can only offset not having a good location with so many amenities.”
Transit-oriented developments are ideal for increasing walkability of cities and decreasing traffic on the streets. Business islands, which may be farther away from major downtowns, also have been seen as a potential solution as they provide jobs close to housing and retail centers.
Sunset Development's Bishop Ranch, Lennar’s project at Concord Naval Base and FivePoint’s Shipyard project are among mixed-use projects that offer office close to residential and retail in the Bay Area. San Diego is pushing forward with plans to create a transit-oriented master planned community along the Mexico border. SummerHill Housing Group is developing 27 acres in Santa Clara into a master planned community complete with public parks, a community garden, a dog park and an outdoor movie theater.
For communities a little bit out of the way, developers are coming up with workarounds. At Oakland’s Brooklyn Basin, Signature Development plans to offer a free bus to connect people to Jack London Square and Uptown Oakland, according to Weglarz.
Multifamily properties close to transit with a plethora of amenities are selling quickly, such as with the newly built Parc One @Santee in San Diego, which sold for $56.6M in January. This complex, completed in 2016, is close to a huge community park and offers high-end amenities inside units including granite countertops, deluxe appliances, and laundry and storage inside units.