Luxury Amenity Spaces Attract Residents. What Is Being Done To Safely Reopen Them?
Rooftop swimming pools, premium fitness centers, lounges with plush seating — these are the types of amenities that inspired residents of luxury buildings to sign their leases, and for the last few months, they have likely been sitting empty.
Multifamily buildings across the U.S. have either shut down or strictly limited the use of their shared amenity spaces since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. As cities start to reopen, building owners are searching for safe ways to return residents to the spaces for which they pay top dollar, before they decide to move somewhere else.
“Our clients attracted their residents by telling them ‘our building is different than the one next door because of the amenities we have to offer,’” said Robert Cancel, co-founder and chief operating officer of NFC Amenity Management, which manages amenity programs in more than 270 buildings. “We’ve been working overtime to make sure that claim still rings true.”
Cancel said that the coronavirus has turned the amenity world upside down. NFC has spent the last decade focused on creating amenities that are designed to bring communities together, but the company has spent the last few months creating solutions to strike a balance between fostering community and keeping tenants safe. Those changes are now being rolled out in buildings across the country.
The biggest change comes in the form of a new role the company has added to its usual lineup of amenity staff: social distancing monitor.
The role of a social distancing monitor will be twofold. First, they will be trained in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's social distancing guidelines and will do everything they can to ensure that amenity spaces — and residents — are adhering to those rules.
This means making sure that pool deck chairs are spaced 6 feet apart, that residents in the gym are kept to a strict limit and gently reminding residents that they need to maintain social distance whenever possible in all amenity areas. Second, they will work alongside a building’s cleaning crew to regularly sanitize all amenity spaces.
NFC has also been using technology to help people ease into the new normal. Residents can use the NFC amenity app on their phones to schedule time in the fitness center so they can be confident that there will only be one or two other residents present during their workout.
If they would rather avoid the gym altogether, they can also use the NFC Fitness Live platform, which gives them access to more than 40 live online workout classes per week in NFC buildings around the country, as well as the opportunity to speak to an instructor one-on-one.
“We’re getting more participants in our virtual workout classes than we ever got with in-person classes,” Cancel said.
NFC will also be rolling out a new package delivery system where packages will be delivered straight to a resident’s door at a time that they designate. The goal, Cancel said, is to cut down on the small crowds that tend to gather in building lobbies as residents await their packages.
Looking toward the future, Cancel believes that his conversations with developers are going to be focused on scaling new amenities to meet residents’ needs and doing away with some “must-have” perks of the past. He said that fitness centers will definitely get bigger, to accommodate more "nooks" where people can feel like they are working out by themselves, while steam rooms and saunas will likely disappear.
Cancel said that so far, residents have been very receptive to the social distancing monitors and that their presence has given residents the peace of the mind they need to start enjoying their amenity spaces again.
“It’s all about making sure residents stay educated,” Cancel said. “What we’re trying to do here is instill new habits in people. Having a knowledgeable person on staff who can clearly explain safe practices is the best way to do that.”
This feature was produced in collaboration between the Bisnow Branded Content Studio and NFC Amenity Management. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.