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Bigger, Better And More Refined: The Evolution Of The Amenity Space


Over the course of his 24-year career, Gym Source commercial sales consultant Thomas Jackowski has seen multifamily amenity spaces evolve considerably. As recently as five years ago, he explains, most developers committed little attention, budget or square footage to these spaces and merely checked them off the list in order to fit the offering plan or brochure.

“It wasn’t all that uncommon,” Thomas tells Bisnow, “for your ‘gym’ to just be some various machines in a tiny basement.”

But these days, as lifestyle changes radically alter the landscape and tenants demand higher quality, developers are seeing the untapped money-making potential in creative, well-designed amenities.

In fact, Thomas says, a superior amenity space is one of the top three reasons someone buys or rents a building, behind only the doorman-concierge experience and parking space. That’s why today’s amenity areas received budgets several times larger than a few years ago and are now nestled in the top floors of vertical high-rises.

“We’re giving tenants the million-dollar views,” he says. “We’re putting the cardio in an environment where they can look out the window and they can see the New York City skyline, and that’s something that would have been insane years ago.”

The Catalysts

Bigger, Better And More Refined: The Evolution Of The Amenity Space

What happened to cause these changes in mindset? Thomas says there were a few factors, including the recognition of an in-house gym or amenity space’s convenience, the increased focus and knowledge about health and exercise, and discretionary income.

“The more educated the buyer, the more expensive the property that they buy,” Tom explains. “Wealthier buyers have a greater expectation and something more than a cookie-cutter fitness room or some typical lounge. They’re going to want higher quality in every aspect of the building, and the amenity space is no exception.”

Another huge factor is simply the increase in high-end properties being brought to big markets like NYC. In order to stand out and draw more potential tenants, landlords and developers are truly putting in everything they can to convince a potential tenant that this is where they want to live.

“They’re doing the golf simulator room, the large lounge, the pool, the functional training room and traditional personal training rooms. They’re doing all these things, but they also want to make sure that it's cutting-edge and unique.”

The Thought Process

Bigger, Better And More Refined: The Evolution Of The Amenity Space

In order to “truly deliver on what marketing is presenting to the public,” Thomas says, it’s critical that developers not only truly think through the environment, personality and potential tenant base, but they should discuss all of these with the person designing this amenity space, as this could widely change what kinds of amenities are included and give everyone a more concrete idea of what is being sold.

“In most cases, it’s hard for the marketing, branding and sales departments to market, brand or sell something they don't really have a good grasp of,” Thomas explains. “You have to ask yourself if your amenities are up to what the tenants or purchasers are looking for. Does it match the lifestyle that they want to live? Because that's what’s going to dictate whether they buy or rent in your building versus going down the street or going across the street and buying or renting from similar price property.”

The Case Study


Gyms have become probably the biggest focus for many developers in recent memory, as a strong exercise and fitness experience creates the “perfect backbone” for many successful buildings.

“It’s the first and foremost foundation of the amenity area,” Thomas plainly states. “And then, around that, you build on that foundation and that lifestyle experience based on your budget, available space and who you're marketing to.”

But gyms have become increasingly influenced by lifestyle changes, and can be very easy to mishandle unless given the proper thought and consideration. The ways people exercise has changed, he explains, and the focus on traditional cardio and strength equipment is quickly being replaced by CrossFit, cable training and group exercise experiences, the latter of which not only motivates tenants, but also gives them a “socialization component” not found in gyms.

Speaking of which, Thomas explains that the “old-school, old-style gym” has also lost its luster, since many of them are in basements and lack the natural light that keep tenants invested. He insists that “the physical environment” is unbelievably important and could get the same “validation” of a proper gym without spending too much by simply focusing on natural lighting and a smarter use of space.

But the choice of equipment will always be determined by the tenancy. While some might like spinning and yoga rooms, others may still want that weight room. That why he believes that getting a gym expert in early could save you huge issues down the line.

And naturally, he says, the equipment should always be top quality. Thomas recommends using Cybex Commercial Fitness equipment as the foundation of many of the customized facilities he designs, since Cybex’s equipment is not only durable and high-grade, but it can also be customized to perfectly fit your property’s overall design. (The rendering above is with Bisnow's color scheme and in a similar environment to our NYC HQ.)

The Future


So what comes next for amenity spaces, now that they are one of the biggest drivers for a building’s marketing? While technologies like virtual reality may need further development before they’re implemented into exercise rooms and other amenity areas, Thomas believes that the smartest developers will continue to realize that amenities drive sales and rentals, and the more money, time and even in-house management they bring to these spaces will continue to set these spaces apart from others on the market.

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