MRP Delivers Apartment Building On H Street With One Of D.C.'s First Hello Alfred Service Platforms
With so many new apartment buildings coming to the H Street corridor, developers need to stand out to lure tenants away from the competition, and MRP Realty is looking to do just that by introducing a new technology platform at its latest project to help residents manage their lives.
The developer outfitted its Coda on H apartment building with Hello Alfred, a digital hospitality service that helps residents coordinate everything from move-in day to cleaning, grocery shopping and dog walking.
A New York-based startup company, Hello Alfred in March raised $40M in funding led by real estate firms DivcoWest and Investco. Just one other D.C. building has introduced Hello Alfred: Capitol Riverfront's One Hill South building from Related Cos., which partnered with the tech company nationally.
Residents began moving in last month to Coda on H, MRP's 112-unit apartment building with 6K SF of ground-floor retail at 315 H St. NE. The building sits at a D.C. Streetcar stop, across from a Giant grocery store and about three blocks east of Union Station.
Given the project's relatively small size for a new D.C. apartment building, MRP decided it didn't make financial sense to maintain 24/7 concierge staff. Instead it has a leasing representative, with a desk near the entrance to greet residents, and the rest of the services residents need are provided through the Hello Alfred platform.
"Although it wouldn't meet everything a concierge does, it can help with off-hour tasks and bring something new and fresh," MRP Development Associate James Murphy said.
Through a mobile app on residents' phones, Hello Alfred provides a suite of services that help residents with a variety of daily tasks. As soon as they sign a lease and begin using the platform, the service assists residents in setting up cable and internet and booking a moving service.
Hello Alfred maintains one representative for the building who carries out a host of services that residents can book using the app. They can schedule a weekly cleaning visit for the representative to come make their beds, remove trash, wipe down the kitchen and unload dishes.
Residents can put their shopping lists into the app and the representative will purchase the items and deliver them into the fridge. They can also have their packages brought into their rooms and have the representative box and mail any packages they are sending. Dry cleaning can also be picked up and delivered back into residents' closets.
"Millennials are all about convenience," Murphy said. "If I could send a grocery list and it's there in 40 minutes, that would be awesome."
Residents can also control access to the building through the app, providing mobile guest passes to their friends so they don't have to take the elevator down to let them in. And Hello Alfred can connect residents with a dog-walking service.
The service is free to residents, though they still have to buy their groceries and pay for their dry cleaning and dog walking. Murphy said MRP is saving money by subsidizing Hello Alfred and minimizing the staff it must maintain at the building, allowing it to keep rents lower to compete with nearby buildings.
He expects the new and rarely seen service will attract residents to the building, and once they have gotten used to the offerings they will not want to move out, helping the developer with both leasing and retention.
"The way we see it, it differentiates us from any building on H Street, which is [a] highly competitive, highly amenitized market," Murphy said.
In addition to the new technology platform, the building does have a host of more commonly seen apartment amenities. Upon walking in the front door, residents enter a social area with beer and cold brew coffee on tap, plus a mural from D.C. artist BroCoLoco.
After walking past the glass-enclosed leasing office, residents step into the lounge. The area has four cushioned chairs facing a big-screen television and other tables against the wall. The lounge has a large glass door that can be opened onto the outdoor patio, which has couches and other seating areas. Murphy said the building manager plans to open up the space for social events like NFL Sundays.
Also on the first floor, the building has a room with package lockers and bike storage with direct access from the alley. The interior space was designed by Hartman Design Group.
Coda on H also has an indoor-outdoor rooftop amenity space. The indoor space has a kitchen and seating areas, including a chair that resembles something out of a Dr. Seuss book.
The outdoor terrace, still under construction, will have a grilling area and community garden space. Murphy said residents will be able to reserve the rooftop for private events. The building offers views of Capitol Hill and down the H Street corridor.
On the second floor, the building has a small fitness room. It has a handful of machines and dumbbells, plus an outdoor patio area. It takes the place of one apartment unit, and Murphy said MRP Realty had considered the revenue benefit of keeping that unit as rentable space, but decided the gym was a box they needed to check to compete with nearby buildings.
The building consists of 27 studio apartments averaging 438 SF, 42 junior one-bedrooms averaging 575 SF, 12 one-bedrooms averaging 592 SF, six one-bedroom with dens averaging 781 SF, and 16 two-bedrooms averaging 945 SF. Nine of the units are set aside as affordable, including three of the two-bedrooms.
The apartments are on floors two through eight of the building, with retail and amenity space on the ground-floor and the rooftop terrace on the ninth. Most of the units on the south side offer balconies. Those on the seventh floor have larger terraces, including a 40-foot terrace on one of the corner two-bedroom units.
The project is already 30% leased one month after opening. Murphy said the tenants have included law students and Capitol Hill staffers, and have tended to lease the smaller and less expensive apartments first. The retail space has yet to be leased, but Murphy said MRP is looking to bring in a coffee shop, a bar or a restaurant.