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Amenity spaces in multifamily buildings (like this rooftop lounge) are key to attracting renters.

Multifamily & Mixed-Use

Why Amenity Spaces in Multifamily Buildings Are Worth It

If an apartment building’s amenity spaces are an afterthought during the design process, they’re going to feel like afterthoughts in someone’s life, too. Uninspired settings are not what today’s city dwellers are looking for. In a competitive market, without well-designed common spaces, your whole building may end up an afterthought to a potential renter.

July 11, 2019

Home is where the amenities are.

There’s something magical about cities in those first few years after college. Money is pretty hard to come by, and a single night out could soak up all the extra income for a month. Sometimes, recent grads end up either hanging out at other people’s apartments, or spending a ton of time at their own place. A lot of that magical urban experience people hunt for right out of school can seem hard to capture when you’re on a budget, stuck in a tiny apartment.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The old saying, “home is where your stuff is,” just isn’t the case anymore. Our places aren’t glorified closets; in the era of selfies and living on social media, they’re the stage for the drama of our lives. We’re thoughtful when we choose the background for memorable moments. If designers and developers are as thoughtful about the design of apartment homes as young professionals are about how and where they want to live — that’s something that’s going to stand out in a significant way when those young professionals choose where to rent.

Common areas in the building are where all the fun stuff is going to happen, and they should be anything but common. The lounge, the rooftop, maybe even a game room — these are the places where memories are made. The amenity spaces should have the kitchen and living room of our successful future, where random encounters make for the stories worth sharing. If the common spaces in an apartment building are an afterthought during the design process, they’re going to feel like afterthoughts in someone’s life, as well. In a competitive market, your building might end up an afterthought to them, too.

A large lobby amenity space is broken down into smaller seating areas. – Multifamily remodel by Board & Vellum
Social Gathering Spaces

With spaces for relaxing, getting some work done, or having a drink or snack — amenity spaces that essentially recreate the areas of a home serve as a backdrop for exciting social moments and opportunities.

Not only do each of these spaces have to be special in-and-of themselves, the design of each common space in the building has to work with the others seamlessly, and create an overall experience that keys into a tenant’s imagination: the design should tell the story of their future. If any chapter is left out of the story, the plot won’t make any sense. The lobby, the corridors, the bathrooms, the leasing office, even the rooftop — they all must work together, or a potential tenant could start dreaming of a life elsewhere.

It’s not that units don’t matter at all, of course. Unit design can hurt a property if it’s done poorly, but will rarely help you stand out, even if done excessively well. Many tenants would be more turned off by a bland, depressing, thoughtless corridor than by a boring shower in their unit. No matter how nice the cabinet hardware is, or how well selected a bathroom tile, it’s not going to create the kind of excitement that a fully stocked rooftop bar will, or a private, boutique-level lounge.

As designers and developers, we want to make a place where memories can be created, and then get out of the way for tenants to do just that. The energy of a building filled with residents that are happy and excited to meet people is unique and unmistakable — and isn’t something you can select, or buy. It is something that can be encouraged, with design. Triple down on the amenities in your building, design them the way your future tenants deserve, and they will reward you with a building filled with smiles and memories.

What else is worth it in a multifamily building?

It’s way more than simply the units themselves that help lease up a building.

Why Lobbies in Multifamily Buildings Are Worth It

Do you remember the so-so lobbies you’ve passed through? Probably not. But do you have pleasant memories of the ones where you really spent some time? Of course! Great lobbies make a big impression. When they are well-designed, they impact our lives in ways that stick with us — the backdrop for important moments in our lives.

Why Corridors in Multifamily Buildings Are Worth It

It might be easy to brush off corridors as simply functional — linear spaces you have to pass through to get where you’re really going. But, not only is it more pleasant for residents if the hallways aren’t a dreary, monotonous slog, but your leasing staff won't have to gloss over the space future tenants are inherently spending a lot of time in moving from place to place in a tour. Well-designed corridors can be the touch that seals the deal for a tenant, making the whole building, not just a unit, feel like home.

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