Apartment Business Centers Mix Business and Pleasure
Digested From “Apartment Business Centers: All Work and Play”
Chicago Tribune (10/11/13) Steele, Jeffrey
Mobile technology has prompted a rethinking of apartment business centers. They used to be windowless rooms that were isolated from the rest of the community and dedicated to high-speed Internet connections and printing and faxing documents. However, with the increasing popularity of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, Internet access is a given, even when on the go, remarks Greg Lozinak, board member of the National Apartment Association and and COO of Waterton Residential. Many new apartment business centers are designed as bright and comfortable workspaces for multitasking - working online, lounging, meeting with business associates, and so forth. Some are even becoming social centers where residents gather to network and socialize.
Lozinak remarked, "Today, a business center is almost the wrong thing to call this concept. Most people use them for one of two reasons." The first is to access scanners and printers they no longer need at home. Second, residents are seeking space to collaborate or study with others. Presidential Towers in Chicago, for instance, is incorporating meeting rooms and alcoves with tables and chairs within the common areas. Diana Pittro, executive vice president of RMK Management Corp., notes that each of her firm's 35 apartment communities in Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota have business centers. "When we first did business centers," she noted, "they were private rooms, enjoyed by people who worked from home. Now, business centers are becoming an area for working and lounging. So many people these days work with their laptops and don't have computers set up in their home anymore. . . . It's gone from privacy to more social.”
Randy Fifield, vice chairwoman and principal of developer The Fifield Cos., is equally excited that business centers are turning into sellable amenities. She states, "These business centers are setting buildings apart, because they really enhance the live-work-and-play urban lifestyle." As a result, it is not uncommon to see such spaces include cushioned armchairs and coffee stations in addition to workstations, copiers, and fax machines. While business centers are indeed often associated with urban apartment communities. But they are no less vital amenities at suburban communities, as well. The 719-unit Woods of Countryside apartment community in Palatine, Ill., features a business center that houses computers, printers, and a conference room. In addition to working adults, it draws children and senior citizens who view it as an on-site social center.
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