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Apartment Execs Pick Amenities for 2019

Amenities 2019

Peloton bikes, food trucks and semi-private work stations are among the top amenities for people in 2019. But find out what exercise amenity one company is rolling out for pets.

It sounds like Amy Funk, Vice President Real Estate Investments and Development for Camden is growing tired of amenities wars.

“It is challenging to continue to ‘out-amenitize’ the competition,” Funk says. “Everyone is blowing out their amenity spaces, trying to outdo the other.”

To compete in this high-cost environment, Camden is being strategic by trying to leverage a smaller square footage space with bigger impact. It considers different areas of its communities and how it can use them to meet its residents’ needs in smarter ways. And it isn’t alone.

Here are some ways the Houston-based company and others in the industry are trying to delight residents. 

Think Local and Outdoors

To set itself apart from competitors, Camden’s goal with amenities is “connecting the asset and its amenity offering with its location and specific demographic,” Funk says.

At its RiNo community in Denver, Camden changed its clubhouse plan to include an art gallery. “We partnered with Space Gallery, which represents 60-plus local artists. We will rotate the artists being used in our gallery and hold viewing events,” Funk says.

Food also plays a part in this local flavor. Case in point: Camden included outdoor food truck dining at North End II in Scottsdale, Az. “We will continue to take this same demographic approach with not only the amenity spaces but with the overall look and feel of the design, trying to cater to the ‘local flavor,’ ” Funk says.

Additionally, Camden is working to activate the outdoor spaces -- beyond just a pool. Where appropriate, it is designing aqua lounges or “pool houses” that have bars and televisions right on or near the pool.

“We are putting a lot of the indoor-only gaming activities outdoors,” Funk says. “These areas include outdoor movie spaces, gathering areas and gaming areas. We really want our residents to have several outdoor areas to use beyond the clubhouse and pool.”

Courting Teleworkers

Randy Fifield, Chairwoman of Fifield Realty Corp., says a large portion of its residents work from home. That is changing its amenity strategy.

“With 25 percent of our residents working from home, having semi-private workstations, small conference rooms and other comfortable spaces to work outside of their own apartments -- but within their own building -- are even more in demand,” she says.

At MAA, the largest apartment owner in the country, connected and flexible work and gathering areas are among the top amenities for 2019.

“As more and more people work remotely, this [flexible work areas] amenity continues to attract both our current and potential residents,” says COO Tom Grimes. “Having quiet, common and connected areas where residents can work, have meetings or just check emails is another way we can add value for those who choose to live with us. After a recent addition of a connected flex work area at one of our properties, we actually had residents report they were able to cancel their membership in a nearby common office space.”

At Hayden in Tempe, Camden is incorporating social media hubs within its club space with a live, interactive social media feed.

“We are aiming to do less ‘stuffy and massive’ clubrooms, because, although beautiful, frankly, nobody uses them,” Funk says. “Instead, we want lively smaller active spaces or ‘hubs’ that incorporate café, mobile work and connectivity.”

Gym Equipment is Changing (and Not Just for People)

In addition to high-speed Internet and more co-working spaces, Fifield says more sophisticated gyms are the hottest draws in her Class A urban apartments.

“We’re actually adding more stairclimbing machines as well as the popular Peloton bikes to buildings we just opened a year or two ago,” Fifield says.

At Camden, Funk says the company is moving to “less fancy” and grittier, CrossFit style fitness areas. “We are adding ‘wellness zones’ or ‘chill zones’ near the fitness areas to offer some relaxation and Zen,” she says.

At MAA, fitness is not just for humans. “All things pet-related continue to be popular at our communities—from thoughtful, well-designed pet parks to pet spas and grooming areas,” Grimes says. “The latest amenity we are testing is pet treadmills. These have created a high level of resident engagement and conversation. It is yet to be seen if our furry friends are willing to accept the treadmills as a valid substitute for an outdoor walk.”

Don’t Forget Packages

While Peloton bikes, food trucks and semi-private work carols are among the amenities being rolled out, packages remain an operations issue. That’s something Morgan Properties is focused on into next year.

“With the increase in online shopping, apartment management companies are looking for solutions to accommodate the volume of packages that are being delivered onsite,” says Laurel Hillocks, Area Vice President at Morgan. “Adding automated locker systems will improve overall efficiency, as it reduces time spent by onsite teams to assist with packages. Therefore, Morgan Properties will be exploring enhancing amenity packages by adding automated locker systems in 2019.”