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Pocket Parks an Amenity That Calls for Selfies

June 2019

Apartment communities are increasing the number of outdoor items within their amenity packages. Outdoor covered living rooms with fireplaces and outdoor TVs, pocket parks geared towards outdoor activity, water features, bocce ball courts, corn hole areas, and picnic areas with grilling stations are just a few of the amenities continuing to grow in popularity.

These items focus on residents’ unique lifestyles, creating more opportunities for social interaction and are considered “selfie-ready.”

Starting-out singles with limited incomes are one of the largest resident cohorts, according to a recent report from RealPage. This makes them more likely to interact with outdoor and social amenities in their community rather than spend money on these activities.

HHHunt is one of the largest multifamily companies in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Lance Goss, Director of Operations for HHHunt’s Apartment Living Division, oversees financial and physical operations for over 8,000 HHHunt apartment homes in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

HHHunt is fully embracing these outdoor trends with a Pedestrian Plaza at their newest community, Abberly Solaire, in Garner, N.C. Serving as a focal point in the community, the Plaza will be divided into three sections with open, natural turf fields for outdoor activities, an enormous bark park and grilling stations with seating.

He spoke to units Magazine about this trend.

How do you describe a pocket park?

A pocket park is a green space that either has a specified designated design such as a picnic area, dog park, playground or it could be natural field open to all activities. We want those spaces to be meaningful and social in nature.

Are pocket parks used in both retrofitted communities and new developments?

We are constantly thinking about how to create those outdoor social spaces at our existing properties. We have been incorporating them in our new designs moving forward with new projects.

How much time and effort does it take to build or renovate a pocket park?

The challenging thing about creating a pocket park is finding the space to do it in. The denser the project, the more challenging it is to execute. We try to figure for those smaller spaces during site design. The biggest part of creating pocket parks is to make sure those spaces are meaningful rather than an afterthought.

Do pocket parks have specific uses or do residents use them just to “hang out?”

They truly can be both. We plan some to be open, flat areas for throwing a baseball or tossing a Frisbee and others that are covered areas with fireplaces and TVs. It is about capturing lifestyle moments and giving residents an opportunity to fully live their lives. We have really focused on the pet experience as well. Our dog parks are becoming larger. We have abandoned all breed restrictions.

Are these parks easy to maintain?

Easy is relative. It does take effort to keep these areas looking good and operating efficiently. Landscaping and upkeep are essential for proper use of the space.

What goes into creating “selfie-ready” areas on the property?

Selfie-ready is something that is not necessarily expected. It could be tufted fabric wall, it could be contrasting lights in your pool. It is something that will show up in a picture that will make people say, “Wow.” It comes down to design. It is using different materials and textures. You want people to “like” the photo.