Demand for multifamily housing will continue to rise in 2014 and beyond, thanks to a new breed of renter driven to apartment living by desire rather than necessity. Itâ€™s a mixed breed composed of young adults as well as empty nesters and retirees who appreciate what apartment living has to offer on top of flexibility and convenience. Their high expectations raise the bar for the 363,000 multifamily construction starts expected in 2015.
A panel discussion on apartment design at the 2014 National Multifamily Housing Councilâ€™s annual meeting centered on appealing to this new breed of renter. According to the NMHCâ€™s recap, developers must move beyond thinking only â€œin terms of products and unit types, unit mixes and amenities; they are going to have to figure out how to better leverage architecture, design, light and technology to create not just a building or community but a destination or experience that reflects how residents feel about themselves and the things they value.â€
The panel addressed the importance of connectivity, both in terms of technology and socializing, with discussion moving from the role and potential of â€œsmart technologyâ€ to the human element: â€œApartment communities give rise to social communities and apartment designers and developers really need to think about what kind of community fabric they are engineering as they build their next buildings.â€
Millennials in particular are drawn to the communal and experiential aspects of apartment living. A pool and a workout facility wonâ€™t cut it anymore. Newer properties catering to this demographic offer everything from revolving art installations to off-leash dog parks. Millennials are also behind the push for more mixed-use developments with easy access to retail, restaurants and recreation.