Top 10 Tips for Designing a Successful Multifamily Community

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Developers are constantly searching for the key to building a successful community. There are many design factors that aide in the success of a community and our residential team created our top ten design tips we encourage you to consider when developing a modern multifamily community.

1.  Understand Building Codes and Accessiblity Laws

Ensuring your building follows current accessibility laws and buildings codes is crucial to your development. This may sound straightforward, but it is not. Each multifamily project must adhere to local, state and federal requirements. These requirements are often in conflict with each other. An experienced design team will research all of the these conflicting requirements and determine which codes and laws would prevail.  This critical decision-making will provide a logical code-path for the local permit reviewers that may not be fully aware of these overlapping requirements.

2.  Determine Your Unit Mix
Your community’s unit mix is an important factor for your bottom line and even your financing process. Conducting a market study provides input on the unit mix and net retention areas to be targeted. Market studies will include quantitative information of projects that are still in design or construction, which is extremely relevant information to have. Many lenders will require a market study for financing so it’s best to complete one early on and use the study to strategize. Aligning your community’s offerings with the needs of the market is the only true way to realize the project's proforma.

3.  Plan for Your Community Amenities
In the past, amenities were considered a luxury but today, they’re requirements. Available amenities will play a strong role in renter’s decision process. Popular amenities include on-site wellness centers, courtyards with pools tailored for entertainment and business centers with shared workspace and meeting areas. It’s also important to select amenities specifically for your target demographic. You can check out REES’ residential article, Amenities to Include in Your Multifamily Development, for more insight on three recommended amenities.
4.  Secure Your Building

Security in the exterior and interior of your building as well as resident units should be considered early in design. Security is not limited to technology systems. Security also includes design considerations such as parking garages and number of entrances. For example, separating resident and visitor parking will make it easier to restrict access to certain spaces. We discuss this topic in more detail in a previous REES Residential article: Securing Your Multifamily Building Early in Design.

5.  Arrange Resident Spaces
We’ve all heard kitchens and bathrooms are the most important rooms for residents. Kitchens and bathrooms should be approached as a wow factor. In addition to these areas, in-unit utility rooms are rising in importance to renters and many developers should also decide whether to include washers and dryers in the units.

6.  Wire For High-Speed Internet

From the growing number of streaming services to smart technology (#7) included in units, it should be a no brainer that a strong internet connection is essential to the modern renter. In one of our recent projects, we have incorporated a fiber network that runs through each resident unit, ensuring residents have the fastest connection available.

7.  Install Smart Technology

The market is swarming with smart products that add convenience to residents. Features like app-controlled thermostats, smart-key access and capabilities for voice-controlled devices create a wow factor. REES is working with a client to install a keyless entry system that residents love.

8.  Arrange Pet-Friendly Accommodations 

Pets now outnumber children in the multifamily market. A RealPage Analytics study found that in 2017, there were 18 kids and 22 pets per every 100 apartment households. Providing an on-site dog park or pet spa may be more important to your residents than you think. 

9.  Include Parcel Delivery Centers

The ability for residents to get anything from cooking ingredients for an evening’s meal to next season’s wardrobe delivered right to their door requires additional planning. High-tech lockers with refrigerated units for flowers or wine can be included in a community’s delivery center and will notify residents when their package has been delivered. Even if you don’t opt for high-tech, we encourage developers to provide for a dedicated parcel delivery center to their community.

10.  Provide Designated Spaces for Ride-Sharing Services 

Ride-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, are hugely popular for urbanites. Remember the term “motor courts”? This nostalgic term is being re-used for pick-up/drop-off areas and within parking garages or circular turn arounds with small adjacent lobbies that residents use to access these ride-sharing services. Including designated areas or parking spaces ride-sharing spaces could reduce traffic backup as well as provide convenience for residents. There are similar needs in rural developments also with autonomous vehicles. REES is currently working on a project that will incorporate designated spaces to the community for ride-sharing convenience.

While this list of design elements is standard to all new multifamily developments, every property will consider some of these factors more essential than others. For instance, a development centered in a major city may require more security than a development in a suburban area. Each developer should personalize their community and building site with the help of an experienced design team.