High-rise dwellers have some things in common: they’re generally looking for convenience and location, but what else beyond that? Amenities are also considered and frankly, could be one of the deciding factors for a homebuyer. What’s desirable in amenities is always changing; 30 years ago, card rooms for bridge tournaments and poker games were a necessity, and in the early days of the Internet, business centers with computers that could go online were the hottest ticket in town. Those areas have now made way for yoga studios and children’s playrooms to stay relevant to the changing needs of residents.
It’s important to make sure that your high-rise building’s amenities are desirable and reflect the latest needs and wants of current residents, as well as potential buyers. Investing in amenities will have a twofold effect: it will enrich the lifestyles of your homeowners and residents, and it will make your high-rise more marketable and enhance property values. Updating your amenities doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Read on for some of the hottest trends in high-rise amenities for 2017 and suggestions for staying current with any budget.
Offer Concierge-Level Service
Never underestimate the power of good service as your most important amenity. Nadav Schnall, Vice Present in the New Development Group of FirstService Residential in New York City, believes that the capabilities and qualities of the people staffing a high-rise building are an amenity. “If you don’t have a professional, well-qualified team, you won’t be able to deliver exceptional service to your residents,” he said. “Your residents’ satisfaction and happiness are essential elements of a successful association.”
A professional property management company can assist your high-rise building by hiring the best staff suited to meet your residents’ needs and implementing proprietary training programs to educate the staff on how to provide exceptional service. Depending on the market, that service may be offered by on-site staff or by contracting an outside vendor.
Bill Worrall, vice president for FirstService Residential in Miami, agrees with Schnall. “Training and developing front desk staff to offer residents with additional amenities such as personal trainers, restaurant reservations and other resort-like, concierge-quality services is essential,” he said. “The surrounding community can be promoted as an amenity to residents. For example, in Boca Raton, it’s the Mizner Park area and in Fort Lauderdale, it’s all that Las Olas has to offer. No matter where the building is located, a well-informed staff with knowledge of the surrounding area can help residents make the most of their neighborhoods.”
In New York City, concierge-style service has become an essential part of high-rise owner’s lifestyle. This level of service includes an extensively trained front desk staff. Instead of self-managing this type of staff, high-rise buildings are opting to hire a contract concierge service such as that provided by Abigail Michaels
or Luxury Attaché. These firms can provide services such as scheduling a car service, booking restaurant reservations, planning and coordinating events, finding tickets to the hottest shows and managing needed pickups and deliveries.
Bring-in Outside Vendors
Making life easier for residents through vendor relationships is another trendy way to offer excellent service without spending a lot of money. Schnall said that, in some of the buildings he works with in New York City, unused space has been converted into a valet station. The space is leased to a vendor such as a dry cleaner and that business also agrees to serve as a package valet for residents, holding packages for pickup or delivering them to units when the resident requests them. As more and more people shop online, package space is becoming more sparse at most front desks and this contracted valet vendor can assist the front desk by managing the storage of parcels.
In Ontario, that concept has been taken much further. “Most of our residential buildings are mixed-use with retail stores on the first floor,” said Roger Thompson, executive vice president for FirstService Residential in Toronto. “More than a dozen of the buildings we serve have small grocery stores. These stores specialize in prepared foods, fill the need for coffee shops and juice bars, and sometimes offer a dry cleaning drop-off or bank branch. Residents love the convenience of stopping and grabbing dinner and picking up their dry cleaning right from the first floor of their building.”
Add Simple Upgrades to Existing Amenities
Today, pools and fitness centers are standard in almost every building, but the way in which buildings interpret them can vary. “Fitness centers are definitely the most popular amenity offered in high-rises today,” Worrall said. “New buildings are making them larger, and more high-tech. More mature buildings are expanding them and adding a designated space for yoga and Pilates.” An example of trendy high-tech workout equipment today is treadmills that take users on virtual walks through the Grand Canyon or the Andes Mountains.
In New York City, fitness centers are being upgraded through staffing. Buildings can contract with a spa and fitness center consultancy such as American Leisure
to staff their centers with attendants who provide fresh towels and bottled water as well as booking fitness trainers for residents. When space allows, fitness centers are incorporating resort-like features such as plush robes and luxurious locker rooms. Spas are a popular extension of the fitness center in luxury buildings across North America. These facilities are offering treatment rooms for massage therapy to full steam rooms, saunas and other services for homeowners and residents.
To update your fitness center without spending a fortune, consider converting an unused space into a yoga and Pilates studio. Perhaps there’s a conference room or business center that’s rarely used? Empty it of furniture, paint the walls a soothing color and install the appropriate lighting, and suddenly you have one of the trendiest amenities without incurring a large investment. Simply stocking a mini-fridge with bottled water in the fitness center is another easy, fast upgrade that can provide a great return on the investment.
To upgrade the service around your pool deck, add a juice bar. This can be easily accomplished by adding a counter-style table staffed a few hours a day with a variety of fruit and a juice machine, or as elaborate as a fully built-in bar area. You could also stock a glass-fronted fridge with cool, moist hand towels, snacks like chilled fruit and bottled water, both still and sparkling. A towel service is another way to enhance your pool deck area without incurring much expense. Monogramming the towels and branding the water bottles adds an exclusive touch!
Understand Your Residents’ Wants and Needs
Understanding the demographics of your building can help determine the right amenities to attract and retain residents. If your building caters to families, consider turning that under-utilized card room into a playroom for children
packed with toys, gaming systems and appropriately sized, comfy furniture. You could convert the roof of your parking garage into a sports area offering soccer, volleyball and basketball. If your building attracts dog lovers, think about adding a pet spa.
This can be accomplished by simply providing a place to wash winter slush and salt off of puppy paws before they track up the floors, or can be more elaborate by offering a full grooming salon and dog walking services. The parking garage roof could also become a dog park instead of a sports area as well, if it meets the needs of your homeowners.
Updating your building amenities is a crucial part of maintaining its marketability and curb appeal. Besides keeping your current community engaged and active, freshening up your amenity offerings will help attract new members as well.