Location, location… amenities?  As we told you in a previous article, the desirability of a community’s lifestyle amenities is becoming highly influential in driving the purchasing decision for many homebuyers. To rise to the challenge – and set themselves apart from the competition – many developers, builders and community associations are adding the next generation of amenities to their lifestyle communities, high-rises, condo buildings and other residential properties.  And it’s working.  By adding and/or updating their amenities to reflect evolving tastes, communities are effectively meeting the aspirations and demands – and enhancing the lifestyles – of potential and existing homeowners. 

So how do builders or homeowners associations decide which amenities to include in their planning?   “The level of amenity offerings is typically influenced by a community’s overall size and planned scope of infrastructure.  Maintaining alignment with the contemporary needs and interests of prospective buyers and current residents is another important variable that must receive priority consideration,” said Judy Julison, Senior Vice President of Lifestyle Programming at FirstService Residential.   

“The level of amenity offerings must also consider the impact on home costs, association operating budgets and fees for planning, design and execution,” she added.  “It’s important in order to remain economically feasible and maintain value and affordability for those who choose to make the community home.”

Julison has over 35 years of professional experience in lifestyle community planning and amenity trends research, design and operations, and has worked with over 100 active adult and multi-generational communities and their amenity operations. Prior to joining FirstService Residential, she served as National Director of Lifestyle Operations for PulteGroup, Inc, working exclusively with the homebuilder’s Del Webb brand.  So who better to ask about emerging amenity trends for 2016 and beyond? 

Here’s what we found out.  A growing number of lifestyle communities and high-rise buildings are adding or renovating their fitness centers, creating state-of-the-art workout spaces that rival some of the best local health and wellness facilities.  In addition, some properties are adding features like resort-style swimming and infinity pools, performance theaters and full-service spas with massage studios, hair salons and other health, beauty and wellness services. 

“These indoor amenities can be located inside a single community recreation center or may be part of a multiple facility complex designed in a campus-style setting,” she said.  “The total square footage and level of amenity offerings, however, will always be influenced by a community’s overall size and planned scope of infrastructure.” 

Julison adds that lifestyle communities are also integrating enhanced outdoor community entry and amenity access features with aesthetically appealing reception areas and adjacent social lounges, coffee bars and similar spaces – an ideal way to make a great first impression and provide ample opportunities for homeowners to socialize with friends and neighbors. 

Another trend?  Amenities that tie into homeowners’ interests and hobbies, such as dedicated club rooms and classrooms for activities like ceramics, computers and lifelong learning, as well as dog parks, Wi-Fi cafes, bocce and pickle ball complexes, skate board facilities, golf simulators and more. 

Julison also explained that as homebuyers become more health-conscious, educated, community-minded and focused on the world around them, they are becoming more interested in food, wellness, sustainability and the natural environment.  Consequently, a growing number of communities are fashioning their offerings with forward-thinking features like on-site farms, vineyards, full-service restaurants, demonstration and catering kitchens, outdoor kitchens, rooftop or community gardens and greenhouses – all on the rise for 2016. 

Another emerging trend is the increasing use of outdoor spaces for socializing and entertaining, as more buildings and communities add features like rooftop or outdoor decks, pools, lounges and cafes – these may even include outdoor fireplaces or heaters in cooler climates.  In 2016 and the years ahead, you’re likely to see more lifestyle properties creating the next generation of consistently popular community features like swimming pools, community and neighborhood parks, lakes and walking trails and more.  Incorporating outdoor amenities into the natural setting, leveraging the area’s local topography and delivering amenities unique to that specific geographic region will remain a key area of focus.  For example, lakefront communities in North Carolina may feature swimming beaches, canoe and kayak facilities and fishing venues to appeal to local recreationists, while New York City high-rise buildings may offer rooftop decks, as well as on-site art galleries, indoor lap pools and concierge services to meet the needs of urban dwellers. 

As homeowners’ tastes change and their interests continue to evolve in 2016 and beyond, developers, builders and community associations are meeting their needs by adding the next generation of amenities – an ideal way to enjoy rewarding lifestyle experiences without leaving home.  For more information on amenity planning and management, visit FirstService Residential
Tuesday December 22, 2015