One of the many perks of high-rise living in the Sunshine State, beyond the location, is the long list of amenities that many Florida high-rises offer. In fact, amenities could very well be the deciding factor for many homebuyers. But the amenities landscape is ever-changing and what was desirable 30 years ago – like card rooms for poker games and bridge tournaments, and in the early days of the World Wide Web, business centers with online access – are no longer the hottest tickets in town. Today’s most popular amenities include yoga studios and children’s playrooms, all in an effort to stay relevant and meet the changing needs of high-rise residents.
If you are a Board member in a high-rise building, it’s important to ensure that the amenities your building is offering reflect what your current and future homeowners need and want. Investing in amenities will benefit your association twofold: it will enhance the lifestyles of your current residents and make your building more marketable, while also enhancing property values. The good news is that updating your amenities doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Read on for some of the hottest amenity trends for 2017. If you follow a few of these trends, you’ll be well on your way to staying current within any budget.

Understand What Your Residents Want and Need

If you understand the demographics of your building, then it will help you determine which amenities will attract and retain residents. For example, if your building caters to families, the underutilized card room can easily be converted into a playroom for children, filled with kid-friendly furnishings, toys and gaming systems. If you attract a lot of pet lovers, consider adding a pet spa. The pet spa can be as simple as a washing station to clean puppy paws before entering the building, or more elaborate with a full grooming salon and dog-walking services. You can go one step further and convert your parking garage roof into a dog park to meet the needs of your dog-loving residents. Or, if you have a lot of sports enthusiasts, turn that parking garage roof into a sports area that offers basketball, soccer or volleyball.

Add Simple Upgrades to Existing Amenities

In this day and age, pools and fitness centers are the norm in almost every high-rise building. However, buildings can interpret them in many different ways, and oftentimes that makes all the difference. “Fitness centers are by far the most popular amenity high-rises offer today,” said Bill Worrall, vice president for FirstService Residential. “Buildings that have been around for some time are expanding them and adding designated space for activities like yoga and Pilates, while new buildings are making them larger and more high-tech.” For example, today, trendy high-tech workout equipment like treadmills that take you on virtual walks through the Grand Canyon are all the rage.
Fitness centers are starting to incorporate resort-like features such as luxurious locker rooms and spas, when space permits. In luxury buildings, they are a natural extension of the fitness center. Treatment rooms for massage therapy, saunas, and full steam rooms are just some of the things these luxury high-rise fitness centers and spas offer.
If you are looking to update your fitness center without breaking the bank, think about converting unused space into a studio for yoga and/or Pilates. Simply remove furniture from the room, paint the walls a soothing color, install the proper lighting, and before you know it you have one of the trendiest amenities out there, and all without making a huge investment. Something as simple as offering cold water is yet another easy, fast upgrade that can go a long way.
Consider upgrading your pool deck by adding a juice bar. This can be as easy as adding a counter-style table that is staffed a few hours a day and provides a variety of fruit and a juicer, or it can be more elaborate and include a built-in bar. Another simple upgrade is to stock a glass-fronted fridge with cool hand towels, snacks and beverages for residents to enjoy while at the pool. Towel service is easy to implement and also easy on the budget. You can even splurge a little by monogramming the towels to add an exclusive touch.

Offer Concierge-Level Service

Always remember that good service, including the capabilities and attentiveness of your high-rise staff, can be your best amenity. A professional property management company will be able to assist your association with the hiring and training process to ensure that your high-rise has the best staff suited to meet the needs of your residents.
“Training and developing front desk staff to provide concierge-quality services is essential,” said Worrall. “Staff should be able to offer residents additional amenities such as reservations at local restaurants and local personal trainers for their fitness needs. No matter where the building is located, a well-informed staff that knows the surrounding area can help residents make the most of their neighborhoods.”

Bring in the Experts

Another great way to offer exceptional service without spending a lot of money is to make life easier through vendor relationships. For example, unused space can easily be converted into a valet station for packages. The space is simply leased to a vendor and that business serves as package valet for residents, holding packages for pickup or delivering them to units when residents are home. Front desks often struggle to find the space to store packages for their residents. Having a contracted valet vendor to manage the storage of parcels, would be a win-win for the building and its residents.
Some buildings take it even further, offering retail stores on the lower floor(s) to make residents' lives even more convenient – from grocery stores to dry cleaners, and in some cases even bank branches. Residents benefit from the convenience of picking up their dry cleaning and possibly dinner right from their building.
Please be sure to discuss any changes to the property that may be considered to be material alterations or additions with the association’s attorney as there may be requirements or limits under the association documents and our governing law. Also, it would be a good idea to involve the attorney in any discussion regarding expenditures on amenities or services to be sure that such expenditures do not run afoul of any provisions of the documents or applicable law. Finally, be sure to get input from the association’s insurance agent on any changes in use that may impact the association’s coverage.
As the tastes and interests of residents continue to evolve, high-rise buildings would be wise to evolve with them. Adding the next generation of amenities to your building may seem like a daunting task, but as we pointed out, it doesn’t have to be. Nor does it have to mean big bucks for your building. If you stay on top of the trends and update your amenities, you are sure to maintain the marketability and curb appeal of your building. After all, keeping your current residents happy should always be your first priority, and if adding a few hot amenities attracts new buyers as well, then that’s a bonus.

To find out more about how your high-rise building can adapt to the latest amenities trends, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s largest property management company. 
Tuesday October 18, 2016