10 Ways to Take Your Rooftop to New Heights

Making your high-rise more marketable starts at the top: the rooftop! Make the most of this often-overlooked space to offer creative and imaginative amenities that appeal to today’s buyers. Great high-rise rooftop spaces also have a way of infusing more resort style living into your building.

“Many people who live in urban environments have a favorite rooftop lounge or hotspot,” says Trent Harrison, market president, FirstService Residential. “Savvy condo association boards are taking a cue from those great spaces and creating similar experiences on their own rooftops.”
 
Amazon’s HQ2 is going to bring thousands of new buyers to Arlington County and the surrounding area in the very near future, so it’s more important than ever that your high-rise stands out in the crowd.
 
Check out these ideas to take your rooftop to new heights!
 
  1. Grilling stations. It’s just not summer without a cookout. Unfortunately, high-rise dwellers don’t often get the chance to savor the season with some home-cooked barbecue. Providing a few communal grilling stations gives them that and provides opportunities for community cookouts too.
  2. Gardens. Resident-managed rooftop gardens are a great way for your homeowners to grow fresh food and enjoy the meditative qualities of growing vegetables without needing to buy a plot of land. If that sounds like a lot of work, consider a meditation garden with a small pool or fountain, benches and green plants or wildflowers that are lower maintenance.
  3. Fire pit lounges. A fire pit is a great way to lengthen the rooftop lounging season, especially in the relatively mild climate of eastern Virginia and southern Maryland. Some comfy cushioned benches or lounge chairs (and a table of S’mores ingredients?) will complete the picture.
  4. Pool. Indoor or outdoor, a rooftop pool is guaranteed to make a splash with residents. Luxurious options like saltwater or infinity pools can really set your rooftop apart and increase the marketability of your property.
  5. Cabanas. Have it made in the shade with artful, comfortable cabanas and lounge chairs.
  6. Fitness center. Enjoy your workout from a different perspective. Whether it’s cardio, lifting, yoga or Pilates, a rooftop fitness area makes any workout anything but routine.
  7. Fun for kids. Creating your own minipark – complete with playset – on your rooftop provides a fun space for kids and their parents. Millennials have indicated that having families doesn’t mean they want to abandon the convenience of high-rise living, so it’s smart to cater to that with family-friendly perks and amenities.
  8. Pet-friendly perks. Your rooftop can go to the dogs (in a good way) when you turn it into space for residents’ four-legged friends to run, walk and play. A pet spa is also an option for anyone with a posh pooch. Outside vendors will be happy to have access to your residents!
  9. Restaurant or bar. Turn your rooftop into a scene all its own with an innovative restaurant or bar concept. If you’re lucky to have panoramic views, everything you serve will come with a side of wow.
  10. Combo it up. For the ultimate rooftop hotspot, consider mixing it up with a combination of any of these concepts.
Obviously, some of these ideas require more investment than others. Adding a pool or restaurant to the roof calls for a lot more planning, time, expertise and money than adding some benches and a fire pit. If your budget doesn’t allow for a significant capital improvement project to dress up your rooftop, consider a loan to finance it. The capital improvement project will increase your property values and make your residents happier (once it’s done!), so it may be an investment worth making.

“Borrowing money for capital projects has become common practice in the community association industry. Unlike a special assessment, a bank loan allows unit owners to pay for the construction project over a long period of time to soften the burden of the upfront cost on the owners,” explains Drew Ahrensdorf, vice president at FirstService Financial, which provides best-in-class financial services to communities managed by FirstService Residential. “With interest rates at historic lows and a competitive banking landscape driving down the cost of capital, accessing financing has become an attractive funding strategy.”
 
Always consult with your association attorney and governing documents before applying for a loan to ensure you don’t run afoul of your association’s bylaws. Tell your insurance agent as soon as you embark on any capital improvement project! In addition to the added value you want to cover, you need to make sure that you’re covered as far as liability coverage, etc. while work is going on. 
 
Any of these ideas would dress up your rooftop, but it’s always a good idea to bring residents into the process by soliciting them for their thoughts. You may be surprised at some of the fresh and fun ideas you get. And of course, a good property management company can provide some thoughts too – and work as your trusted partner through the design and build process.