5 Elements Residential Developments Need To Attract Millennials
Today, new construction housing is often all about Millennials, as we know from our work designing building amenities and model home interiors. It’s a numbers game: new 2016 Census Bureau stats show this 75.4-strong cohort is the largest U.S. generation to ever live, outnumbering America’s decreasing 74.9 million Baby Boomers and 66 million Generation Xers. Architects, builders and developers who build housing that ignores millennial lifestyle trends and working preferences risk unsold or unrented units.
How so? Millennials have definitive wants, needs and values that shape their real estate choices, as noted in my recent Huffington Post piece. And this trend is only going to get more pronounced in the future since America’s Millennial generation is still on the upswing as immigration adds to its ranks, notes Pew Research Center. Factor in CNBC’s recent observation that Millennial spending power is reaching new heights as they mature, and it’s clear that the housing industry needs to give Millennials what they want.
What Do Millennials Want?
Given the numbers and their impact on our industry’s bottom line, we pay close attention to Millennial lifestyle trends in the public spaces and model home interiors we design and merchandise. We’ve found that above all, this generation values public spaces and building amenities that fulfill the following five ideals.
Create community: With so many millennial working remotely, they crave shared public spaces that foster community rather than just interaction, yet are also packed with amenities. Run into someone at the mailbox and it sparks associations; make sure the environment flows into a comfy multi-purpose space and it builds community. Essentials for today’s Millennial lifestyle trends include full-service fitness centers, smart—and smartly appointed—multi-purpose lounges, refreshment zones with gratis eats and tech hubs with state-of-the-art equipment.
By day this lobby functions as a sales center and management office; by night it’s all about shared space for residents. (Image: Mary Cook Associates)
Offer flexibility & function: Achieving this goal means taking the back of the house out of the back of the house, and putting it front-and-center where the action is. Here’s an example: lobbies used to be pristine and often palatial spots for resident and guest reception. Today, they incorporate everything from reception and mailroom functions to state-of-the-art tech hubs, transformable workspaces and out-in-the-open property management headquarters. In a project we just completed, the mailroom, leasing headquarters and management office are all contained in a huge entrance hall; after-hours they transition into a state-of-the-art tech center and lounge thanks to the space’s design, layout and double-duty furnishings.
Reception areas become lounges in off-hours. (Images: Mary Cook Associates)
Fulfill lifestyle needs: Routine laundry rooms, grungy storage cages and pedestrian lobbies are Millennial buzz-kills. Today, we design them to be areas where community can happen. Laundry rooms get nice folding tables and chairs that can be grouped any way, and complete tech set-ups so residents can hang out, work, wait on their wash and perhaps meet their future mate. Storage areas have to accommodate bicycles, which spur the need for tool shops and workbenches. Craft areas are also important to both sexes. Service hallways must be nice because they see a lot of use, and if they lead to a dog washing station, even better.
Large rooftop communal spaces are a plus. (Image: Mary Cook Associates)
Have shared outdoor space: Balconies are a plus, but this generation grew up with shared community gardens and green roofs. They also value dog runs for times when it’s hard to take long walks. Terraces and swimming pools are also high value, but they must incorporate outdoor kitchen elements such as grills, extra-large communal tables and Wi-Fi to make them a hit.
Weathered wood panels add an earthy touch to an industrial aesthetic. (Image: Mary Cook Associates)
Incorporate smart style: While durable, low-maintenance fixtures and furnishings are a must,
also have to pack the right punch. While their parents were style purists, Millennials are the consummate mix-masters and have spurred the rise of retailers such as Restoration Hardware and CB2 with hybrid industrial-yet-earthy aesthetics that are often topped off with kicky colors and art. All these components must be present in the public spaces, and units, that are built with this generation in mind.
To see what Millennials want in their residences, please see our companion piece, 5 Features Millennials Want In Their Homes.