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Five Ways in Which New Hampshire’s Multifamily Developers Are Making Life Easier

Residences at Riverfront Landing in Nashua features standard Class A amenities such as a fitness center and resident clubhouse/lounge, as well as newer offerings like package lockers, rentable storage units and electric vehicle charging stations.

As the saying goes, “nothing worth having comes easy.” While this is true in many ways — especially in the real estate business — the multifamily market in New Hampshire is putting this saying to the test.

Design and technology trends represent innovative ways to make life easier for new residents. The result is a revolution in convenience and lifestyle across developments from Nashua to Pittsburg and everywhere in between.

Five trends in particular are driving this revolution in the multifamily space.

1. Maximum Flexibility

“Flexibility” is a term thrown around in real estate now more than ever. The line between traditional commercial and residential spaces is blurry, with an ever-increasing focus on creating flexible work and gathering areas. Cubical farms are out and coworking spaces are rapidly expanding.

The result is a blending of residential and commercial experiences, with office décor that feels like home and homes designed to act as secondary offices. Collaborative gathering areas, which would have been considered foreign just 10 years ago, are now a focal point in new buildouts. Tenants and developers see these spaces as “must haves,” not “nice to haves.”

Lisa DeStefano, Maugel Architects

Flexibility also spills over to simple multifamily concepts such as package deliveries and pets. Apartment projects are now featuring lockers to secure Amazon, FedEx and UPS parcels. Dead spaces are transitioning into pet parks and wash areas. These and many other flexible amenities are the norm, and residents are clamoring for more.

2. Top-Notch Smarts

Technology in multifamily development has come a long way, but it still has further to go. Walking over to your thermostat and adjusting an analog dial is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Now, residents want to grab their phones, open an app and control the temperature with a swipe of the thumb.

In fact, since the proliferation of Home AI systems like Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa, residents can simply “tell” the thermostat to turn up a notch or two. Smart amenities can go even further: Indoor and outdoor cameras that are controllable from anywhere at any time on any device, or door locks that can be controlled in the same manner, are also commonplace. Each of these “nice-to-have” features is now in demand and sought out by consumers.

3. Newest of the New

The smart device revolution is still ongoing. High-efficiency appliances, smart bathrooms with bathtubs that can be instructed — yes, instructed — to fill automatically to a certain temperature and at a specific water level are in high demand.

Refrigerators that know when the milk is just about gone or allow you to create a shareable shopping list in real time with your spouse, partner or roommate may sound like science fiction, but they are a reality for a rapidly growing segment of the market.

The overall function of the bathtub and refrigerator may have been consistent over the past 70 years, but users’ expectations of how they should interact with these and other appliances are changing the way we design and build multifamily housing.

4. True Socialization

Design is also growing more focused on the ways that people interact with one another. This is translating into a greater emphasis on social connections. Facilities designed to be walkable, common areas that encourage conversation and amenities that benefit from resident cooperation, like rooftop gardens and fitness centers with space for shared classes all exemplify this trend.

These design goals create stronger resident retention in the properties at which they are introduced. The Riverfront Landing development in Nashua, New Hampshire, is a great example of this philosophy in action.

5. Full Connectivity

A final trend impacting multifamily design and development involves the change happening within transportation. Uber and Lyft have made cars optional instead of mandatory. Electronic scooters and autonomous vehicles are on the cusp of solving the “last mile” problem in the context of multifamily living.

These changes are creating new opportunities in design. For example, in some cases, portions of a first-floor covered parking garage could be designed with the flexibility to become commercial space when parking is not in such demand.

What’s Next?

The beauty of these trends in multifamily design and development is that we’re still discovering new potential uses for spaces and technology. Nothing worth having comes easy, but as these trends continue to morph, life’s little quirks will become easier to manage.

— By Lisa DeStefano, principal, Maugel Architects. This article first appeared in the November/December issue of Northeast Real Estate Business magazine.

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