Rooftop lounges and pools. Fitness centers with yoga rooms. Zen gardens and bocce ball courts.
These sound like the features of high-end boutique hotels, but they are becoming the norm for the newest generation of large multifamily residential complexes in major metropolitan areas. Developers are competing to attract the 21st-century workforce and retiring baby boomers, all with discerning lifestyle requirements.
In the greater Washington, D.C., area, for example, companies installing the finishes in multifamily residential units are seeing a dramatic shift in demand. Standard hardware for apartments used to be blinds, shelving and door hardware. Today, you’ll see such amenities as indoor bike racks and dog-washing stations.
Apartment Living has Evolved
Thirty years ago, apartment complexes all looked largely the same, and the hardware builders required was pretty basic. That was back when homeownership was the American dream, and apartments were sold as just a temporary stepping stone.
Today’s apartment communities are being marketed to people who have made deliberate choices to pursue the urban lifestyle they are helping to redefine.
CIP Finishes, a Virginia firm that furnishes and installs finishing hardware in large multifamily projects, has seen this trend from the inside out. Finishing hardware includes everything from bathroom towel racks and wire shelving, to interior door hardware, to fire extinguishers and mailboxes in common areas. It’s at this very detailed level of hardware components that a change in apartment living trends is becoming evident.
For one thing, the amenities in common areas are being built to a new and higher standard. CIP Finishes has worked with some of Washington, D.C.’s largest developers and builders to create indoor basketball courts, bike-repair stations, mirrors in workout rooms that rival high-end health clubs and indoor bike racks that maximize small spaces by allowing bikes to be stacked in all kinds of configurations.
Technology is also part of this evolving trend. In the past few years, CIP Finishes has begun installing backlit mirrors, and the firm’s leadership expects the next step to be web-enabled mirrors that display the weather, time, news and more. Door locks have evolved from keys to key fobs, and the CIP team is already prepared for the era of smartphone-enabled locksets.
Transforming Urban Living
The Washington, D.C., apartment market is a prime place to see the trend toward a higher-end apartment living experience in action.
In Fairfax County, just south of the District, the newly developed Mosaic District is bringing residents into a dense community of apartments mixed with retail, entertainment and employment centers, all located close to public transit. CIP Finishes installed finishing hardware in two large apartment complexes within Mosaic, which is being developed by the Mill Creek Residential Trust.
These complexes include a total of more than 400 residences, and their interiors include high-end elements such as European-style cabinetry, plank-style wood flooring, energy-efficient stainless-steel appliances and quartz countertops.
Common amenities include a rooftop deck, cyber café, fitness center, TV/theater room, “hotel-inspired” pool and a gas fire pit. These are features that many homeowners long to add to their residences, and apartment developers are betting big that they can keep spaces leased by promising these high-end features without the burden of a mortgage.
Other areas within the District and along its outskirts are also following this trend. CIP recently installed finishing hardware for builder L.F. Jennings on Reed Row, an apartment community in the popular Adams Morgan neighborhood. Located within the heart of the city, this complex is marketed as “the height of urban sophistication,” and its amenities include a penthouse sunroom, rooftop Zen garden, dog spas, bike repair stations and a rooftop grilling area with scenic views of Washington, D.C.
The individuals who live in these smartly appointed apartments are millennials, empty-nesters and some are families with children. All of them have a desire to spend less time commuting, less time maintaining a yard and home and more time doing things they enjoy — like playing bocce ball and taking yoga classes — activities that say something about who they are.
Finishers are playing a key role in reflecting the changing tastes and lifestyle interests of today’s apartment-dwellers, who have a different vision of the American Dream.
Featured photo courtesy of Niles Bolton Associates. The Trellis House in Washington, D.C., will offer residents a long list of amenities, including an elevated interior courtyard with a pool and grill area; a large clubhouse with a fitness studio, yoga room, clubroom and business center; a pet “spa” for bathing companion animals; a test kitchen for cooking events and demos; a private dining room; and a sky terrace with a hydroponic growing room and views of the Washington skyline.
Paul Milde is founder and president of CIP Finishes, a specialty construction firm that furnishes and installs interior hardware in large multi-family residential, commercial and related projects in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and other regions. CIP Finishes is based in Stafford County, Virginia.