New apartment construction is raging all across metro Denver and the race is on for developers to build attractive rental properties for active downtown dwellers who seek a vibrant building community and neighborhood. As the lyrics to one of my favorite country music songs go, “If you’re gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band,” I think the saying applies for developers vying for a piece of downtown Denver’s luxury rental market, “If you’re gonna build in Denver, you better have an amenity plan.” Here’s some insight on the unique amenities offered in newer luxury downtown rental properties, how smart developers are achieving their leasing goals faster than the competition and my prediction for new amenities to come in luxury downtown Denver rental buildings.
Broadly speaking, amenities include both interior apartment finishes (dishwasher, washer/dryer, gourmet-style kitchens, views, terrace, private parking) and property amenities (gym, pool, heated garage, bike work shop, courtyards, etc.). Since developers started building smaller apartment units, the focus has shifted to put more emphasis on the amenities offered. Unlike my experience in New York City where residents pay additional fees for use of the amenities, properties in Denver include most amenities in the rent. Exceptions would be parking, which, in downtown is starting to get pricey!
What’s cool? Smart developers are winning over new residents by building relationships with local small businesses and venues in the neighborhood to offer residents complimentary membership access to places like health clubs, spas, museum memberships and VIP restaurant access. Some notable on-site amenities at new properties across metro Denver include concierge, climbing walls, herb gardens, heated parking garages, ski/board/bike repair shops, guest suites for visiting family and friends, yoga studios with free weekly classes, pet washes, lap pools, roof decks and gardens, and free wi-fi. Most larger complexes offer group rates to residents on tickets to sporting events around town including Nuggets, Rockies and Avalanche games!
What sucks? Amenities built with good intentions but followed through by poor planning. For developers new to the Denver climate, take note; Pools and hot tubs are a popular amenity in the winter! I recently toured a building that began leasing mid-summer where the developer built a seasonal pool (Memorial Day – Labor Day use only), and no hot tub! Keep in mind this is a “luxury” property downtown with one-bedroom base rents of $1,500/month. The disappointment is pretty obvious among most people who see a property and learn that their already record-high rent is being wasted on an amenity offering limited access. Another amenity fail is “Valet Trash.” This is a service that comes with a fee, typically around $25/month (or at least built into your rent), that lets residents put their trash outside their apartment door in the hall for pickup between certain hours. Most feedback I hear from clients is that valet trash is an unnecessary service and is an unpleasant site when people have trash in the hall, stinking up the halls and residents who don’t pick up right away. Keep the trash and recycling chutes and skip the fancy trash service.
Why are amenities in demand? Coloradans are active! Amenities build and enhance a rental or condo community. They become a meeting place for residents and offer opportunities to get to know your neighbors, network or enjoy a cold beer while watching the sun set from your hot tub or roof deck. Residents love the convenience of fitness centers and concierge services offered in their building.
What’s to come? I think one of the coolest amenities I saw as a Rental Broker working in New York City were cheerful play rooms for families with kids who lived in the building. My hunch is that kids play rooms are the next home run on-site amenity for developers and here’s why: There will always be families who want to be right downtown and with smaller apartment homes and it’s tough to keep a kid (or more) happy – unless you have an on-site imaginative play room! No mess in your apartment and especially awesome for kids birthday parties or play dates! I remember this amenity being super-popular in Manhattan and my clients appreciation of an onsite play room to take their kids to or have a babysitter accompany them.
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