By Patrick Winters, Design Director at Nadel Architects
In key markets across the country, a tremendous amount of renovation is taking place among existing, and often older, multifamily rental properties. Driven by competition with an ever-expanding supply of newer product, and the desire to achieve maximum possible rents, multifamily property owners are investing in significant upgrades to units, common areas and amenities.
Along with building interior investments, the following exterior renovations can improve a property’s competitive position and increase an owner’s return on investment.
Make a Bold Statement that “Something New is Happening Here.” Don’t rely simply on “refreshing” the existing design, as new competition often has the advantage of being more in tune with current design concepts. While budgetary and other constraints are always a concern, it is worth upgrading exterior materials such as porcelain tile and wood, enhancing exterior lighting for a dramatic effect and increasing the amount of glass at street-level to create a welcoming connection to the surrounding neighborhood. Bringing a contemporary design flair to an exterior with these key elements sends a message that the complex is up-to-date and well-run, without breaking the bank.
Tap into the Power of Landscaping. Thoughtful and generous landscape design attracts new tenants, and sends a message that extra care has been taken to provide an upscale environment. Additionally, the replacement of excessive hard paving with well-designed planters and materials such as decomposed granite speaks to environmental issues that increasingly concern Millennials and younger generations. In California in particular, the replacement of older, outdated plant materials with newer, drought-tolerant species such as succulents also reinforces the idea that management is concerned with the greater impact of its property.
Give Back to the Broader Community. Part of the attraction to apartment living arises from a desire for close connection to walkable community resources such as restaurants, shopping and entertainment. Furthermore, multifamily property owners who enhance building exteriors recognize the importance of this symbiotic relationship. Those who create a small pocket park, sitting area or other such public amenity, can take this relationship to the next level.
Nadel Architects has seen the benefits of such multifamily property exterior renovations firsthand, through the recent renovations of properties ranging from suburban-style garden apartments to urban high-rises. At the 255 Grand renovation in downtown Los Angeles, the firm replaced unsightly concrete with new raised planters along the entire street frontage and created a dramatic cantilevered steel trellis at the building entry. Besides enhancing the appearance of the building, these design elements create attractive patios for the ground-floor restaurant tenants, while also offering a place to pause and linger for the surrounding inhabitants. The building can now participate in the street life generated by destinations nearby including The Broad, LACMA and Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Across the board, these and similar upgrades can keep older properties competitive as the neighborhoods around them evolve.
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