Designing amenities with community in mind
April 15, 2017

Once upon a time, condo amenities consisted of little more than a sparsely-furnished lobby and, if you were lucky, an uninspiring party room reminiscent of the impersonal banquet halls of bar mitzvahs and Sweet 16’s. But as the urban lifestyle has evolved, so too has amenity programming. Today, forward-thinking developers like Collecdev are designing amenity programs that offer not just convenience, but a sense of community and a better quality of life.

According to BILD (the Building Industry and Land Development Association, an authority on all things construction and home related in the GTA), between October 2005 and October 2015 the average Toronto condo unit decreased in size from 908 to 767 square feet. While this reduction offers some benefits (more accessible price points for one), it also means that condo dwellers have less space to stretch out and entertain. Hence now, more than ever, amenities rule the roost.

As with any product, the savvier buyers become, the more they come to expect. And it’s safe to say that in a market where condos outsell detached homes by a ratio of roughly two-to-one, Toronto condo buyers are mighty savvy. That’s why today, amenities are no longer just about providing a convenient place to host a dinner party, but about encouraging frequent and meaningful interaction with neighbours and friends.

Even before a single resident has moved in, the programming of a condominium’s amenities is already top of mind as developers seek to provide maximum bang for the buyer’s buck. From state-of-the-art catering kitchens and sleek lounges in which to entertain, to well-equipped fitness facilities, kids play rooms, theatres, dog spas, yoga studios, and outdoor living areas, amenities are about extending the borders of the home.

In an odd reversal of the cart and the horse, businesses have been leading the way in community-minded amenities for over a decade. Google, West Jet, Red Bull – these companies know that to attract the best and the brightest they need to offer not just an office, but a shared community where employees can thrive.

Medibank, Australia’s biggest health insurance company, offers outdoor tennis courts, an indoor football pitch, and ‘rejuvenation’ spaces for employees to recharge throughout the day. At Make, a California-based community workspace, there is an 8,000 square foot indoor/outdoor fitness space and surfboard storage, natch. Instagram employees can grab a coffee from the onsite Blue Bottle Coffee Shop kiosk, then stretch out on one of the comfy couches in the library, with art supplies to spark a creative afternoon.

Condo developers are taking note, designing buildings with innovative amenities to attract intelligent buyers who appreciate a sense of shared community and common space.

Just what are the most popular amenities on the market today? According to a recent article, today’s purchasers are looking for:

  1. Rooftop lounges offering panoramic views and outdoor space.
  2. High-end health clubs that include state-of-the-art equipment, personal trainers, and small group classes.
  3. Vibrant lobbies where residents are greeted with cafes, reading rooms, and a helpful concierge.
  4. Lifestyle and entertainment services that organize resident events (such as lounge parties and wine tastings) bringing neighbours together.
  5. Kids’ playrooms offering spaces to learn, play, and socialize.
  6. Pet services like on-site grooming services, dog walkers, and even toys and other pet gear.
  7. Exceptional service modeled after the customer-centric philosophies pioneered by the hospitality industry.

The smartest buyers are looking to developers like Collecdev, who are taking the long view, knowing that not only will carefully considered amenities enhance quality of life today, but will endure, creating better value for tomorrow.

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