Amenities Drive Luxury Rental Choice

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As in many parts of the District, the Hill and nearby neighborhoods have seen their fair share of new luxury apartment buildings. Representatives of these new developments say that amenities are key to the success of these projects. Built with golf simulators, dog wash stations, indoor basketball courts, and rooftop pools with fire pits —let’s just say that developers are no longer depending on cable packages to attract tenants.

Instead, they’re betting that the various amenities will showcase the kind of lifestyle offered in a particular building or development, and attract new tenants in a competitive market made more so by the pandemic.

Space in the lobby at Beckert’s Park was designed to be flexible in use, and to reflect the hotel experience. Courtesy: Foulger-Pratt

Over the next 36 months, more than 42,000 luxury residential units are expected to be completed across the DMV, according to commercial real estate authority Delta Associates.

In the District, the average vacancy rate in luxury apartments is currently 6.8 percent, compared to 4.1 percent last year. The race to attract tenants is heating up, and developers say amenities are critical to attracting tenants.

Makes or Breaks a Project
“I think today, it’s what makes or breaks a project,” said Feras Qumseya, Vice President of Foulger-Pratt. The company developed Beckert’s Park, a brand-new lifestyle concept at 1350 E St. SE, which began leasing in September.

Qumseya said the amenities chosen for Beckert’s Park were intended to be a one-stop shop for anyone who wants to live on the Hill, from young singles and families to older couples.

A glass wall separates the six-hoop indoor basketball court from the gardens at The Garrett, the newest building in The Collective. Courtesy: WC Smith

In addition to the golf simulator and the 60,000 square foot Safeway on the ground floor, Beckert’s Park offers a multi-purpose sports court that can be used for “almost any sport,” an aquatics court that combines a pool with outdoor seating, a fitness center, and a co-working space. That space was originally designed with entrepreneurs and young professionals in mind, Qumseya said, but is now attractive to a wider group. The “co-working lounge” includes booths for increased privacy.

Tenants are looking for quality of life, and that is not defined by the four walls of an apartment, he said, but by the experience in the community you’re living in — the microcommunity, within a building, and the macrocommunity, or the neighborhood. Those experiences as facilitated by the available amenities, Qumseya added.

Seating arranged around fire pits in the Southside Outdoor Terrace at the Residences at Eastern Market. Courtesy: Bozzuto

“The more that you can differentiate yourself by what you can offer to people who are seeking quality of life in a building, the better,” he said.

Qumseya said that the development used the Beckert family, former owners of the block, as inspiration.The Beckert formerly ran an amusement park, brewery and ice cream factory on the property. “The Beckert family created a fun environment on that block, and we wanted to maintain and honor that quality of life,” Qumseya said.

Community
VP Property Management for the Collective Samantha Branchaud said that amenities are especially important in the current market because the additional spaces allow residents to safely work, work out and relax all while remaining within their building.

Lights are strung above the rooftop infinity pool at Agora, part of The Collective group of buildings. Courtesy: WC Smith

The Collective is actually a group of three apartment homes located where the Navy Yard and Capitol Riverfront neighborhoods meet (800 New Jersey Ave. SE). The Collective includes the Park Chelsea, Agora and now, The Garrett, which just opened in September.

Residents can take advantage of the amenities at all three buildings in The Collective, no matter which they live in, opening up three rooftop patios, two dog parks and one of the last commercial Peloton Cycling rooms for use (Peloton discontinued commercial sales to multifamily housing developments last year).

The Garrett (150 I St. SE) brings a tennis court with a parabolic wall where you can play versus yourself, a six-hoop indoor basketball court, infinity pools, an outdoor jungle gym and a rooftop fitness center to the mix. The new addition also features a collective co-working space, including hot desks, dedicated desks and private offices together with a kitchen and conference area.

Part of what is so attractive about The Collective, said Branchaud, is that it is a community. Management has continued to host events, such as virtual cooking demonstrations (the latest on Balinese cuisine), and they are very well-attended.

Tenants don’t need to leave their buildings to find that community. They meet their neighbors virtually, or upstairs at the rooftop fitness center, popping downstairs for groceries and out into the neighborhood for events on the waterfront or on the Hill.

“It really is more about creating a lifestyle that compliments all the amenities in the city,” said Branchaud. “So, it adds to people’s lives.”

Integrated into the Neighborhood
Tenants at the Residences at Eastern Market (777 C St. SE) can pop down to get some groceries at Trader Joe’s, or to drop off their children at the child care facility located in the ground floor. Bozzuto Regional Portfolio Manager Meredith S. Coules said that the location and the neighborhood is a huge amenity as well.

The building is located near historic Eastern Market, where tenants can take advantage of the food offered daily by established community merchants, or enjoy the atmosphere of the weekend flea markets. Coules said that Bozzuto partners with the community for residential events, including wine tastings with Barracks Row wine boutique DCanter.

The Residences at Eastern Market were developed by EastBanc, probably best known for creating luxury European-Style condominium buildings such as 1055 High and 3303 Water Street. Principal Philippe Lanier said EastBanc wanted to offer that quality to renters.

Upstairs, the building offers a view of the Capitol building from the Grill Terrace, near the rooftop pool. Doors from a lounge open into the landscaped private courtyard called ‘The Grove,’ and the building offers professional sports training with Peloton bikes and SKILLMILL trainers in the fitness center. Residents have personalized in-home services through Hello Alfred, a full-service concierge that does everything from picking up groceries and dry-cleaning to watering plants or scheduling maintenance.

“As the developer, we weren’t targeting a specific demographic as we much as a specific kind of user,” Lanier said. “The amenities were designed to give you a very comprehensive living experience in an urban center.”

As luxury rental units are completed and go on the market, amenities will play a part in the decisions people are making about how they want to live their new normal, Lanier said.

“We’re early in this adjustment and many people are staying in place, deciding what the next move is,” Lanier said. “This is right at the point, where you’ve come out of that first four, five months where you’re trying to figure out how to adjust your living style and which home suits it.”

Learn more about Beckert’s Park by visiting www.beckertspark.com, about The Garrett and the other properties at The Collective at thecollectivedc.com and about the Residences at Eastern Market at www.liveateasternmarket.com. You can also mask up, walk into the buildings and ask for a tour.