Calgary’s City Centre residential market is very competitive these days, which means developers are looking for ways to differentiate their new project from others. One method is to offer the latest and greatest amenities.
For example, Calgary-based developer Battistella lists one of the amenities at their new condo project, “NUDE” is a “Community Coordinator.”
Not to be outdone, The Underwood on First Street SW next to Haultain Park will be hiring a “Lifestyle Curator,” aka concierge to book reservations at restaurants, get theatre tickets, collect deliveries and give tips on what to see and do in the city.
While the concept of residential developers providing a “community coordinator” might seem like it is a new idea, luxury condos have, for decades, had doorman who offered some of these services. Leanne Woodward, The Underwood’s manager notes even with new amenity rich developments “if you visit them not long after occupation, the amenities will almost always be underutilized and, if used, used individually rather than in a community sense.”
As a result, The Underwood will be much more proactive in managing its amenities. Woodward says, “we will engage personal trainers who will come to site to show residents how to use the equipment and create a fitness plan and yoga teachers to teach classes. Our entertainment lounge will host tenant appreciation parties, be available for private parties, but also rotating life seminar classes such as how to invest, tax tips during tax season, wine tasting from local merchants.”
She adds, “the lifestyle curator’s role is to create a community within the building, to curate what the residents need to make their home into a community for all. The lifestyle curator will create blogs on the interactive tenant portal, curates gatherings, arranges specialized services when necessary and promote community and vitality throughout the building. The secondary role is to assist residents on an individual basis with parcel deliveries, recommendations for dining, transportation, hotel bookings, dry cleaning drop off and similar
Creating a strong sense of community, be it in a building, or in the ‘hood, is also evident in East Village where Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (who is managing East Village’s mega makeover) has three staff who help organize and promote everything from yoga to concerts, from pop-up events to this summer’s Bounce - a funky basketball court on an empty lot. All in an attempt to foster a stronger sense of community. University District staff are also busy organizing events to attract people to come and see what is happening in their new community and help new residents meet their neighbours.
Today, there are more than 7 million millennials (defined as those born between 1981 and 1996) in Canada. A 2018 Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation survey found millennials make up half of all first time homebuyers in Canada. Currently, about 300,000 millennials call Calgary home.
Given the condo is the new starter home, the millennial demographic is a huge market for condo developers.
In a 2017 Stanford University Press blog, Bob Kulhan (adjunct professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Columbia Business School, and the Founder and CEO of Business Improv) says, “millennials just want to have fun.”
Indeed, many millennials have had their lives curated for them since infancy. Many have never had a summer off to hang out on their own and make their own fun with neighbour kids. They went to week-long camps all summer – science, computer, sports, music, art etc. Their parents organized their lives to maximize their fun from cradle to condo.
So, it’s logical for Calgary multi-family residential developers to change how they not only design their suites, but also what amenities they provide to make living in their buildings more fun.
More Like Hotels
Many of the new City Centre residential developments are being designed with hotel-like amenities – meeting rooms, gyms, party rooms, hot tubs and yes, a concierge - something only available in luxury condos in the past.
For example, when Qualex Landmark found penthouse units didn’t sell well in Calgary, they designed their Mark on 10thproject (opened in 2016) with its top floor being an amenity space for use by all residents. With a hot tub, BBQ, kitchen and a huge lounge where everyone can mix, mingle and party. And, it offers some of the best mountain and downtown views in the city. It is a great place to chill, meet your neighbours or host a party that will impress your friends.
Today, it is common practice for mid and high-rise residential buildings in Calgary to have roof-top amenities.
Bucci Development’s recently completed Radius in Bridgeland offers 16,000 square feet of amenities including separate studios for yoga/barre, spin, weight and cardio training with state of the art equipment. It also offers the “SPUD” room, a common pantry that allows residents to order groceries online (at SPUD.ca) and have them delivered any day of the week. In addition, its 8,000 square foot roof-top patio is like having your own private pocket park.
SODO, another recently completed residential development on 10thAvenue SW in the Beltline has 38,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenities. On the fifth floor is a demonstration kitchen with a wine chiller and Nespresso coffee bar, as well as a Games Room with a huge pool table, 70” TV and a built in retro ‘60s arcade game system. Who needs to go to the sports bar? There is also a fully quipped gym. Outside are several BBQs, lots of lounge chairs and even a dog run.
Joe Starkman, CEO at Knightsbridge Homes who built the four University City condos calls millennials the “laptop generation” as they do everything on their laps. They don’t need space for a big TV as they watch Netflix and YouTube on their laptops or iPads, more than mainstream TV. They don’t need big kitchens as they eat takeout on their laps while listening to music. They don’t need space for a big stereo system complete with monster speakers as they use tiny wireless ear pieces or headphones. The phone is the new stereo.
He also says they like to entertain and have a large circle of friends making an open concept kitchen, dining, living space a must. Used to having their own bedroom and bathroom, a luxury master bedroom with spa-like bathroom is also important in attracting millennials.
What’s next? One City Centre high-rise residential developer is looking at either a craft brewery or distillery on site, perhaps even a small Food Hall with several micro food kiosks – think coffee, ice cream, tacos, sushi and donuts.
21stcentury urban development is all about creating fun entertainment experiences and conveniences. And developers are fully aware that these don’t just appeal to millennials. Empty nesters are attracted by these too!
Note: An edited version of this blog, was published in the Calgary Herald’s New Condo section on Saturday, June 29th 2019.
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