Lenox Ridge: A Millennial Paradise In Transitional North Austin
MEP Delta Design recently completed a multi-family housing development project in Austin, TX that specifically targets tech professionals, a majority of which are part of the age demographic known as “millennials.” Lenox Ridge is a 10-acre apartment community that has begun construction on the southeast corner of MoPac and Scofield Ridge Parkway, just north of The Domain. With unit sizes ranging from 600 sq. ft. for a 1bd/1bath to the larger 1,380 sq. ft. 3bd/3bath unit; the new development’s amenities and location near Austin’s tech sector is indicative of a growing trend in the multi-family housing market.
The Millennial Factor
Millennials make up a growing majority of professionals in the tech sector and telecommuting workforce that has a burgeoning presence in today’s labor market. Tech companies such as Apple, Amazon, and Google have embraced the telecommuting workforce concept to entice more qualified talent to join their ranks.
With this growing force in the labor market, the demand for housing, usually of the upscale variety increases. Millennial tech sector and telecommute professionals are driving many of the trends we are seeing in multi-family housing both in design, amenities, and location. Their needs for connectivity, central location, nearby social hubs, and modern touches of technology are just some of the trends that have developers eager to meet their needs in a grand, yet affordable way.
Technology, Community & The 20-Minute Bubble
Millennials in this stage of their career, particularly in the tech sector are very career driven and tend to prefer low maintenance, technology laden residences that are located within what’s known as a “20-minute bubble.” Due to their busy work schedule and on-the-go lifestyle, millennials want to live where everything they need and want on a daily basis is within a 20-minute walk or short Uber ride from their residence.
That being said, millennials tend to have an affinity for properties that offer more of a connected presence than traditional communities to support their telecommute needs. While many traditional apartments have small business centers now, it’s usually a couple of computers and that’s it. The growing trends however in communities such as Lenox Ridge are amenities such as common area work studios with high speed Wi-Fi, workstations and many other features.
Lenox Ridge is doubling down on this trend in offering a 1,600 sq. ft. shared workspace studio complete with private and community offices as well as conference rooms residents can reserve. Rounding out the work studio is convenient access to communal printers, scanners, an open-floor lounge and even a hospitality bar. This allows debt-ridden (usually student debt) millennial professionals to still have the convenient workspace and office needed for their career, without having to spend more on a larger living space.
In addition to the shared workspaces, millennials want communities that keep up with the technology that’s used in social circles and the e-commerce world. It’s no secret that millennials grew up in the smartphone and “app” boom, so they are heavily dependent on technology to live, work and play. They want Amazon hubs on-site to pick up their packages; portals online for residents to communicate with the concierge, make rent payments online, as well as a social media portal for residents to communicate and coordinate social events on property.
An example of this can be seen at many similar properties on weekends during the summer, where it isn’t uncommon to see the pool area filled with 20-somethings and a DJ spinning tunes in one of the cabanas. This is not an amenity provided by the property; it is the residents that organize thru their portal, hire a DJ, catering and other accoutrements and throw a complex-wide pool party. It’s close, it’s sociable and it’s conveniently within their 20-minute bubble.
The 20-Minute Bubble
Millenials needs for a compressed “bubble community,” makes perfect sense when you consider their economic situation at this stage of their life. Saddled with enormous student debt in most cases, their focus is on their career and being thrifty to have some disposable income for social life which they tend to be very active in. Having a house payment, property taxes, home maintenance, and a car payment doesn’t usually fit into their lifestyle yet.
Having an apartment that offers many of the same amenities as a nice home, albeit on a shared basis in some aspect, is a perfect fit for their needs. Combined with being located in walking distance to retail centers, restaurants and bars and entertainment venues; you have the 20-minute bubble millennials are seeking. With the rise of ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft, tenants like those that will live at Lenox Ridge, can eliminate the burden of owning a car without sacrificing their social life.
On the same spectrum of millennials debt levels, student loan debt reached an all-time high in 2017 and adults under the age of 25 have little to no savings. This translates into the near future prospects of millennial home ownership slim to none. Millenials still want a taste of the luxury that they will likely be able to afford in a home much later in life, right now.
Developers are noticing and offering light touches of luxury such as concierge service, gated entries with security guards and apartments equipped with washer and dryer units. Other amenities popping up on the radar are on-site dog parks, smart HVAC systems and electric car charging stations. These are just a handful of the added value luxuries developers are using to lure millennials to their properties and it is working. This demographic has proven to be quite thrifty when shopping for apartments and will base much of their decision on the amenities included. They are trying to save as much as they can but at the same time, they can always turn their apartment into extra income if they need to.
Almost 50% of millennials under the age of 25 that are looking at communities like Lenox Ridge are interested in properties that allow them to use their apartment to earn extra income through home-sharing apps like Airbnb. While the home-sharing economy is not a major impact on the GDP, it is incredibly important in how it is shaping commercial real estate for the future as well as maximizing tenants return on their rent.
The future is actually here now. A developer in Kissimmee, Florida is designing a multi-family housing development specifically with home-sharing in mind. Units are set to include smart features such as keyless entry and safe storage closets for valuables for tenants sub-letting their rentals for short-term periods.
What Does The Future Hold?
If current trends are a solid indicator of the influence of technology and social media on generations that grew up with it at its peak of innovation; developers have to be tuned into the young professionals of today and of future generations. Gen Z consumers will likely be even more connected then millennials of today and buildings must be wired for the technology highway, electrical must be able to accommodate the added load and communities have to develop around the complexes if they want to tap into these future markets. MEP Delta Design can help your firm plan for this dynamic change and stay on the forefront of multi-family housing design. Contact one of our consultants today to bring us on board with your next project.