In multifamily development, amenities such as fitness centers, swimming pools, bicycle storage, and dog parks have long been passé; most renters don't give them a second look. This "amenities arms race" has forced developers to up the ante to compete for tenants, says Andrew Marshall, executive vice president of development at property management firm Roseland.
His company's new apartment building in Washington, D.C., is catering to fresh-food aficionados by bringing the grow-it-yourself movement to the city. Located on the H Street corridor not far from Capitol Hill, Station House maximizes its hip, emerging neighborhood with unexpected amenities geared toward food-obsessed urbanites.
New York–based developer Fisher Brothers put the emphasis on food activities, with a community garden atop one roof, a 20-foot-long harvest table for produce to be set out, and a demonstration and tasting kitchen where area chefs can show off their skills for tenants.
To reinforce the back-to-nature vibe, interior designers introduced a plant-based theme with a 43-foot-long terrarium in the lobby and others throughout the residential corridors. The game room serves up table tennis, Skee-Ball, and foosball, another unusual perk not found in most rental communities. Altogether, the amenity package totals more than 20,000 square feet.
"We wanted people to come home from work and enjoy a dynamic lifestyle with lots going on in the lobby, two courtyards, and three separate rooftops," Marshall says.
Fisher Brothers recognized a void in the area for a large-scale, multifamily dwelling after constructing Station Place, its trio of office buildings in the H Street corridor of Washington, D.C. "The area was on the precipice of change and offered a great location near Capitol Hill," says firm partner Winston Fisher.
To attract the anticipated millennial demographic, Fisher Brothers executives studied how the cohort lives. "We knew we needed large spaces for socializing but also pockets of intimacy," Fisher says. To achieve a balance, the firm hired cross-disciplinary expert and New York–based Rockwell Group for design and space planning.
While the building targets millennials, it also was designed to appeal to empty-nesters returning to the city. To suit these two demographics' varied needs, the apartments range from studios to three-bedrooms, sized from 415 square feet to 1,650 square feet with rents from $1,750 to $6,000. More than 90 plans are available.
Within the units, the look is the favored open-style loft, with high-end hickory floors and big windows, some facing the Capitol. In public spaces, Thom Forsyth, senior interior designer at Rockwell, displayed his firm's hip signature style with blackened steel, brass, reclaimed wood, and concrete materials and a jewel-tone palette.
Kitchens were designed to meet the high standards of foodie tenants who enjoy cooking with features such as movable islands, stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops, and vertically laid subway tile.
Residential corridors are carpeted in a cherry blossom design to pay homage to the city's famous trees. Forsyth also commissioned handcrafted furniture for greater personalization, designed a library wall to camouflage the mail room, and used marble at the concierge desk. The overall feeling is like a cool, welcoming hotel.
Designed to earn LEED Silver certification, the building features energy-efficient appliances, fixtures, and lighting as well as sustainable landscaping. Project designer and landscape architect Chris McFarlane of Landworks in Boston installed cisterns to capture rainwater; improved the streetscape with multilevel plantings; landscaped the courtyards; and designed roofs for the community garden, dining terrace, pool deck, and dog park.
Station House's amenities-driven lifestyle has sparked a noticeable change in the neighborhood. "A Giant [grocery store] and Whole Foods are going in, but townhouses are being preserved, [too]. It's a nice blend of development and preservation," Fisher says. "The area has gained its own hip identity."