Rental offices and lobbies of multi-family properties have gone from disconnected spaces with a plethora of walls to transitional areas with warmth and personality. Today’s rental offices are open and blend into the clubhouse and common areas, which not only makes potential and current residents feel welcome, but also promotes the common use of these spaces. .
The design of common areas should meet the needs of potential tenants and residents. A well-designed and equipped rental area helps connect them to your property, and building that connection is what leads to residents not wanting to leave.
Moving from a dedicated office where prospects sit across from a large desk to a hospitality-inspired environment with plush armchairs or lounge seating provides a more comfortable vantage point from which to get an overview of your property. “We need to focus less on the transactional side of the rental experience,” recommended Kia Weatherspoon, president and founder of Determined by design. “At each touchpoint, I want to welcome someone into a space with softness and accessibility.”
An inviting or unique lobby or clubhouse can make your prospects’ experience more inspiring. “Art is the perfect introduction to a space,” Weatherspoon noted. When planning a reception area/lobby design in a multi-family project, she and her team intentionally incorporate art that reflects the community and culture of the area where the property is located. At Barry Farm, an affordable housing project in southeast Washington, DC, Weatherspoon has incorporated an interactive art exhibit, with images of notable community figures that light up the ceiling as people move through the lobby .
What feelings do your hall and rental spaces evoke? Rental and hospitality spaces should also foster an initial, warm connection, Barb O’Steen, senior director of real estate for gray starNorth Carolina and South Carolina portfolios, said. Residents who feel the sense of community will not want to leave.
Instead of a conventional rental desk, Greystar has incorporated a concierge-style rental desk into some of its properties, “We’re taking that whole barrier between you and your prospect out of the equation,” O’Steen noted. “Our associates are in constant contact with the residents.”
Also, too many enclosed spaces and separate offices can make the space feel cold and less inviting. The configuration of the room is essential, with spaces that transform into each other to provide the best experience. According to Katie Long, senior interior designer at Cortland Design“One of the most important aspects is the circulation of all these spaces, which is very important when you move through the visit route.”
Evoking feelings of accessibility and connecting with prospects can also be achieved through thoughtful additions like refreshments and fresh flowers. At some Cortland properties, there are beverage centers offering deals like kombucha or beer taps, according to Long. Having a welcoming team at your rental center to greet people is another way to create a welcoming experience.
The harmony also adds to the accessibility of the hall and pavilion spaces. There should be some sort of theme, rather than too many elements clashing with each other. Art and decoration should be well coordinated. Thoughtful details contribute to a holistic approach not only in your lobby and surrounding spaces, but also throughout the community.
Even with spaces that mix, such as coworking or lounge spaces, lobby seating, and amenities, residents want to be comfortable and “feel like they can congregate and meet new people.” people in these spaces,” according to Long. “We want them to see (these) areas when they’re on tour, so they can comfortably access them and decompress outside of their units.”
Innovation can provide more creative ways to make that connection on the first visit. To capture the interest of its 226-unit The Guild community in Charleston, SC, Greystar got creative with the design. When visitors and prospects enter the lobby, they are greeted with personalized fragrance and a signature playlist in the background. “We curated this playlist very carefully to match what we wanted people to feel when you walk into the building,” O’Steen said. “When they come in, they have to feel like their needs are going to be met. Above all, we provide comfort and warmth.
Read the June 2022 issue of MHN.