Jun 04, 2019

EVP, Sheila Byrne Talks Apartment Amenities

  • 640 N Wells Amenity Space
Habitat's EVP of Property Management, Sheila Byrne, was recently interviewed for a piece in Multi-Housing News, regarding the next phase in luxury amenities! Read on to see highlights from the piece by Alexandra Pacurar and a link to the full article: 

Multifamily development is placing new emphasis on apartment amenities for authentic living. In the future, tech's role will be clearly defined, while spaces for mindful connection—with oneself and others—will be amonth renters' top favorites.

Of the many factors shaping multifamily design and development, one particularly powerful trend is creating apartment amenities for authentic living. The pervasive presence of technology is driving a search for experiences that are real, rather than virtual, and for genuine social contact. 

That may explain why the next generation of amenities is less about things than about intangible values. If we were to sum up the mission of these facilities in a single phrase, it might be “well being.” For residents across the generational spectrum, home is a safe, comfortable environment, but it is increasingly a place that provides the means to be healthy in body, mind and spirit.

“The type of amenities that are popular today and will continue to grow in popularity are foundationally designed around sustainability and wellness concepts that are adaptable and future-proof,” said Sheila Byrne, executive vice president of property management at The Habitat Co.  “Technology has enabled greater access to wellness information and has put personal health monitoring into the palms of our hands.”

Coworking lounges, pools, dog spas and fitness clubs are standard at many new developments, but it takes more than these features to attract Millennial or Gen Z renters. Climbing walls, squash courts, saunas and steam rooms or spectacular infinity pools provide alternatives to standard regular sports and leisure facilities. Selecting the right cutting-edge amenities is a crucial exercise, because amenities are a differentiator. The renter will choose the community with impressive, next-generation amenities over a comparable property with fewer such offerings.


Successors to the conventional common area are taking the form of spaces that encourage social interaction and chill time. “People are really looking for connection to their community and having a service that provides both an introduction to your amenity spaces, as well as your fellow residents, is sort of that key ingredient in what renters are looking for in their living experience,” Byrne explained.

Next on the hot list are customized, curated and on-demand services that cater to residents and make their lives easier and more enjoyable. These range from on-site car-sharing centers to concierge services that offer busy residents support for housekeeping, pet care and other chores.


Despite technology’s central role in the home, some intriguing research hints at generational differences in how that role is perceived. A study by the cloud-based platform Vision Critical and MARU/VCR&C shows that 36 percent of Millennials “strongly agree” that science and technology can solve the world’s biggest problems; for Gen Z, that percentage slips to 30 percent. This suggests that the next cohort of renters may place somewhat less emphasis on software and hardware in the homes.

Some forward-thinking developers are planning their facilities with an eye toward giving residents a break from the constant barrage of electronic devices. Another example of apartment amenities for authentic living is the growing popularity of dedicated spaces for technology detox. These can be quiet spaces or meditation areas where noise and disruptive behavior is are not allowed. The rooms are off limits to computers and cellphones; instead, human interaction is encouraged.

“These detox spaces serve as a physical reminder to take a moment to yourself, and take a break from scrolling, so that you can refocus and sort of recharge, since sometimes our attachment to tech can be draining,” Byrne said.

Tech will be used to simplify our daily lives, while screen time will be limited in exchange for experiences that take place outdoor or focus on human interaction.


For developers and owners considering apartment amenities for authentic living, the question is ultimately a matter of return on capital. Is it worth investing in this new generation of amenities? Early indications are that the answer is yes. Cutting-edge amenities generate an average increase in monthly rent of up to $150, Byrne estimates, but the exact premium depends on myriad factors. And residents seem to have no problem paying more.

Things might change in the future, as Gen Z constitutes become the main renter pool. The Vision Critical report shows that those born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s are more conservative spenders than their Millennial counterparts. The financial aspect will lose ground compared to other values, such as sustainability.

To read the article in its entirety, please click HERE