When having a ‘pet spa’ is no longer enough: Amenities on the rise in upscale apartments

SkyHpuse Apartments amenity deck has a dog park.
SkyHpuse Apartments amenity deck has a dog park.

What do you do when a dog-washing station isn’t fancy enough for apartment renters anymore?

Up the amenities another notch: Built-in dog food and water bowls, Vitamin C-infusing shower heads (for the human renters), free local produce for tenants, rooms with tools for people to brew their own beer. Those are some of the suggested amenities for renters that an apartment design expert suggested at the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association’s 2017 forecast on Thursday.

“Just having a simple pet spa may no longer be enough,” said Jenn Zella, founding principal of CID Design Group. “They want something different, and not cookie-cutter.”

Here are five amenity trends in new apartments Zella said to watch for in 2017:

▪ Local, local local – especially for millennials

“This demographic in particular is really looking for a local connection,” said Zella. “Really push local.”

That could mean offering a selection of locally roasted coffee instead of Starbucks or a Keurig machine in the lounge, or fresh-baked goods for residents from a local bakery. Another amenity Zella said she’s seen: Produce from local growers given away on a first-come, first-serve basis.

▪ “Wellness”

“We need to start paying attention to it as an industry,” said Zella.

It might sound like a buzzword, but Zella said anything promoting health and wellness is hot. That could include anything from Vitamin C-infusing shower heads, lighting timed to circadian rhythms, air purifiers or flexible space in a gym offering a variety of fitness classes.

▪ A “makerspace”

“It’s the age of the maker,” said Zella. “People are really interested.”

Crafting interests from building furniture to woodworking, home canning to home brewing beer, are more popular than they’ve been in decades. But (as I discovered a few years ago), trying to build furniture in a small apartment can be disastrous. That’s why Zella said buildings should include a space for such projects, whether it be a kitchen set up for people to brew beer or a space with tools for vaarious projects.

▪ More for pets

We really love our pets, and they need amenities too. That can range from on-site veterinary care to doggie day care, built-in bowls for feeding that slide out from the bottom of kitchen cabinets to a dog park with pet “agility stations.”

▪ Way more technology

It seems like there’s no corner of an apartment that can get over-saturated with tech. From smart thermostats to smart recessed LED lighting to free rapid charging stations for electric vehicles, there are a lot of possibilities. The most outlandish: A Bluetooth shower head, which can connect to your phone and play music for you while you bathe.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo