By Highlyann Krasnow,
Take a look at what New York City new developments have sold well recently and what rental buildings have low vacancies.
Compare these buildings to developments that are struggling to find buyers or rentals with slow leasing momentum. What are the differences between them?
The best-performing buildings have well-thought layouts, sustainable finishes and amenities that help sell or rent the residence.
Truthfully, the success of a new development is pre-determined during the initial planning and designing stages.
A knowledge of what inventory is on-the-market, what attracts buyers or renters to a particular neighborhood and the types of amenities that are in demand for a certain area are essential points to evaluate and analyze before a building even breaks ground.
Part of my role as a partner at MNS is working with developers to design their new development projects. It is imperative to design the right unit for that particular neighborhood in order to maximize price per square foot. This includes the correct unit sizes, a targeted unit mix and the best finishes for that specific property.
Below are several questions to consider to when planning and designing a successful new development:
Condo vs. Rental: Is the project condominium or rental? If it is a condominium then the unit size perimeters are different than a rental; rentals are usually smaller. The perimeters of a new development are dictated based on the neighborhood and the price per square-foot for that particular area. Establishing the right unit size is the first step to planning effectively.
Neighborhood: What neighborhood is the new development located in? Each neighborhood dictates a very specific size of units and unit mix. For example in Williamsburg, studios are more attractive because many young professionals live there, whereas in Brooklyn Heights, two-bedrooms are in high demand since it is more of a family-focused neighborhood.
Inventory: What is in the pipeline for the neighborhood? If you do not know what else is planned in a specific area you cannot plan a building correctly. Researching your competition before planning a new development is essential. What will attract a buyer or renter to your competition over your development?
Amenity Programming: What type of amenities fit the demographics of the building? As part of your initial research, you must determine the demographics for the area and your building. If you do not determine the demographic for a building, you cannot plan the correct amenity package. There is nothing worse than amenities that do not help either sell or rent the units and are never used – amenities should be a benefit to sales not an afterthought.
Finishes: How to determine the best finishes for a new development? Finishes are different in condominiums/rentals. While the sustainability of the finishes is always important, it is paramount in rental buildings since the materials have to last for multiple tenants. It is beneficial to use materials in both the interior and the common areas that will not damage or look bad over time, for example, white or light wall coverings in common areas. In condominiums it is also important to not over design the spaces.
Not everyone has the same taste, so be safe and choose a classic and neutral look. This strategy is especially important in large scale projects where you have hundreds of units to sell.
Additionally, if there is a finish or material that is exorbitantly priced, you should only use it if there is a calculated return on that investment. If the item will help get better pricing and absorption then it may be used – if not, then a less inexpensive solution should be found.
Maximize your space: How do you maximize living space? It is imperative to not waste livable square footage for large hallways or foyers. Finding ways to utilize odd or unused spaces for storage solutions can increase the value of the homes. Some storage solutions that I like are pantries in demising walls, linen closets in nooks and recessed medicine cabinets and integrated hampers in unused wall space.
Recently I have applied these planning and design guidelines to the amenities package I helped create at The Edge in Williamsburg, the top-selling building of 2012.
We designed the largest residential amenity package in Brooklyn, which included a pool, multi-function sports facility, steam rooms with lockers, screening room, virtual golf, video game console room, yoga studio and a terrace.
The creation of this amenity package circled back to knowing what types of buyers were looking in Williamsburg and what amenities would attract them to buy at The Edge over the other new waterfront developments.
At One Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn Heights, another top-selling building of 2012, we were able to maximize space by converting freight elevators into unique amenity spaces, such as gaming rooms, music room with grand piano and children’s art room.
The successes of these new developments all relay one message — effective initial planning and design equals great success.