By: Bryan J. Rader, President, Pavlov Media

Developers see the value in expanding their amenities, which is driving value in their investments. Be sure to adjust to this trend as it will likely continue.

When our kids were little, I remember we took them to Disney World one fall break. We stayed at one of the nice on-site Disney resort properties. While I recall the amenities were over-the-top incredible (who would complain about Donald Duck enjoying pancakes with you at breakfast?), the hotel rooms were very tiny.

“All part of the plan,” one of my friends said. “You can’t spend more money when your family is holed up in your suite. They want you downstairs, shopping, eating, drinking.”

Makes perfect sense.  The amenities are big, bright, and exciting. They obviously made more of an investment in the resort services rather than the resort rooms themselves.

The apartment industry is doing the same thing.  Did you know that last year the average size of a newly built apartment fell by 30 square feet from 2021 to 2022?  This is the largest year over year drop on record, according to RentCafe. They also reported that the overall square footage of a multi-family floor plan is down 54 square feet in the past decade.

Yes, some of this is due to unit mix shifting to more one-bedrooms. But even the studios and one bedroom floor plans are shrinking.

This trend is occurring for several other reasons. Many residents want to live alone, and there are fewer roommate needs (although the next recession will change this dynamic very quickly).

Additionally, much of the apartment construction has occurred in urban environments, which naturally have smaller floor plans.  Take Seattle for instance. 82 percent of their new units are studios and one bedroom. But it is also happening in traditional big floor plan markets like Houston, Dallas and Charlotte.

It seems that real estate developers are using the same ROI formula as Disney World. (No, I don’t think they are paying Donald Duck to come to breakfast with residents). But they see the value in shrinking the apartment unit size while accelerating the growth in the size of the amenities.

One developer said that the amenities reflect the lifestyle of their customer today. They expect bigger fitness centers, coffee bars, outdoor gathering spaces, and pet walking areas. They will sacrifice a little square footage in their apartment for these much bigger amenities.

It makes sense. Residents are home more often and are using their communities differently than they did 10 years ago.  More active, mobile and home more often.

This is part of what is driving the need for managed Wi-Fi. This platform to deliver internet across the entire community is key to creating a great experience for the resident. But it also means that ISPs need to be prepared to truly address the larger amenity spaces and smaller floor plans. Having the right design, understanding the resident use cases, knowing your customer profile and target audience will impact how you design the network to support today’s resident’s needs.

In a recent meeting, one of our design engineers asked our client about their plans for a common space in the courtyard. “Oh, we expect to host parties and have live musical acts perform on the weekends.”

His eyes lit up and he said, “that’s why we ask. A hundred residents in a courtyard on a Friday evening is very different than one or two residents sitting with their dog on a courtyard park bench. We need to prepare for both.”

This trend is not going away. Developers see the value in expanding their amenities, which is driving the value in their investments. Be sure to adjust to this trend as it will likely continue.

Your network must be able to support everyone, even if it is Donald Duck early in the morning.