By Cecilia Chan
The amenities race in the apartment industry has been intensifying in the country over the past decade with 86% of new builds classified as luxury dwellings, a recent study said.
And Chandler is among the cities leading the pack.
Arizona in particular showed a tendency toward luxury living since 2012 with Chandler as well as Gilbert and Scottsdale seeing almost exclusively high-end apartments going up within their boundaries, according to a study by StorageCafe.
In the study’s top 20 list of High-End Apartment Living, Gilbert, Chandler and Scottsdale landed the No. 1, 2 and 4 spots, respectively, in the country, according to StorageCafe.
StorageCafe is a storage space search website that is part of Yardi Matrix, which develops and supports industry-leading investment and property management software for real estate companies.
For the past decade, all 4,000 apartment units that opened in Gilbert were categorized as luxury while Chandler boasted a rate of 99% – or 6,800 premium units – and Scottsdale had 98.5% or 8,600 deluxe units added to its housing inventory, according to study author Maria Gatea.
Mesa came in at No. 53 with 84% – or 3,794 units classified as luxury out of 4,502 units built.
The study analyzed 3.1 million apartment units built over the past decade in 100 of the nation’s biggest cities, looking only at complexes with 50 and more units, according to Gatea. The ranking is based on a patented property-rating system developed by Yardi.
“We considered luxury properties that the property ranking system determines to be in the A+, A, A- and B+ categories, based on a series of factors, including unit size, architecture, quality of construction, finishing details, amenities, and more,” Gatea said in an email.
“Newer communities tend to outdo older apartment stock with most apartment buildings now featuring state-of-the-art amenities and conveniences including cleverly designed interiors, smart home features, fitness centers, club houses and pools,” Gatea added.
Gilbert especially is becoming a hub for premier living, Gatea said.
“All these new apartment buildings come with resort-style pools and spas, manicured gardens and playgrounds, as well as more practical features like outside storage,” she said.
Other high-end amenities include common lounge areas with gaming stations, outdoor seating areas with gas grills and fire pits, bicycle storage spaces and bicycle repair shops, according to Gatea.
“Volleyball courts are also widespread in Gilbert – about 53% of the premier apartments built here over the past decade provide tenants with the opportunity to practice volleyball,” Gatea said.
And “pet-related conveniences are becoming increasingly popular in Gilbert’s newest complexes, with pet washing and grooming rooms or bark parks providing pampering options for the residents’ four-legged friends.”
Although Mesa didn’t make top ranking for luxury apartment living, it had the highest percent among cities analyzed for volleyball courts at 80%, the study said.
In Chandler, one of the more recent luxury apartment complexes to open is Zaterra at 200 W. Germann Road, where apartments range in size from 838-1,325 square feet,
Each apartment boasts nine-foot ceilings, wood-style floorings, designer fixtures, and washers and dryers. Among these features, Samsung smart stainless-steel appliances and granite countertops are part of the fully equipped gourmet kitchens, while private patios or balconies connect residents with the outdoors.
Additionally, each apartment has smart home technology including smart door locks, thermostats, and lights, which are all controlled with the MyAPT app by Cox.
Zaterra’s extensive amenity package includes electric vehicle charging stations, a community dog park (one for large breed and another for small breed dogs), a pet spa, a social club room with lounge seating, TVs and tabletop games, creative suites with a large conference room and individual private workspaces, 24-hour fitness center with on-demand classes and an outdoor yoga lawn, outdoor entertainment area, complimentary common area Wi-Fi for Cox customers, community playground and splash pad, grilling stations, two resort-style pools with hot tubs, cabanas and gaming lawns, 24-hour on-call maintenance, parcel pending package lockers, and more.
The now-opened SeventyOne15 McDowell in Scottsdale touts amenities such as a two-story clubroom boasting an upscale kitchen with complementary coffee bar, upstairs billiard games, and lounge seating, resort-style swimming pool with an adjoining spa, a two-story fitness center and a rooftop deck with fire pits.
In addition to the lifestyle-centered amenities, the apartments in Gilbert provide more elbow room, having an average size of over 1,000 square feet, about 250 square feet larger than those in the non-luxury category, Gatea said.
Luxury apartments in Chandler and Scottsdale, averaged 970 and 983 square feet, respectively – about 200 square feet bigger than their non-luxury counterparts, she added.
What’s driving developers to build these apartments with resort-style amenities is that people are remaining renters longer than before so their expectations of what their homes must offer have changed, the study said.
“The current amenities strategies are totally changing the apartment feel,” said Doug Ressler, business intelligence manager for Yardi Matrix. “Renters want the feel of living in a house and not just another apartment, with more room to live, work and play. Renters want to feel like you’re more in a home.”
The trend of renters increasingly looking to places offering high-end living was amplified by the pandemic.
In an effort to respond to the growing need for more housing and inclusive environments, most cities have supported the construction of new apartments, the study added.
In general, apartment construction in the country is on an upward trend, with 2021 being the peak year of new apartment supply – 417,000 new units entered the market last year, up 12% year-over-year, according to Gatea.
And 46% of the luxury apartments in the country’s top 100 biggest cities were built during the past decade, she said.
An expert sees the apartment building trend in the near future focusing on indoor air quality and broadband/5G networks as a selling feature.
Buildings with larger units that provide more space for spreading out, plus a home office, and don’t make us feel so confined if we have to enter lockdown periods will be in higher demand for a time,” said Robert Aydukovic, who teaches at Michigan State University.
“Buildings in close proximity to outdoor space for distancing and recreation will outperform.
“Also, developers should pay attention to the preferences of Gen Z as the Millennials are aging out of the apartment lifestyle and looking for their first or second homes,” Aydukovic said. “Gen Z is trending to be highly mobile, very tech savvy and values experiences over material items.”