In November 2019, we hosted 120 or so key stakeholders in the housing industry for a deep dive event focused on driving attainability for middle income households – those who make roughly $50K-$125K per year.

In table-based think tanks of six to eight people, we addressed 15 questions related to PLACE, PRODUCT and PRODUCTION (or process) – the three big buckets that need to be tackled to make homes more attainable without sacrificing the quality of our homes and our lives.

Here’s a question from the PLACE segment of our agenda.

With the need for more efficient home design and greater density, what are the amenities we need to build into communities so that people can gain greater quality of life out of public spaces?

We asked 15 thought leaders, including regional and national builders; experts in innovation, architecture, marketing, and investment; manufacturers and a market analyst.

Here’s what they had to say.

1: First, define amenities.
Is location enough of an amenity? Just being close to transport and close to the areas you need, that may be enough of a value for some people. Make WiFi the fourth utility and include that as part of a project. Other things: HOA costs, daycare, community gardens, dog-friendly spaces, these are all things that help take away costs for families if they’re included with their home or their community. Energy efficiency can also be considered an amenity and really helps with utility costs.

2: Understand the value of public spaces.

Higher density means smaller private spaces. So, what are you going to need outside of that space that makes up for it? Gathering and community spaces. The true value in amenities is creating a destination where people want to live. One example is Babcock Ranch. Buyers were asked in a survey why, specifically, they decided to move to that community. Most of those respondents mentioned the amenities like neighborhood Wi-Fi and the great school that was within the boundaries of the community. It’s important to be able to drive the value of those amenities. They are what create a place where people want to live.

3: Leverage existing amenities for infill products.
Infill projects are adjacent to existing amenities. As builders and developers, we can’t control those, but we can interact with them and have them be part of our marketing materials and. Create partnerships with restaurants and cultural amenities like music venues to provide added value and enhance the experience of your dwellers.