2016 is shaping up to be the year of mixed-use developments.  This couldn’t ring more true for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, mixed-use is the new trend everyone wants to be a part of.  With their blend of retail, office, and living space, it makes this concept very attractive to today’s renter.  The multifunctional spaces in a relatively small footprint just make good business sense, and this is why we are seeing so many projects underway in prime locations such as Plano, Frisco, Coppell, and Richardson.

The great thing is this even translates well for redevelopment within the urban core.  Mixed-use development allows for individualized planning within each project.  We don’t want another cookie cutter apartment building, rather a community within a city that meets the needs of its residents.  So what are the key factors of a successful mixed-use development?

Instead of focusing on the urban core vs urban-suburbia, residents simply want walkability. The resident of a multi-use property is looking for a live-work-dine location.  Within their community, residents are seeking dry cleaners, restaurants, banks, grocery stores, and retail. They want to save their car for weekends out of town.  To accomplish this we need pedestrian safe experience.  When they do decide to get out “town” they need to be close to major highways and public transportation. Developing a mixed-use project that is close to employment or offers convenient methods of transportation is often a major selling factor.

To be mixed-use, you must be (strategically) mixed. Establishing at least one or two anchor components that can support the entire project is important. However, you are going to need to mix the space, get some diversity in there, and potentially challenge the zoning laws. Think about it, up until the 20th century, our entire country was mixed-use.  It wasn’t until zoning laws were introduced in the early 1900’s that we relegated certain industries to certain areas and our living became so compartmentalized. These zoning laws had great intentions and still have their place, but sometimes rules are there to be bent.

Instead of building the development so the people come to you, a smart developer will build where the people and employment growth already exist. The saying “if you build it, they will come” isn’t always true in real estate. In this case, targeting locations that are experiencing significant employment growth, such as Plano and Frisco, is going to be more successful than targeting the urban core where mixed-use developments are already underway and employment growth is not as substantial.

Architectural Significance
No body wants to see another strip mall. Suburbia is plagued with them. If their job is going to be in suburbia, and it makes sense for them to live, work, play in the suburbs, then they want to make coming home a pleasure. Look for architecture that is going to be of significance to the area while not being a departure from current designs in the area. Thoughtful details, high-end finishes, and amenities. The people that want to be part of a mixed-use project want to be part of a lifestyle. They want to be part of a community and the architecture should be cohesive and significant.

Mixed-use projects are really how we settled land in the beginning with multiple uses in one smaller footprint. It’s always interesting to watch us return to our hypothetical roots and do things “the old way”. Maybe our ancestors had it right after all.


Designing LEED apartments is not only important for our environment but it also has a substantial impact on the future and how residents go about their day-to-day lives. LEED designated apartment communities are becoming the new norm for new developments. However, leasing professionals are still struggling to educate residents on the benefits that speak to the needs or wants of the millennial age group. Because this age group is the biggest demographic in multifamily history, we have to rethink the way we market and design communities with millennials in mind.

Millennials want to do good in the community. They grew up during the push to start recycling and they watched the backlash of climate change happen before their eyes. They are also noticing influencers being more health conscious, and they are taking note and following others’ leads. However, it isn’t very often that a millennial resident chooses community A over community B because community A is a LEED certified community. They first consider price, quality, and location before they even look at the benefits of living at a LEED community. So how can we make living at a sustainable community more appealing to Millennials?

Customers don’t always understand what it means to live at a LEED community, so we have to get creative and rethink our vocabulary so that we’re speaking a universal language. Millennials are also price conscious so instead of pointing out LEED features, point out features that are going to save them money. This is also a great way to overcome price objections.

Then there is the cool factor. Millennials are all for cutting edge trends, what influencers are doing, and how they are making the world a better place. While it is important to show your prospects how LEED features are working, you must add an extra emphasis on what the feature is doing for planet earth. You want your prospects and residents to know that you are driving change to help the world, and by living at your community they are too. Communities can also set goals to promote the use of the features. This will give millennials a sense of pride that is worth sharing with their peers.

LEED apartments are important for the apartment lifestyle and for the future of the environment. It is up to us to make LEED successful and useful for residents.

This week we are getting our architecture and design inspiration from incredible structures in the big beautiful city of Dallas, Texas. According to Dallas Architecture Blog, Dallas will not only emerge as one of the five largest cities in the next 15 years, but as a city inhabited by the most interesting, entrepreneurial, and culturally savvy residents.

The Perot Museum
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a unique structure that sits dramatically above the city streets with its puckered and concrete panels.  The “concrete cube” was designed by Thom Mayne and the Culver City firm Morphosis and came to life in 2012. The $185-million project is nestled between the downtown and uptown neighborhoods of Dallas.

The Old Red Museum
The Old Red Museum not only brings character to the prominent streets of downtown Dallas, but also history. The iconic building was built in 1892 as the Dallas County Courthouse and is made of red sandstone and rusticated marble accents. In 1966, the courthouse was moved to a newer nearby building, and in 1976, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The AT&T Performing Arts Center
This modern and sleek $354-million multi-venue center was once known as the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts. The building opened in 2009 and sits alongside the highrises of downtown Dallas.

AT&T Stadium
Known as the Cowboys Stadium to Dallas residents, the AT&T Stadium was a $1.15 billion project, making it one of the most expensive sports venues ever built. The stadium houses the fourth largest high definition video screen, which hangs from 20-yard line to 20-yard line, and a retractable roof that exposes both end zones to the big Texas sky. The stadium has a 85,000-seat capacity and is now valued at $2.3 billion, making it one of the most valuable sports clubs in the world.


It’s a technology world, and we’re living in it (literally) thanks to exciting advances in single-family smart home technology. The multifamily sector has been slow to embrace smart home features, but progress is being made.  We’re learning that these advances bring time and money savings for both residents and management companies, so it’s time to start integrating these features into new developments and even dated stabilized properties!

Energy-saving thermostats were one of the first smart home features to enter the multifamily sector. Residents find them so valuable that they themselves have even begun purchasing and adding Nest thermostats to their apartment homes. Why do they love them? Smart thermostats learn your schedule and personal preferences to allow the thermostat to adjust while you go about your day.  No manual adjustments needed.

Features that can be managed and controlled from a mobile device, tablet, or other electronic devices are also quickly gaining popularity. Controlled lighting and keyless front door locks are unique selling features as it adds additional convenience of apartment living and it fits into residents’ technology driven lifestyles.

Secured keyless door locks have been wildly popular in the student housing sector. Parents are finding peace of mind with its safety benefits.  The fact that students no longer have to keep up with their keys creates significantly less lock outs – something maintenance teams can appreciate! Keyless door locks also cut down on pulling and carrying keys for maintenance requests and reduces costs associated with lock changes.

Smart irrigation controllers are also helping make the maintenance team’s job easier by allowing remote access via smartphones to irrigation controllers. With this technology, maintenance can control sprinkler systems using weather data saving up to 15% on water usage!

Additionally, more cost effective smart home features include Smart TVs, USB electrical outlets, built in surround sound, advanced green features, as well as high speed internet. This means if you are currently designing a project or going through apartment rehabs, be sure you are including at least these features to give your community a competitive edge that will appeal to the Millennial demographic.

This is just the beginning of smart home technology for multifamily. Smart home features and products will continue to advance, and it is our duty to be ready and prepared for the change. What multifamily smart home features are you most excited about?


Designing for Gen Z

August 6, 2015 Trends

It is quickly becoming time to shift some of our focus away from Millennial trends and begin to focus on trends surrounding a newer, younger cohort. Gen Z is comprised of nearly 2 billion people globally and are classified as those who were born between 1994 and 2010. The eldest of the group will be starting college and moving out on their own within the next year. And while they may share some similarities with the generation before them, their aspirations are different.

Gen Z is the most diverse, connected, and sophistic generation to date. They are early adopters and are busy creating a better future. Millennials may have grown up with computers in their homes, but Gen Z is the first generation born into a digital world where information has always been at their fingertips. This generation is more practical, tech savvy, and entrepreneurial than the generations before them, and they will have different apartment home needs than prior generations.

Gen Z is most concerned about global warming and climate change, and they want to have a positive impact on the world. Living at a community with LEED features and benefits help them feel as if they are doing their part in reducing their carbon footprint. It will be important to have LEED features in not only their apartment home, but also throughout the community. It will be just as important to constantly educate them on how the features are working.

Creators, makers, or Gen Z-ers, this group wants to make something of their own, They are doers and they are dedicated. Growing up in a digital world that allows individuals to have hobbies and side gigs with the help of sites such as Etsy, YouTube, WordPress, rewardStyle, etc. This could also easily become their full time job. Gen Z will enjoy amenities such as a “create space” or “makers room” that will cater to their creative and entrepreneurial talents outside of their apartment home.

Gen Z already has a reputation for having a short attention span because they process information at faster speeds and are always multitasking. They will need apartment features that fit their constantly connected lifestyles such as high speed wireless internet, USB outlets, Smart TV, built-in speakers, wireless keychain, lights controlled by your cell phone, etc.

This tech dependent group will have multiple gadgets and will spend a significant time using them. The percentage of remote workers will also increase for this generation. A built-in, designated space such as a small office, den, or a built-in desk will be useful for Gen-Zers to use and to store their gadgets.

Gen Z enjoys being unique, and they want stand apart from the crowd. Communities designed to fit their advanced lifestyles while adding a little extra flare will become increasingly popular in the near future.


apartment supply

Studio and one bedroom apartment units have been a popular trend in the current supply cycle. New units are hitting the market faster than ever, and new developments are being designed with millennials in mind by adding a large share of small units. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of one bedrooms has increased by 7 million in the past 20 years, representing more than 35% of renters today.

264,000 multifamily family units were completed in 2014, and 36% of those units were less than 1,000 square feet.

Given that millennials want to live in vibrant neighborhoods with dining, shopping, and activities all nearby, the recent flux of one bedrooms in these areas is understandable. Gen Y renters are also willing to trade space for a convenient and attractive location. However, the question remains: Will there still be a need for these small units in years to come?

It’s simple: the amount of future supply is the ultimate factor as to whether small units continue to perform well. The markets keep getting tighter, but as new construction increases, so does absorption. However, if developers remain overly optimistic, construction can get out of hand quickly prompting a jump in vacancies and decelerated rent. Any advantage small units have over larger units would then disappear.

What is your outlook on the current flux of one bedroom units? Do you foresee the number of one bedroom vacancies to rise significantly over time? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Baby Boomers and millennials are filling vacancies faster than ever. And surprisingly, they aren’t always going choosing different homes. Typically when a community is designed to appeal to a specific generation, other generations are attracted to it as well.  The community develops into a multi-generational community once in the lease-up phase. Contrary to popular belief, millennials enjoy the company of their parents and their friends’ parents.  And, Baby Boomers want the same features in an apartment as millennials.

SPACE.  This may come as a surprise, but millennials don’t want their bed in their living room and visible from their kitchen, unless they are living in a city like New York. They want enough space to mount their big screen TV and to entertain their friends and family. Baby Boomers are selling their homes and downsizing. They are looking for plenty of space to fit their oversized sectional and dining room table and all of the items they have acquired over the years. They will likely ask for your largest apartment, or penthouse if available, as well as a storage closet.

TECHNOLOGY.  Developers are designing amenities to appeal to students and young professionals by incorporating high technology and fast internet access. Millennials’ tech needs revolve around social media, streaming television shows, videos, and music. Baby Boomers are looking for a place to surf the web, plan their next trip, and FaceTime their family. A common area with that accommodates their web needs is an amenity that both can enjoy.

LOW MAINTENANCE. HIGH DESIGN.  Quality materials and finishes are an important interior feature to both parties.  Baby Boomers want custom home finishes in their apartment, and Millennials want an apartment that has modern and updated finishes on a budget. But they also want easy and low maintenance. Materials like quartz countertops that are clean looking and easy to maintain are perfect for this group.

COMMUNITY.  While privacy may be important when searching for an apartment, community is becoming an increasingly popular feature in the apartment search for Millennials and Baby Boomers. An inviting, laid back leasing office is an excellent first impression for Millennials, but they are also looking for a place to relax while they aren’t at work. Baby Boomers are not too far behind them. They want to feel like like they are on vacation but still want a great common space that they can reserve when they have family and friends over for dinner or the holidays.

Baby Boomers and Millennials have a lot more in common than we all assume, which makes it easier for developers to develop a community that is appealing to both parties. Rather than doing what has always been done for each group, focus on designing communities that meet the convenience and technology expectations for future renters.


New student housing developments are taking the lead in design, amenities, and technology trends. However, designing and developing a student housing community for the future can be a challenge as trends and new technologies are constantly improving and evolving.  But the new developments that are adapting to these trends are leasing faster than ever.

Properties that are delivering this fall were 53% pre-leased for the fall semester as of February, according to Axiometrics. That is considerably higher than the national average of 45%.

The key to developing a community that is alluring to the student demographic is to incorporate features and amenities that are modern, communistic and beneficial – something that can save them money while being technologically advanced. Common areas with extremely fast WiFi, equipped with lounge furniture and tabletops or desk space, will be popularly used for private or group study sessions. (This will also please the parents.) But this space must be accessible 24-hours and include complimentary coffee for students to feel as if they are reaping their full benefits of being a resident.

Inviting, Vibrant and fun community amenities that fulfill students’ rather active lifestyles catches the eye of most students during the initial touring phase. Design game rooms to include pool tables, arcade games, big screen TVs with gaming systems and surround sound to give the community a competitive edge and a cool factor that your prospect can’t find across the street. If your community has longer summers, a resort-style pool is critical, and has been for years. But to get incoming students’ attention, add a private beach, a lazy river, and a swim up (non-alcoholic) bar top will set the stage for a relaxed and worry-free environment. These community amenities must also accommodate community events hosted by management.

Fitness facilities are improving with new high-tech fitness equipment and space that allows residents to take part in group workouts or classes without leaving their community. Residents can feel as if they have their own (digital) personal trainer with new technology built onto cardio equipment, or residents can utilize the technology to watch their favorite show or view their workout progress. Go beyond the ordinary cardio and weight training floor and add a yoga studio. This will give management the resources to host regular yoga classes as an added benefit for residents, and give residents perks that they can only find in a high-paying monthly gym membership. Developers are also creating space to include a sauna and a free 24-hour tanning bed for residents.

High end and high tech amenities are quickly becoming the new normal for new student housing developments. Now, if only we could all go back and live our glory days in today’s student housing communities. Fortunately, Multifamily eventually follows student housing’s lead. We, the developers, just have to keep up.

plano texas

With 34,000 units under construction in D-FW in 2015 alone, it is no secret that Dallas is still booming. After all, North Texas is growing by more than 100,000 people a year, and the demand for rental units is high. Given the extra focus on new developments in the urban core, and appealing to millennial trends, we are learning that Gen-Y is flocking to the suburbs over the big city.

Young Families. Gen-Y are starting families, or are young families, and they simply cannot find sufficient square footage in the urban core that they can find in the suburbs.  And although apartment construction in Downtown Dallas is booming, units being constructed are too small for a growing family.

Education. Gen-Y understands the importance of a good education better than anyone, and they want the same for their children. While private schools may not fit into their budget, they are finding superb public schools in the suburbs that are well funded through property taxes.

Debt to income. Student loan debt is haunting Gen-Y, and they may not have the salary (yet) to afford downtown rent. Rents in North Texas are at an all time high with an average of $919 per month in the D-FW area and $1700-1800 in the urban markets. Gen-Y would prefer to spend their extra income on gadgets, experiences and travel.

Proximity. Location to work and public transportation are a priority to Gen-Y. Large companies such as Toyota, JC Penny, Target and Raytheon are based outside of the urban core and are, instead, basing in Plano, Irving and McKinney.  Having a short commute, the ability to ride to work, or being able to easily jump on the DART is an important factor in their active, busy and social lifestyles.

Gen-Y wants it all. Luxury items and an easy social life. They know that in order to live in walking distance to great dining, bars and venues while on a budget, they have to take to the suburbs. And suburbs such as Plano, Frisco, Addison, and Las Colinas are already well equipped to accommodate this lifestyle.

As hubs of knowledge, it makes sense that universities are where so many technologies are discovered, tested, and improved upon. Still, it has only been over the past few years that some student residence halls have grown as or more attractive than other multifamily housing options for students at some schools. The newfound appeal of some of these residence halls has as much to do with their embrace of technological progress as with anything else, as demonstrated by these tech trends:

Building-Wide WiFi
For nearly a decade, building-wide and campuswide WiFi connections have been common on college campuses. By and large, most non-student specific apartments left the task of securing an internet connection up to their tenants during the same period. This is changing, and landlords that offer free, building-wide WiFi connections to tenants and their guests are finding that offering high-quality, wireless broadband internet is a service tenants truly appreciate.

Cashless Transactions
If you have children that have lived in the dorms during the last five or six years, chances are they did not have to collect quarters in a shoebox or pencil container in order to always have the right cash on hand when they run out of clean underwear. Laundry machines that use mobile technology and remote monitoring are now almost ubiquitous in campus dormitories and have started taking over apartment laundry facilities as well. Mobile technology is also being used for cashless vending machine transactions.

Smart Technology
From sensors and energy management systems to access control, smart technology is being integrated into many systems found in student living environments. Not only do these technologies appeal to residents. They also appeal to property managers and owners who can cut costs and beef up security by incorporating them into their multifamily properties.

There you have it. A brief look at ways in which the student housing sector is leading the general multifamily housing industry where new technologies are concerned. Shreve Land Constructors accepts bids for projects in student housing and throughout the multifamily housing industry, and works to incorporate into our projects whatever technologies our clients wish to see!

Of the tech trends discussed in this article, which would you most like to have in your apartment and why? Share by leaving a comment below!

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