Written by Motion Property’s Property Management Manager, Ernie Caputa.
With vacancy rates on the rise, Melbourne property developers and builders must consider their target rental market before commencing their project. Urban renters — many of them young Gen Y-ers or “Millennials” — are looking at renting an apartment not as a temporary phase before buying a home, but as a long-term lifestyle choice that supports a full, urban experience. Here are several building trends that reveal how developers are responding to these new priorities.
According to a recent tenant survey undertaken by Melbourne’s Motion Property, location is the most important determining factor for renters in urban areas.
Motion Property tenant Daniel Blakely chose his high-rise apartment building in Spencer Street, Melbourne because it’s centrally located, with “access to just about everything.” At his doorstep are trains and trams, restaurants, shops and cinemas.
It’s important for lifestyle,” said Blakely, who works in the Docklands business precinct, “I deliberately chose to live near work because lifestyle was more important than having to commute.”
Henry Spencer chose differently when he and his partner moved their young family from their house in Heatherton to a 3 bedroom apartment on St Kilda Road in order to be closer to his partner’s work in neighbouring South Yarra. Their newer apartment is just one block from Fawkner Park, highly acclaimed public schools and transport.
In both renters’ cases, access to amenities and transit were important. Ernie Caputa, Director of Property Management at Motion Property, says that this is a continuing rather than a new trend: “What [builders] are doing is filling in the empty spaces or the under-utilized land within transit-oriented neighbourhoods that already have transit and already have a neighborhood character.”
Did you know that the residential sector in the City of Melbourne accounts for 22 per cent of the city’s water consumption, 9 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and more than 14,000 tonnes of waste sent to landfill each year?1 As a result, the City of Melbourne has started initiatives to seek improvements in apartment buildings in order to become more sustainable and support Eco-Living.
As a result, apartment builders and developers across Melbourne are starting to insist upon green design. Encouraging them are environmental design standards and rankings such as the National Australian Built Environment Rating Schemes (NABERs) and Green Star Ratings2.
Residents are starting to realise the impact of living in an environmentally friendly property. 6 Star homes are projected to use 24 per cent less energy through heating and cooling, which means that they can save an average of $100 off their energy bills each year3.
Smaller but smarter units & large common areas
Downsized units offer renters a more affordable, energy-saving housing alternative in dense neighbourhoods, with shared multi-use spaces providing additional amenities.
An important factor for apartment residents is the “useability” of the internal area. These days many new apartments feature clever designs which maximise the use of space, meaning very little if any “dead” space taken up by strange corners or long corridors
“The apartments provide an efficient living space for tenants who are ‘on the go’ and don’t want the space (or expense) of a more traditional apartment,” said Caputa, who has been noticing the trend take place across many of Melbourne’s new developments
Developers are also making smaller units attractive to renters by incorporating flexible space using sliding partition walls that residents can customize to their specific living requirements.
Jar Developments, the group behind Savvy Apartments, West Footscray seized on this trend and have been offering buyers the option to add sliding partition walls into a large one bedroom unit to create a study or smaller second bedroom. Other developers are encouraging the use of the building’s common areas to help create moments of community interaction within the building. A good example is a project currently under construction in Southbank – Habitat.
Designed to entice students and young adults, the smaller but more affordable units are also flexible and liveable. Though there are no balconies (which helps reduce the overall cost of each apartment), each level will feature a three-storey vertical garden with built-in furniture and spectacular views.
At the rooftop, a recreation area will feature a garden, function rooms, a bar and an indoor cinema.
“This way, even if you’re a single tenant living on the 3rd floor, you still have the ability to go up and experience the view and get to know other residents in the building.” Says Ernie Caputa
Fitness rooms, bike storage, garden space, pet areas and even car share parking are just a few examples of lifestyle design features that developers are implementing to meet tenant demands.
In addition to the three-storey vertical gardens and the open rooftop, Habitat will provide generous areas for bicycle storage as well as a bike workshop on the ground floor. Habitat will also offer two cars for sharing by residents, 24/7.