Raising the Roof

ESTATENVY explains the new era of rooftop amenities and what it means for the future of luxury apartment development.

The rooftop game has officially been taken to the next level.

Apartment complexes in across the nation are implementing amenities that real estate developers even 10 years ago would have never dreamed of. The roof has become a place of gathering for residents, which means luxury amenities are more important in selling apartment units than ever before.

“The growth in outdoor amenities has been tremendous. What we’re creating in apartment complexes is what we call a ‘vertical community’ - where residents can get everything they want in one place,” said Devon Patterson of SCB in Chicago. “With upgraded pools and outdoor movie theatres, rooftop spaces have begun to feel like a resort.”

Talk about raising the roof.

Rooftop amenities began with the classics – take the pool, for instance. Pools are, of course, the staple of the outdoor space. In recent years, they have increased not just in size, but also in number of features with the addition of aspects like cabanas and hot tubs.

“Pools have always been a great amenity. Even in the Chicago climate, they are a big attraction point. Now, pools are increasing in size and the reason for the use has transitioned,” Patterson said. “These days, it is not as much about being in the pool as it is hanging around the pool with family and friends.”

In addition to classic amenities, newer ones have emerged and become major attraction points for renters and transformed the rooftop deck into a full gathering space. The addition of backyard-like amenities makes the rooftop decks in the busiest of cities feel like home.

“People want to have their friends over to entertain. Developers are adding things like grills and seating space in order to do so. For colder summer nights in markets like Chicago, the outdoor fireplace has become a huge attraction point as well,” Patterson said. “Depending on what area of the country you are in, things like herb gardens and outdoor movie theatres are being added.”

Rooftop decks are no longer just socializing spots for residents with two legs, but ones with four legs too. Urban areas tend to attract residents with dogs, despite the fact that there is not an abundance of greenery for them to run and play on. In order to attract renters, developers are adding this greenery themselves.

“Dog runs have become extremely common. As more buildings are becoming accepting of residents with pets, having a place for them to play is more of a necessity,” Patterson said. “Having a dog run adjacent to a rooftop deck allows for the dogs to socialize outside while the owners socialize indoors while they keep an eye on their pet.”

Additions like these may seem slightly excessive to the average consumer, but they are what allows luxury developers to create spaces that stand out in competitive markets.

“I think in a competitive market Chicago, developers even use these amenities to lure people from other buildings and to stand out among the competition,” Patterson said. “It is important to create a rich package of outdoor amenities and that help your residents feel at home.”