Renovated Schools Helping Multifamily Developers Meet Demand

historic schools converted to apartments

Instead of tearing down historic schools, some developers are turning them into multifamily housing.

As we’ve discussed recently, demand for apartments is only expected to grow in coming years, and the multifamily housing industry will need to step up to meet that demand. One way developers are answering the call is through the redevelopment of existing real estate- most notably, old school buildings.

Filling a void

According to Multifamily Executive, over 18,000 public schools were closed between 2009 and 2010, posing a challenge to communities across the U.S. These old school buildings are not only historic but also hold a soft spot in the hearts of residents, who place a high sentimental value on the places where they-and their parents, children, or even grandparents- grew up. That community pressure, combined with historic building ordinances and the cost of converting the buildings, makes repurposing an attractive option.

Local governments can sell the historic school buildings to developers who have the capital to transform them into multifamily housing. It’s in the developer’s best interests to preserve the character and history of the building in order to increase cache with potential renters, and the community benefits from affordable housing in high-density areas that need it.

Targeting renters

One example of a renovated school turned apartment development is the Riverview at Clendenin School in West Virginia. The 18-unit community is located in an elegant 1914 brick former school building with charming architectural details and plenty of large windows that create an atmosphere filled with natural light. Housing a health clinic in addition to apartments, this multifamily redevelopment is also a great example of the need for accessible senior housing.

Renovated schools could also be a prime target for the microapartment industry targeting young professionals who want to live in sought after urban neighborhoods without breaking the bank.

To learn more about apartment renovations and how to reposition your multifamily property, contact Professional Multifamily Redevelopment today.


Photo by Mark Turnauckas via Flickr CC 2.0

Multifamily Renovation Trend: Universal Design for Aging Renters

universal design bathroom

Zero threshold shower design

By the year 2030, there will be 72.1 million older people in the U.S., estimated to comprise 19% of the population. This demographic shift is sure to affect the multifamily housing industry, and smart developers are already meeting the demand using principles of universal design.

What is universal design?

Simply put, universal design aims to build spaces that are accessible to as many people as possible. Instead of building a limited number  of handicap accessible apartments with add-ons like grab bars and special door knobs, what if all apartments had accessibility features integrated into the design in such a way that you wouldn’t even notice at first glance? Not only is this approach more attractive, but it also provides a more user-friendly end product by integrating accessibility right from the start.

Universal design features for apartments

Many of the changes that make an apartment accessible can easily be done when included right from the start, with little to no extra cost or effort. For instance, simply making doorways wider will allow for easier access to a person in a wheelchair. Other features that are especially relevant to aging apartment residents with arthritis and mobility issues include:

  • Lever door handles which require less wrist action to open 
  • Rocker light switches
  • Touch-open latches on cabinets
  • Touch technology faucets that start and stop with a bump
  • Walk-in showers with no threshold
  • Drawer-style appliances
  • Adjustable height counters

If you are repositioning a multifamily property and want to make sure you are not excluding the older demographic, consider adding universal design features during the apartment remodeling process. Contact PMR today to learn more about our apartment renovation and construction management services to help you keep your multifamily investment going strong.

Photo via Houzz

Leverage Apartment Amenities to Give Residents a Summer Staycation

bocce ball summer apartment activityUpdated amenities are worthless if no one knows about them, so it’s important to make the most of your apartment remodeling project by marketing it to existing and potential residents alike. As Multifamily Insiders points out in a recent post, summer is the perfect opportunity to leverage your apartment amenities by encouraging residents to take a “staycation.”

In order to maximize the visibility and popularity of the remodeled amenities at your apartment community, try implementing some of these summer staycation ideas for your residents.

3 Ways to Encourage Residents to Use Apartment Amenities

Publicize your fitness center or gym

  • Keep the temperature nice and cool to encourage residents to use it on hot summer days.
  • Offer hand towels to residents.
  • Set up a spa water station of beverage dispensers filled with ice water and flavored with lemon, mint, or cucumber slices.
  • Bring in a fitness instructor to teach a class or a nutritionist to offer free consultations with residents.

Leverage outdoor apartment amenities

  • Now is the time to really push your outdoor sporting amenities! Bring balls and other necessary equipment and have a party at the volleyball, basketball, tennis or bocce court. Provide bottled water and play music. 
  • Bring in a golf instructor for free putting classes at your putting green.
  • Publicize your jogging trail by hosting a guided nature tour educating residents about the local trees, birds, and other natural features.
  • Show off your pet-friendly features by hosting a “Dog Days of Summer” party or “Yappy Hour” at your dog park. Provide snacks for people and pups alike and invite local pet-centered businesses to do a raffle or giveaway.

Make the most of your renovated clubhouse

  • Keep the thermostat set low to entice residents.
  • Make sure your clubhouse has lots of comfortable seating and a layout that encourages residents to gather and socialize.
  • Set up a pool station with ice-cold beverages and sunscreen for those who are heading out to swim.
  • Everyone hates firing up the oven to cook during the summer and subsequently heating up their apartments, so consider catering a weekly or monthly dinner for your residents.
  • If you have a media room or even just a projector in the main clubhouse, host a movie night complete with popcorn and candy.

Multifamily remodeling projects are a great way to increase the value of your apartment community and raise resident retention, but it only works if people know about the upgrades! If you are thinking of renovating apartment amenities, be sure to leverage those features for maximum resident awareness.

For assistance from project scope and planning to actual renovation, Professional Multifamily Redevelopment can help. With over 27 years in the apartment renovation and construction management industry, we can help you renovate apartment amenities that will add value to your multifamily property. Contact us today to discuss your multifamily remodeling project.


Photo by jencu via Flickr CC 2.o

Micro-Apartments, Young Renters, and the Multifamily Housing Industry

Millennial generation renters drive apartment demandAs we discussed in a recent post, the multifamily housing industry is watching young renters, and the preferences of the Millennial generation are already starting to affect apartment renovations and amenities. has released a list of the top 10 cities for recent grads, with Phoenix at number one. The other cities include:

  • Orlando, FL
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Columbus, OH
  • Austin, TX
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Fort Worth, TX
  • Dallas, TX
  • Minneapolis, MN

Competition for jobs is high and apartment rents are, too, which means more recent grads may be taking advantage of the multifamily housing trend toward micro apartments. These tiny units can be as small as 220 square feet, 40% smaller than the average studio apartment, yet they speak to two important market factors.

Millennials want to live in urban, walkable areas and are willing to go small in order to live in their ideal neighborhoods. But they are also the generation of the recession, and may favor smaller, more affordable units due to the economic uncertainty which has characterized much of their adult lives.

Multifamily investors are beginning to meet this demand by providing micro apartments, as well as through apartment renovations of existing properties. Smart multifamily renovations are breathing new life into old properties and even transforming commercial spaces like old mills and warehouses.

Are you interested in an apartment repositioning or remodeling project to capitalize on the micro apartment trend? If so, contact PMR today. Our experience in the multifamily remodeling industry and project management make us uniquely qualified to bring your Millenial-targeted multifamily project to fruition.

Photo by iprostocks via 

Value-Add Apartment Repositioning Projects Are On the Rise

rising demand for value-add real estateChanges in multifamily real estate: Value-add eclipses distressed properties

If you are considering an apartment repositioning project, you’re in good company. With distressed and foreclosed multifamily properties diminishing, more and more investors are looking for value-add multifamily real estate.

Value-add real estate can be a great opportunity for multifamily development, offering higher returns on your investment than most other properties. Of course, the extent to which your investment will pay off is directly related to accurate assessment of the property.

Value-add multifamily real estate renovations

Before you make an investment in a value-add property, it’s important to know the state it is in currently and what it will take to get the job done right. Working with an experienced multifamily construction project manager will ensure that you are investing wisely in your property and end up with a successful apartment renovation project.

Your construction manager should help you identify opportunities for added value, accurately estimate costs and timelines, and ultimately end up with a stabilized apartment community. To explore the apartment renovation process from start to finish, check out our previous blog posts.

If you are looking for ways to increase profitability on your multifamily property or are searching for value-add apartment properties to invest in, Professional Multifamily Redevelopment can help. With over 27 years in the apartment renovation and construction management industry, we can help you evaluate and reposition value-add communities for maximum return on investment. Contact us today to discuss your project.

photo by David Castillo Dominici via

“Trillion Dollar Apartment Industry” Calls for Apartment Repositioning and Construction

apartment renovation plansA representative of the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) and National Apartment Association (NAA) testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee earlier this week on the value of the multifamily housing industry. According to the NMHC/NAA report entitled “The Trillion Dollar Apartment Industry,” multifamily housing is a $1.1 trillion industry that fuels $14.8 billion in apartment construction and development, 324,000 apartment construction jobs, and $12.7 billion in personal earnings.

Ongoing multifamily housing growth predicted

In addition to its current impact, Property Management Insider reports that the multifamily construction industry is poised to grow even more thanks to continually increasing demand for apartment housing. With an estimated 7 million new renter households forming in the next decade, the apartment industry is having trouble keeping up.

Apartment repositioning: Now is the time

As you can see, the multifamily real estate market is a great place to invest right now. While new construction will play a major role in fulfilling demand, apartment renovations and commercial real estate repositioning are sectors to watch. In order to stay competitive with new construction, older apartment communities will need to renovate amenities and units.

Urban reuse has been going strong for quite a while now, and will continue to do so as savvy developers see the potential to transform old schools and industrial real estate into multifamily housing. Working with an experienced multifamily renovation project manager will ensure that your apartment redevelopment stays profitable, on time, and in budget.

Do you want to be part of the solution for the multifamily housing shortage? If you are considering redeveloping a property for multifamily use or renovating your apartment community to stay competitive, contact us today. Professional Multifamily Redevelopment has the experience to ensure you get the most out of every renovation dollar, as well as the vision to make your community the best it can be. Take a look at our project management and apartment renovation services and give us a call at 678-446-7570.

Photo courtesy khunaspix via

Leverage Amenities to Appeal to Younger Renters

tech-savvy apartment amenitiesIf you’re in the multifamily industry, you need to be paying attention to Gen Y, which makes up a large portion of the renting population. Despite a recovering housing market, many of these young people prefer to rent, and in a recent survey, 54% of respondents said that “renting has become more appealing.” Of the same sample group, 61% agreed that “renters can be just as successful as owners at achieving the American Dream.”

Obviously targeting Gen Y renters in your apartment redevelopment project is important, but how exactly can you do that? Take a look at some of the ways to use apartment amenities to appeal to a younger population of potential residents.

Embrace Technology in Apartment Renovations

Let’s be honest, most of us are permanently attached to our smartphones or iPads, and Gen Y is leading the way. By incorporating technology into your apartment redevelopment, you’ll automatically be catching the attention of the iPhone crowd. Consider including free wifi with apartment leases, or creating a wifi hotspot in your clubhouse with a coworking space for the work-from-home crowd. In individual units, consider modern necessities like flatscreens and how they would fit into the space. Features that facilitate wall-mounting flatscreens and hiding wires will be sought after by younger renters.

Go Green (and Make Sure They Know!)

Younger renters value sustainable design, but most are not willing to pay more for it. Incorporating green living features like on-site recycling, energy-efficient fixtures and appliances, low-flow plumbing, and other eco-friendly amenities will help capture their attention. They also love unique features, so think outside the box. Consider creating an organic garden space where your residents can grow herbs and veggies, or even a green roof, if your site allows.

Promote Fitness Amenities

In order to set your community apart, your fitness center will need to go above and beyond the typical mirrored room with a few machines and some free weights. Incorporating state of the art gym equipment is one way to go, but consider the possibilities of an indoor track or basketball court, a cardio theater, or a yoga studio.

fitness amenities yoga class

With any apartment amenity renovation, it’s important that you leverage the amenity in your marketing and sales. What’s the point of completing an expensive multifamily renovation if you don’t use it to attract new residents or communicate value to the residents you already have?

If you are looking for ways to increase profitability on your multifamily property or are planning an apartment repositioning project, contact Professional Multifamily Redevelopment today. We specialize in project management for apartment redevelopment and renovations.

Apartment Renovations Part 3: Scope and Design

Once we’ve developed a vision for your multifamily community and completed a multifamily redevelopment assessment, we break down the redevelopment project into four basic categories:

  • Unit Interiors

  • Apartment Building Exteriors

  • Site

  • Amenities & Marketing

Prioritizing Apartment Renovations

It’s best to itemize each aspect of your apartment redevelopment under the above categories and prioritize each project.  For example, any Life Safety issues need to be addressed early.  Then, it’s a matter of identifying the owner’s priorities, sequencing the projects, and scheduling. If there are any “down units” that need to get back on-line, it pays to place those apartments or impacting issues on the list of immediate projects.

During our apartment renovation projects, we typically try to make as much impact at the beginning of a project as possible.  This will apartment renovation planallow the owner to start a “New Owner” marketing program quickly and to set improved rents sooner, rather than later.

Planning Project Scope and Specifications

Every line item of your commercial remodeling plan is broken down into such detail that nothing is left out of the process.  Scopes, specifications and construction documents are prepared in detail to maximize the outcome of the finished product and ultimately its value to the end user client, the resident.  Some scopes of work are simple, and require only a written document.  Other apartment renovations require engineering and architectural drawings.

Planning this phase of the apartment renovation is critical. It’s important not to overlook the weeks or months of planning and permitting necessary for the project.  Insufficient planning can end up delaying the completion of the project.  Lack of comprehensive planning is a common mistake in apartment renovations.  Just remember, your time is valuable, but hasty decisions will not only delay a project, they could ultimately become the death of one, too.

Building a Multifamily Redevelopment Team

 In addition to planning, it’s imperative to get the right design teams in place and up to speed on the owner’s vision for the community.  Knowing how their design is going to impact the overall development plan will help each design team understand their role, with whom to collaborate, critical timing, and the level of urgency needed for each task.

Once each of the bid documents is completed, it’s time to go to the market.  Presenting subcontractors, suppliers, and manufacturers with a complete set of plans and expectations will ensure the apartment investors receive the most “bang” for their renovation dollars.

If you are interested in beginning a commercial apartment renovation project, come back soon for part 4, in which we’ll discuss the bidding/negotiation phase of apartment renovations.

Apartment Renovations Part 2: Community Assessment

redeveloping multifamily housing

In our last post we discussed the first step of an apartment renovation project- stretching our imaginations and developing a preliminary budget. Next, it’s time to gain a real-time assessment of conditions at your community. Professional Multifamily Redevelopment performs a comprehensive inspection of the entire property, including site drainage, landscaping, amenities, and complete interior and exterior building inspections.

Before we actually begin the physical inspections, PMR interviews as many members of the on-site team as possible.  This includes maintenance personnel, management, and leasing staff.  Each of these team members can provide a different perspective on the community’s challenges and potential, allowing us to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the property.  We never assume where we’ll gain insightful knowledge about the conditions, market, or next great design idea- everyone contributes.

Inspecting the apartment community to obtain first-hand knowledge of the property is critical.  We often discover conditions the owner or management team is unaware of.  We share this information promptly, especially if we notice a critical issue. We also find it helpful to follow up with the on-site team about their vision as we’re learning more about their community.

Upon inspection and data collection, it’s time to formulate budget ideas.  Again, at this stage, PMR does not stop at an arbitrary budget total.  We put together a comprehensive renovation and cost plan that can be adjusted according to the owner’s decisions.  It’s important to us that our client sees the full potential of the community.

We recommend that apartment owners prioritize their apartment redevelopment construction according to these categories:

  • Life Safety

  • Deferred Maintenance

  • Immediate Repairs

  • Code Compliance Upgrades

  • Unit Interiors

  • Potential Down Units

  • Apartment Building Exteriors

  • Site Improvements

  • Amenities

  • Marketing

From this point, the apartment owner or management team can begin making decisions that will shape the redevelopment and renovation plan.  Repositioning apartment communities is a team effort and an exciting opportunity for you to develop a new vision for your real estate investment.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of our series on apartment renovations, in which we’ll discuss the Scope & Design Development Phase.

Apartment Renovations: Where to Start?

starting an apartment redevelopment

Are you ready to start an apartment renovation? Don’t leave the starting line without a solid plan in place.

If you’re considering repositioning your apartment community, the task can seem overwhelming. Where do you start?  How far do you go? Should you focus on apartment interiors, building exteriors, site work or amenities?  Is your management team up for the challenge?

In all of our apartment renovations, we begin the process by asking our clients to dream big.  Rather than fixating on an arbitrary budget, we open up all the possibilities for complete discussion and review.  PMR’s multifamily redevelopment philosophy is to stretch the imagination first, and dial back down to practicality after examining all the possibilities.  With this approach, we are able to advance your apartment community’s potential using creative solutions.

Once we’ve discussed an overarching vision for your apartments, we get serious with your redevelopment budget. This marriage of creativity and practicality can have some surprising outcomes.  By mapping out the goals for your apartment redevelopment project, we can help you

  • Reduce operating expenses

  • Improve rental income and even the value of the property itself

  • Improve net operating income

  • Address investors’ goals

Renovating your apartment community can help you transform both the physical property and your business. To learn more about repositioning your apartments, stay tuned for our next post when we’ll discuss the conceptual design process of your apartment renovation project, or contact Professional Multifamily Redevelopment.