Whenever I get stir crazy in San Diego, I drive up to LA—not to Hollywood or Santa Monica, but straight to the hip and historic downtown. Just a couple decades ago, LA’s downtown had seen better days, but now it’s bustling with people looking for a bite to eat at the European-style Grand Central Market or gawking at the restored architecture, such as the Gothic-style interior of the Ace Hotel. Theaters, great shopping, dining, museums, and the ilk have all inspired the construction of 1900 new rental units in downtown just last year.
Not that long ago, we took on a pretty big project in downtown LA (or DTLA, as the cool kids call it). Since rents were increasing all over the city, with downtown rates averaging $2,158 a month, we knew we had to do something cutting edge to help this building stand out on the rental market. It began with repurposing an old laundry room and transforming it into an innovative space that would make young renters excited to call the property “home.”
It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Your Laundry Room
You might be wondering why you’d even want to repurpose your building’s laundry room. Renters are becoming less and less willing to make the trek to off-site laundromats, so that dusty old room might still seem appealing. But adding new washers and dryers directly to each unit can provide a great ROI. Not only does it open up space for a new amenity on the property, it also offers benefits for both you and your tenants:
You can raise rents. It may not sound like an exceptional number on paper, but some reports claim you can raise rents by anywhere from $20-$50 a month if each unit has its own washer and dryer. It’s an interior amenity that you can’t find in just any complex and a lot of tenants are willing to pay higher rents for the level of convenience they offer. This additional income adds up quickly and should help you offset the costs of future repairs and replacements, as well as the initial investment of having the machines installed in the units.
You can save money on your water bill. New washing machines use a lot less water than the old ones tenants fight over in the basement—yeah, the ones that use 40 to 47 gallons of water per cycle. Energy-efficient models use up to 29 fewer gallons while also netting you tax credits and the chance to write off the purchase over seven years. Reducing your building’s carbon footprint also holds a lot of appeal for young, socially-conscious renters.
Add a New Amenity in an Old Space
Once you’ve made the choice to switch to in-unit washers, it’s time to transform your old communal laundry space into something fun and enticing for both new and existing renters. Some options include:
Private screenings are popping up more and more in high-end apartment complexes these days. These apartment theaters tend to be relatively small, seating around 18 to 20 guests, and they can feature surround sound, stadium seating, and 4K viewing. Instead of paying $15 and driving through traffic to see a movie at the ArcLight, your tenants can save money and time with their own mini-ArcLight downstairs. It’s a great way to create that community feeling that will keep your tenants happy for the long haul. Plus, they can even bring their own beer and snacks!
The only drawback? Expect it to get booked up months in advance as your renters clamor for movie night!
This one might make you scratch your head, but one of the most popular multifamily residential amenities right now is a golf simulator. While it may sound strange, it offers all the benefits of a driving range right on the property, which means your golf-loving tenants can practice their swing in the comfort of their own home. One manufacturer says they’re virtually maintenance free, space efficient, easy-to-use, and have been installed in residential properties around the world.
Los Angeles used to be home to many cool retro bowling alleys that are being renovated for the younger crowd. Now you can bring this appeal right into your building. One multifamily complex in Denver installed a two-lane bowling alley that has been getting a lot of coverage. An apartment broker says that the alley is likely to be important an important factor to 10 to 20 percent of prospective renters right off the bat, and this number is sure to grow when more people hear about their friends bowling a round and having a beer while their laundry is in the machine upstairs!
How REIG Can Help
Aside from being one of the most trusted names in multifamily property remodeling, we’ve encountered almost every project and have done ones like these before. Our focus on excellence allows us to have relationships with industry-leading subcontractors so we can go above and beyond to create value for investors, residents, and communities. Give us a call when you decide to turn that old laundry room into a cutting-edge community space that can bring you tenants for years to come.