Multifamily Amenities Get in the Game

With an ever-present focus on mental health and well-being, multifamily firms are looking for ways to draw residents outdoors. Roughly 50% of all apartment households in the U.S. are one person, according to 2021 American Community Survey microdata, U.S. Census Bureau—a number that is quite lonely in a time of remote work and social media.

Expansive resort-style pools, outdoor kitchens, lounge-worthy cabanas, beer gardens, and cozy fire pit areas can set the scene for residents to relax and dine al fresco while also meeting neighbors, but a little healthy competition can also help. The trend of gaming lawns or courtyards has emerged as an easy-to-add amenity for existing communities and for new ones.

“By taking a deep dive into how we can elevate the resident experience, we’ve found new and creative ways to build an environment they genuinely want to spend time in,” says Mark Farrell, president of development at Presidium.

The multifamily developer, owner, and operator has seen a growing interest in bocce ball, cornhole, Ping-Pong, and pickleball amid its list of outdoor amenities, including unique lounge “caves,” rooftop lounging decks, and Zen courtyards. “These games offer opportunities for friendly competition, team building, and outdoor recreation, making them popular choices among multifamily residents,” Farrell notes.

Candid interaction can foster a sense of community between residents, especially at newly opened communities where everyone is a fresh face. Currently under construction in Forney, Texas, is the 336-unit Legacy Gateway, a joint venture between Legacy Partners and The Resmark Cos.

While development plans include pickleball and bocce ball courts, there will also be a turf lawn for cornhole toss and another open green space for additional games and activities. Nestled between the two courts and the turf lawn will be a covered seating area for residents to watch the action.

“Gaming lawns are a very desirable draw for residential communities because they’re intended to be an activated outdoor amenity that generates socializing and recreation,” says Brian McNally, vice president of development and acquisitions at Legacy Partners. “Particularly with people working from home more, there is a strong draw for activities to break up the day. We all know pickleball is in huge demand, but so are yard games in general. It offers a more interactive amenity than just having a pool.”

Thompson Thrift Residential creates game or flex lawns using artificial turf, often oriented around the pools, in most of its communities. The properties offer a variety of games from Yardzee to giant Connect 4 and fowling, a hybrid game of bowling and football. Senior director of civil and landscape design Sara Topolosek says the implementation of artificial turf for flex lawns provides low-maintenance, year-round use for games and lounging.

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