Since the whole point of our research project is to explore health and wellness in multifamily housing, the REACH research team decided first to take a look at how these types of strategies might be making it into the local market. This was also a nice opportunity to test out our interview questions for our participant developers in other locations. And just maybe we could get a glimpse of what we might be seeing in other cities.
Talking with one prominent local developer, we were interested in “how” and “why” they might be interested in including health and wellness themes in their market-rate multifamily projects. One of the first things that became apparent during our conversations was that there was indeed an interest in health, because potential residents were interested in access to healthy opportunities. Good news!
The health strategies were framed in terms of amenities: access to greenways and walking paths, pools, gyms with chilled towels, juice bars, and CrossFit areas open to the public. Health strategies at the unit level, such as indoor air quality and daylight, were mentioned, but really were not a focus. Most unit-level strategies are being addressed in green building ratings systems, and as a result are now more of the norm in design and construction. That’s another bit of good news!
Overall, the health strategy they mentioned the most was community connectivity. Access, access, access. Walkability, bikability, and access to healthy foods. These themes are certainly a tenant of public health discourse, and important to the place-based design and branding that multifamily developers highly value. Seeing how these developers addressed health and wellness gave us something to look for in our future conversations.