Designing for the Modern Tenant

Written by: Laura Colgan


Multifamily and mixed-use developments have seen a recent shift in tenant values in the last few years. Environments conducive to wellness, adaptive multi-use spaces, incorporation of new technology, and proximity to conveniences are at the forefront. While high-end finishes and grand architectural gestures make bold first impressions, what drives a tenant’s decision is the positive impact a space has on their quality of life. Gathering and applying this knowledge during the design development phase will maximize the opportunity for tenant satisfaction.


As of January 2023, only 37% of CRE professionals polled use tenant surveys to influence design development. Lifestyles have abruptly changed in the last few years; it is more important now than ever to understand the needs of prospective tenants and communities.


The following are four strategies to help position new multifamily and mixed-use developments for success.



Market analysis conducted before the design development phase produces critical information to guide the design process. Current market trends on a broad and local scale, population and business demographics, and strengths and shortcomings of local competitors all impact the design approach for new mixed-use development. An often overlooked market research strategy is engaging directly with the community. This strategy offers the opportunity to understand better how the community functions. Embracing community input and integrating feedback into new mixed-use developments will strengthen local support and provide critical insights.


One tenant need on the rise is living and working in environments that support wellness and wellness practices. The demand for wellness real estate has tripled since 2020 and will remain at the forefront of the industry in the coming years. Spaces that promote improved health and the flexibility to accommodate wellness practices are high-value features for new tenants. Focusing on sustainable materials, incorporating biophilic design principles, including state-of-the-art wellness amenities, and encouraging prosocial behavior through design will place new developments above the rest.


The rise in remote and hybrid work has significantly impacted the use of new technology in mixed-use developments. Tenants expect basic tech amenities, once considered luxuries, to make life more efficient. Keyless entry and locking, in-unit security video systems, and utility controls via smartphone are some examples of tech considered standard in the most cutting-edge developments. Furthermore, utilizing smart technology is proven to decrease maintenance costs and improve the overall efficiency of building systems through proactive system assessment technology.


While it is essential to meet the needs of the modern tenant in-unit, it is also vital to consider how the development will function within the surrounding community. The 20-minute neighborhood is a design concept that makes achieving daily tasks efficient and easily accessible to tenants within a 20-minute radius. This growing trend has proven to improve quality of life, increase property value, and have positive environmental impacts across the US, Europe, and Australia. Creating these walkable neighborhood-like developments promotes wellness and a sense of community, reduces carbon emissions, and attracts new tenants who align with these values.



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