MichiganMultifamily Beyond the four walls: The power of community in property management Monica Steimle-App February 26, 2020 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share via email Innovative household products, smart technology and improved amenities are all changing how residents experience apartment living. But how can property owners raise the bar to keep pace with the ever-evolving nature of the industry? Apartment demand has continued to soar as the next generation searches for a place to call home, with many turning to the rental market in lieu of ownership. And as demand rises and competition continues to evolve, property management companies must offer something beyond the standard apartment to develop meaningful connections with their customer base. Channeling differentiation means providing amenities and services that go beyond the four walls. At Rockford Property Management, we want our renters to develop relationships with their property managers, become immersed in their neighborhoods and – most importantly – engage with the community. To accomplish this, our focus is less on the physical location and more on the experience and connections that accompany the inhabited space. In keeping an eye on changes in several markets, we anticipated that urban renewal developments required a shift toward collaborating with local communities and partners to establish opportunities for local businesses and our residents. As communities experienced infill development and residents began to move back to the urban core, we focused on creating a walkable core community that previously didn’t exist. We worked with industry partners, leveraging the growing urban renewal in the market, to showcase that there is more to offer in urban areas, creating a new lifestyle for residents vastly different than the suburban experience. And in doing so, we made their new home livable beyond just the four walls, expanding the experience to the outside environment within the city. One primary way we worked to further connect our residents and tenants with the wider city community was through the creation of Rock Perks. Rock Perks was designed to offer residents the ability to benefit from exclusive discounts at local businesses throughout Grand Rapids, Michigan. Each partner, including retailers, restaurants, coffee shops, wellness facilities and more, offers a unique experience or product to help enhance the day-to-day lives of the people in our communities. Rock Perks originally launched with 15 partners, and in just over a year the program has grown to nearly 40. Local business is the heart and soul of every neighborhood, and we feel that deeply in Grand Rapids. Our city has a sense of community and genuine respect for one another. The people you pass on the street are your neighbors, your friends and your family. This is a foundational component of the Rock Perks program and was also the inspiration behind our largest event of 2019. As an example of our commitment to strengthening community ties, we hosted our first Summer Bash event in 2019. Held in the courtyard of Fulton Place, we offered a space for people to connect, listen to great music and eat local food. Giveaway items were available to everyone in attendance, and we also worked closely with our Rock Perks partners to develop special giveaways to further encourage our residents to shop, eat and experience local. Ultimately, we understand that by connecting local businesses and our commercial tenants with residents, we help spur the Grand Rapids economy while simultaneously nurturing our incredible community. As cities take the next step in developing housing communities, these questions remain paramount: • What are you doing to set yourself apart? • Why do people choose to call your building their home? By remaining in tune with tenant desires and needs, we can build true communities where neighbors can connect, thrive and prosper. Monica Steimle-App is executive vice president for real estate development for Rockford Construction in Grand Rapids, Michigan.