Retaining Wall.

DesignIdeation: Dallas Multi-Family

Heth Kendrick is a LandDesigner through and through. He started his career in our Charlotte headquarters, immersing himself in our storytelling approach to design. In 2014, Heth and his family relocated to our Dallas office to introduce landscape architecture and help drive our mission to ‘Create Places that Matter’ across the nation. He brought with him over a decade of experience in master planning and multi-family design along with the LandDesign passion for storytelling. Heth is now helping multi-family developers think about the city’s growth in a new way.

Below, he tells us what he thinks the future of multi-family development looks like in the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) region:

Q: What trends are you seeing in the Dallas multi-family market? 

A: In DFW, developers are starting to ask design teams how to build a more efficient building that requires less material, but still has a high level of design. As DFW continues to grow, multi-family developers will need to plan for a sustainable future and reinvent the way we develop to accommodate that growth.

Q: In addition to the way we develop, what considerations need to be made to accommodate rapid growth in DFW? 

A: Towns, especially in surban and suburban markets are hesitant to embrace multi-family and densification. In DFW, there’s a desire to grow multi-family outside of the city proper, but there’s push-back from surrounding towns. We need to understand the complexities of densification in terms of transportation, stormwater, utilities, etc., but also how to educate surrounding communities on the benefits of growth.

Q: How does the Dallas multi-family market differ from multi-family development in other markets you’ve worked in? 

A: In Texas, we have far more design freedom than many locations in the U.S. Pool codes are more relaxed, which allows us to be more innovative with how pools can function. This is great, given that our weather affords a nine month pool season! The climate has a huge influence on the design of outdoor amenity spaces and allows them to be the focal point of the community.  

Q: What multi-family amenities are currently trending? 

A: We are working on multi-family all throughout Texas, but amenities are pretty much the same everywhere. Swimming pools are still popular in Texas and Arizona, and everyone wants sun shelves (tanning ledges) and moving water. Dog parks are a given. Ten years ago, dog parks were the cutting edge amenity, but now if your community doesn’t have a dog park then you will not attract residents. 60% of all residential homeowners have pets, so if you don’t have a dog park, people with pets may be less attracted to a multi-family community or they will use the great amenities you are planning as the dog park.

We’re also seeing innovative design opportunities like beer gardens and social gathering spaces. Developers need to understand if their target demographic is the 35 and younger crowd, they’ll want to gather in groups of 14-40. But, you also need to plan those spaces for residents that want to detach and create spaces for groups of one to four.

Q: What factors are influencing multi-family design? (i.e. – technology, sustainability, transportation, etc.)

A: Transportation – We are looking at how automatic vehicles, electric charging stations and drop off points for Uber/Lyft are influencing multi-family design. Just like the dog park 10 years ago, if your community doesn’t have an Uber drop off point you’re behind the times.

Technology – Technology is changing the residential experience from how you tour an apartment to how residents access their rooms. Developers and getting rid of the fob/key system and allowing residents to access their apartment via smartphone. We are also seeing developers integrate tablets into the tour process, allowing potential residents to walk and experience the space at their own leisure.

Sustainability – Our designers are incorporating sustainable design solutions that are showing developers that we can solve some of the world’s problems one development at a time. For example, we are placing honey bees on the rooftop of a multi-family community, which will allow management to harvest the honey and gift it to potential residents and sell to local businesses. Our DC office was the inspiration behind that!

Q: What do you anticipate happening to the multi-family market in the next 10-20 years? 

A: Changes will need to be made based on the conversations about transportation. We’ll see developers backfilling developments as parking garages and surface parking becomes less dependent on vehicles. We can increase density by retrofitting parking garages to allow for more residential units and transform surface parking into open space.

Additionally, a challenge with Texas is that there aren’t a lot of natural growth barriers, and cities will continue to sprawl into suburban areas. We’ll start to see more edge cities like Plano, Frisco and Arlington becoming cities unto themselves and shifting from a suburban community to a new urban market.