The Need for Speed

Developers are on the hook to provide high-speed WiFi and spaces to connect one-on-one.

In the Smartphone Age, most professionals expect high-speed Internet access everywhere, and that demand is impacting developers.

In terms of connectivity, “What was acceptable five years ago is no longer acceptable,” says Cindy DeFrancesco, Senior Vice President of Multifamily Operations for Southern Land Company.

But the expectations of a wireless generation creates a conundrum: people want to be able to use their phones all the time, but they also want spaces where they can engage face-to-face. “As much as people want to be connected to technology, they also want to be connected to their neighbors,” says DeFrancesco.

Developers are coming up with interesting ways to meet these two demands. Some, as described in this LinkedIn post, are creating Internet Cafés.

For its part, Southern Land Company is adding innovative on- and offline elements to its new mixed-use building at4000 Hillsboro in Nashville, Tennessee.  First off, the building will have fast wireless access in all public spaces.

“Typically you find WiFi in the office area, the club area, the business lounge area and all the public areas, “DeFrancesco says. “We actually take it one step further – we’re researching how to insert the technology to make it possible to have a booster in the hallways.” This would allow people fast access even when they walk in between their apartment and the pool or their car.

To encourage residents to socialize, the building will have multiple spaces where people can either congregate and chat or enjoy their screen time. One example is sky lounge, a 12th-floor area that will have comfortable, social seating as well as more isolated spaces.

The building’s gym will also have WiFi-connected workout gear such as Peloton bikes. These bikes are stationary but allow users to join a virtual class.  “That means through technology and wireless capabilities, residents can stream live cycling workouts from the top instructors in the world,” DeFrancesco says. “You can literally drop into a class in Manhattan.”

She says she and her colleagues continue to research ways to keep residents connected to the cloud as well as the community around them.