Co-living . . . new concept or simply a revival of an age-old way of life?

Aaron Galvin (left) and Noah Gottlieb believe the amenities available in a co-living development like “L – Logan Square” will be very popular.

Depending on your generation, you may have a different idea of where the trend towards community style living concepts comes from. Many baby boomers remember growing up with Grandma in the upstairs apartment or multiple generations living and working the family farm. Millennials and Gen-Xers may look to their college days of dorms, frats and sororities. Co-living is also familiar for those in need, either financially or due to a disability. No matter where you may have experienced this type of lifestyle, it is now coming back in a new and chic way.

One feature of TOD living is plenty of room for bicycles instead of car parking spaces for every resident.

While sharing an apartment certainly isn’t anything new, having it developed specifically to accommodate this lifestyle is. REALTOR® Aaron Galvin, Managing Broker and Owner of Luxury Living Chicago Realty, and Noah Gottlieb, Principal of Property Markets Group, are part of the next wave of co-living. Gottlieb is the developer of “L – Logan Square” where Galvin is the leasing agent. This building offers a community lifestyle in addition to an affordable entryway into higher cost areas of the city. The building offers amenities customarily found in luxury style buildings. However, if you are willing to rent a bedroom in a three-unit apartment with others, then this concept is for you. The building is also considered a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) so it has 60 parking spaces for 120 units in its garage but it has a home for bicycles and you can walk to the “L”. On your way, you can grab a coffee or cereal from the lobby area that is also part of the package.

An open-air deck area includes a refurbished “L” car provides a unique place to hang out with friends.

The co-living concept of this building includes socially programmed amenities like an open-air deck area that actually includes a refurbished “L” car where you can hang out with friends and neighbors. Galvin and Gottlieb both say this is a not just an apartment, it is a lifestyle experience. The popularity of this concept is evident in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Oakland and cities where they already have several similar concepts from converted single family homes to multi-family options. Property Markets Group is also in the process of developing over 3,500 units in Denver, New York, and Miami. The next Chicago project for Galvin and Gottlieb will be located in University Village and target graduate students and young professionals associated with the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) and the Illinois Medical District. Eventually they plan to implement nationally a “membership” wherein you always have a place to workout or hang out when in other cities across the country that have a building under their corporate umbrella.

The sharing economy includes real estate, says Galvin, and they wanted to come up with a creative solution to address the demand of today’s consumers. While millennials would be attracted to the concept, it would work for anyone willing to be part of a “shared cultural and living experience at a tremendous value.” Most luxury style buildings near transportation are out of reach for many, Gottlieb says, so “the relative affordability for the amenities offered simply can’t be matched in the marketplace.”

Bill Caton

This concept is also gaining popularity globally as well. Cities like Paris, London, Tokyo, Bali, and Berlin all have co-living buildings under development. The cachet overseas is motivating foreign investors to find demand opportunities in Chicago as well. REALTOR® Bill Caton, CIPS, Principal of Caton Commercial Real Estate Group, recently returned from the MIPIM Real Estate Conference in Cannes, France where he met Evan Kasper, Co-founder and Managing Director of Berlin based Medici Living Group (MLG), the largest co-living provider in Europe. Kasper is leading MLG’s expansion of its upscale brand, Quarters, into the United States. MLG works with developers to implement their model in existing, in process, or planning stage multifamily buildings. Kasper says there is a mismatch between the supply of luxury housing products and the demand of young professionals. Caton along with son and business partner REALTOR® Steve Caton and Senior Broker, REALTOR® Andy Velkme, CIPS, who are all representing MLG agree with Kasper’s assessment.

Andy Velkme

Young professionals are more adventurous and “experience-focused” than ever before, says Velkme, and they are looking for ways to simplify and expedite the burdensome facets of life. Moving to a world-class city, finding a nice place to live, buying furniture and meeting new friends takes time, energy and money. The Quarters concept uses technology and market expertise to solve the dilemma by satisfying all those needs quickly. MLG also appreciates the benefit of the membership model in leasing.

Steve Caton

“This concept is not just about sharing expenses with roommates, and simplifying the rental process,” says Steve Caton, “it is a revolutionary transformation for the traditionally ridged asset class of real estate. Residents are looked at more like members, and they have access to move around the world in three clicks online, creating more mobility for a younger workforce.”

The co-working area is another amenity included with some developments. The concept has been popular with the start-up community that often shares ideas as well as living spaces.  While this seems more of a trend for millennials, the senior community has been enjoying a similar lifestyle model for a while. Earlier concepts such as Del Webb® or The Villages® in Florida offer “community” as part of their appeal. While these offer separate single family homes, shared home concepts and apartments are gaining popularity in order for seniors to be able to age-in-place. As communities update their comprehensive land-use plans and zoning ordinances, the Illinois REALTORS® has put together a senior housing toolkit for municipalities to help find solutions to satisfy these growing demands.

It seems that there isn’t one factor that has created this resurgence and nuance to some of our former lifestyles. Minimalism is gaining popularity and land is scarce in many urban areas, so the desire for community and affordability of amenities consumers couldn’t otherwise enjoy are all factors that seem to be feeding into the growing demand.

Here are eight take-aways from MIPIM 

MIPIM 2016 attracted more than 21,000 people to what's billed as the largest real estate conference in the world.

MIPIM 2016 attracted more than 21,000 people to what’s billed as the largest real estate conference in the world.

CANNES, FRANCE — The Illinois REALTORS® sent a delegation of members to the annual MIPIM conference in Cannes, France, last week.

For those not familiar with the event, it’s billed as one of the largest real estate investment conferences in the world. This year it attracted more than 21,000 people, and the exhibits spilled out of the Palais des Festivals and into pavilions located outside the Palais.

The Illinois REALTORS® took part in this event for the second year. Here are a few takeaways, in no particular order:

London's pavilion featured a scale model of the Thames River district. It took up a quarter of the pavilion.

London’s pavilion featured a scale model of the Thames River district. It took up a quarter of the pavilion.

  1. This beats any global event you’ve ever been to: The sheer size of this conference is awing, drawing as it does thousands of decision makers who are looking for portfolios in which to invest. You have large real estate investment trusts, hotel groups, architectural firms and governments involved. What results as a four-day conference packed with presentations and networking events. Attendees will tell you it’s what happens at the sides of this conference in social settings that make going worth it.

    IAR Immediate Past President Jim Kinney meets with a visitor at MIPIM 2016.

    Illinois REALTOR® Immediate Past President Jim Kinney meets with a visitor at MIPIM 2016.

  2. Which leads to point two: You never know who you will meet that can impact your business. The U.S. portion of this show is small relative to the European interests represented. But the U.S. presence is growing and there is interest in U.S. investment. There were many people who stopped by the Illinois REALTOR® booth in the NAR Pavilion. Members who attended as part of global outreach for their businesses said they felt they made meaningful connections which could yield economic benefit to their bottom lines. As REALTOR® Alex Ruggieri put it: I always get paid. I just don’t know when I am going to get paid.”

    An exterior shot of the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France, where MIPIM 2016 was held.

    An exterior shot of the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France, where MIPIM 2016 was held.

  3. The investment is worth it. Yes, it does cost a chunk of money to attend. It cost more than $1,000 to register, and the costs increase when you add the plane tickets and the hotel. But the opportunity to talk one-on-one with decision makers who you might bump into in a buffet line or at a reception is priceless from a networking standpoint. One colleague at another state association just happened to run into a principal at a major company looking to transact business in his state. It seems the business was looking for a REALTOR®, a connection that was happily handled out of this happenstance meeting.

    Istanbul created a massive map and computer-generated presentation to showcase opportunities in the city.

    Istanbul created a massive map and computer-generated presentation to showcase opportunities in the city.

  4. The scope of what you’ll see is staggering: Take this for instance. Instanbul, Turkey is marketing developments including some tied to a new airport. To do this, the country created a massive scale model of the city, accompanied by a wide-screen cinematic presentation that was as visually compelling as any economic development presentation we’d seen. Turkey was not alone, though. Cities, some of which were not exactly household names in the U.S., threw millions into telling the story of why investment was a good idea.

    Many of the exhibitors had food available for those who stopped by. The Copenhagen booth had a chef serving up snacks.

    Many of the exhibitors had food available for those who stopped by. The Copenhagen booth had a chef serving up snacks.

  5. You can subsist on free food at the event: Many of the bigger players have exhibits that feature food and beverages. We saw offerings ranging from espresso bars to sushi. Several German cities partnered to create a massive beer garden. And yes, there were more than a few exhibits that featured full bars as reception time came around.

    Yacht receptions are a feature of MIPIM. There are scores of these high-end watercraft lined up outside the Palais.

    Yacht receptions are a feature of MIPIM. There are scores of these high-end watercraft lined up outside the Palais.

  6. Did we mention the yachts? Look, IAR did not have one, but there were many companies that did use yachts as a place to talk to visitors. There was millions of dollars of high-end cruising craft docked outside the Palais. So, naturally, seeing the yachts was a big thing. And getting to attend a reception on one of those yachts was an even bigger thing. (Several members did make it to one of the parties.)

    REALTORS® Joan Caton, Alex Ruggieri and Bill Caton share a moment at the MIPIM conference in Cannes, France. They were among Illinois REALTOR® members promoting the state as a place to in

    REALTORS® Joan Caton, Alex Ruggieri and Bill Caton share a moment at the MIPIM conference in Cannes, France. They were among Illinois REALTOR® members promoting the state as a place in which to invest.

  7. Illinois REALTORS® were well represented, and their presence was noted: Illinois REALTORS® leadership attended this event. But we also had some partners who came, as well. REALTOR® Maurice Hampton was there for the second time; REALTORS® Adrianna Sidel and Bill Caton were there. And REALTOR® Alex Ruggieri attended, too. They provided expertise in the booth in telling the story of why investment in Illinois was desirable. It was clear from the folks who stopped by that there was an awareness of the state, and particularly Chicago. And the delegation met with at least one major development operation that was getting ready to spend serious money in the Chicago area.

    An exterior of the entrance to MIPIM 2016 at the Palais des Festivales in Cannes, France.

    An exterior of the entrance to MIPIM 2016 at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France.

  8. Serious about the global side of your business? Start planning now for the next year. The association is committed to going back to MIPIM next year. And already we are brainstorming what to do differently and how to involve more members in this important outreach. What’s important is having a strong portfolio of properties for investors to see. At least one attendee said he was asked by an investor for the opportunity to review an entire holding portfolio.