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How COVID is Forcing New Development Choices

BHI is one of the premier developers in the DMV, with more than 25 years of experience. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many developers and builders to reconfigure what and where they build. Previous to the pandemic, consumers in the DC area were looking for luxury condo units with great amenities like gyms, common area game rooms, movie theaters, and large indoor spaces.

Post-COVID many developers have had to tear up plans for projects that featured small kitchens, few balconies, and large amenity spaces, and began redrawing projects that include large breakfast islands in the chef’s kitchen, large rooms that can be converted into offices, and larger balconies with amenities like built-in heating systems, all encouraging people to stay in their homes more, rather than venturing out.

For builders, structural changes include upgraded ventilation systems and more elevator banks in an effort to allow for cleaner air circulation and private entrance elevators that serve only three-five units per floor. Buyers will work out in a series of small exercise rooms and gather with friends at a restaurant in glass atriums or outside garden-style patios.

The costs of these changes will most likely be passed onto to the consumer over the next couple of years. For example, a unit originally listed at $300,000 to $500,000 range, may now cost buyers $350,000 to $750,000 for the larger, enhanced units

Rental developers also are betting the post-crisis market will reward them for adding or installing specialized furniture that can make a small space seem larger so residents can work from home more comfortably.

“Because of COVID, many developers are building shorter mixed-use buildings, with more stairs to encourage residents to use them and decrease elevator density. Spaces that once included music studios, art galleries, and community cooking-and-dining areas are being converted to more private outdoor areas or indoors areas with glass partitions, to give a sense of togetherness while creating physical separation.

Many high-end luxury developments will have infrared cameras in the lobby to detect when someone walks in with an elevated temperature. Some are even going a step further by offering special deals to medical providers to move into their buildings. As developer Daniel Kodsi describes a scenario like this “imagine a shelter-in-place situation, and having doctors, nurses and a pharmacy right downstairs,”[1]what a great amenity.

We think his words describe the situation best “Health is the new wealth,”[2].

[1] The Wall Street Journal, COVID is Forcing Real-Estate Developers to Rethink Buildings By Katy McLaughlin Aug. 10, 2020 [2] The Wall Street Journal, COVID is Forcing Real-Estate Developers to Rethink Buildings By Katy McLaughlin Aug. 10, 2020

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