‘Urbys’ Offer a New Approach to Housing Millennials

What do millennials want when it comes to housing? The answer: pretty much everything.

The “Urby” – a mixed-use residential development that brings a little bit of city, a little bit of community, and a little bit of entertainment to a little apartment – may be the answer. Emphasizing “New Urbanist” principles such as walkable neighborhoods and access to public transportation, Urby developments are designed to attract successful urban professionals.

New Jersey-based Ironstate Development Co. calls its Staten Island complex Urban Ready Life (URL), and describes it in a recent CityLab article as “an all-encompassing living experience for today’s urbanite.” Each apartment complex includes ultramodern living units, ground-level retail stores, and amenities that include fitness centers, heated outdoor pools, and keyless entry via a phone app.

Key to an Urby such as this is providing opportunities for social interaction. The goal is to use common areas to organize activities for millennial apartment dwellers; coffee shops in the lobbies, communal kitchens, and a cultural director offer many chances for interpersonal connections between residents. URL residents, for example, can gather for stand-up comedy in the café, flower arranging in the workshop, or stump-the-chef in the kitchen.

The apartments themselves are inspired by European design and use European techniques for making small spaces feel bigger. While planning, the developer considered what its millennial market would and would not live without. The result: built-in shelving, pocket doors, and kitchen and bathroom “stations.” Nonessentials included room to entertain, as the entertaining takes place in communal spaces. Sounds ideal for this work-hard, play-hard generation.