BTR: Community from the foundation up

The most gratifying aspect of a completed development is what happens when residents start to move in - marking the beginning of the growth of a new community.

Michella Hancock, Managing Director, Greystar | BTR News
Michella Hancock, Managing Director, Greystar.

For some in our industry, the most exciting part about completing a development is just that – completing it. We tend to celebrate the investment and successful execution of engineering, design, project management, construction, and countless hours of work by hugely talented people with a topping out or ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the occasion. Build to Rent is different – the most gratifying aspect of a completed development is what happens when the cut ribbon has been cleared away and residents start to move in. This is the test of all our market research, careful planning and delivery as it marks the beginning of the growth of a new community.  

By Michela Hancock, Managing Director – Europe, Greystar

I often think that our real work starts once the construction is complete.

Our residents are attracted by our high-quality product with amenities that can’t be matched by the private rented sector and the promise of a hassle-free lifestyle thanks to our onsite team members. To create a seamless experience, we have to understand what our customers need and envisage what the overall community will look like from the start. This includes ensuring we have the right mix of home sizes and types, on trend interiors and amenities that our residents will want and actually use. With this infrastructure in place, our hospitality-minded team members can get to know residents and encourage them to socialise through a curated events programme.

Greenford Quay in West London is a good example of a burgeoning community in action. Our site sits in the heart of the neighbourhood and was previously boarded off to the local community. Ealing Council had a clear vision of what it hoped to achieve, which matched with our ambitions for a rental-led community of scale that will deliver more than 2,400 homes.

With our second rental building Lyons Dock due to open next month, Greenford Quay is taking shape with a new waterside walkway, ground floor retail opening, a much needed creche and an expanding public realm. The old adage ‘build it and they will come’ only goes so far though. You need to welcome people in so residents in the surrounding neighbourhood know this new place is as much for them as our customers in the apartments – this is what makes a community.

Our successful Summer Series at Greenford Quay paved the way for a newly enlivened community. There was a farmers’ market and outdoor activities, but much of the entertainment centred around a large screen erected next to the canal. In the daytime, parents and children came to watch the latest animated releases. At night, Greenford Quay came alive with the cheers of avid football fans during the Euros.

With Mental Health Awareness Week just behind us, it feels fitting to highlight the importance of this type of community development in combatting loneliness. With more than 30 years in the business of residential rental housing, our amenity spaces have been conceived and modelled to not only facilitate interactions but to provide people with comfort in solitude. Essentially that feeling of being comfortably alone in company, like working from a coffee shop or reading the newspaper in a park. This creates a sense of belonging and comradery to counteract the spectre of loneliness. Plus, our onsite teams are always on hand with a smile and a wave if you want to stop and chat.

Greystar is focused on the growth of our third-party management platform across Europe, where customer service, resident retention, community building and quality of operations is our key focus. Globally we manage over 500,000 units through our experienced third-party platform for institutional investors and developers. Our expertise mean that we are trusted to manage and operate a wide range of different residential communities – from student and young professionals to families and retirees. It is an honour to be trusted with people’s homes and we look forward to expanding our service offering to become the management platform of choice to residential real estate owners in Europe.

Therefore, the next time you’re at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, don’t think of it as an ending, but rather a new beginning for the thriving community that is about to call the development home.