Largest Co-Living Project in the U.S. by FSMY Architects and Planners
June 3, 2020 Deirdra Funcheon, Bisnow South Florida
Last week, move-ins began at Society Las Olas, a 34-story, 639-unit development on the Fort Lauderdale Riverfront that has taken the title of the largest co-living development in the country.
The first building is just Phase 1; when its Phase 2, another similarly sized building, gets constructed, it will feature more than 1,200 units. Property Markets Group Brand and Marketing Director Brian Koles said 20% of its units are rent-by-the-bedroom. Koles downplayed the buzz around the word “co-living,” saying that people have always lived with roommates — developers are now just making it more efficient by offering tweaks like bedrooms with private bathrooms and individual leases. Still, Society Las Olas hits all the trend points: Its 75K SF of amenity space includes a three-level coworking space, a massive gym, a communal kitchen and dining hall, a yoga lawn with a performance stage overlooking the city, a pool deck with hot tubs, a four-story grilling and entertainment terrace, and a salon and café in the lobby. Thompson Hospitality (a minority-owned firm out of Virginia) will operate two restaurants inside: Matchbox and Big Buns Burgers. Society Las Olas is part of PMG’s new brand, Society Living, that has the tagline of “Share Your Best Self.” Society Living is similar to, but separate from, the X brand of apartments that PMG developed with a partner. Koles acknowledged that it was challenging to open a space focused on bringing people together in the midst of a pandemic that calls for social distancing, but, he said, “COVID and political unrest reinforced the importance of home and community.” Society Las Olas had to close off certain communal spaces and cancel some of its group programming, but living where neighbors support each other is more important than ever, he said. Pre-leasing began in January, and Society was able to pre-lease 25% of the building. “We were pleasantly surprised by the leasing velocity over the last, totally unprecedented three months,” Koles said. “We somehow have been able to achieve pre-COVID pre-leasing expectations.” PMG A rendering of the restaurant at Society Las Olas. One of the things Koles has been focused on is making sure that the brand feels welcoming to people of all demographics, not just young ones. It has especially resonated with flight attendants and people who travel a lot for work, he said. Asked if he had advice for anyone else due to open during the pandemic, he said, “Be thoughtful about pricing and everyone’s individual circumstances.” That said, Society Las Olas isn’t offering any rent concessions because pricing was designed from the outset to be affordable to avoid haggling, Koles said. Rents start in the $1,100s. Studios, junior one-bedrooms, one-bedrooms and two-bedroom apartments are available furnished or unfurnished. The rent-by-bedroom option allows a private bedroom and bathroom in a three- or four-bedroom suite with roommates. Society Las Olas has its own mobile app for keyless entry, guest access, thermostats, deliveries, payments and maintenance and registration for social events. PMG has other Society locations under construction in downtown Miami, Orlando and Phoenix. More than 7,500 units are planned in the next five years.