A Community for the Facebook Age
A cyber café is one of the many indoor amenities offered by The Lofts at Willow Creek, a 14-acre mixed-use office and residential community located in Beavercreek, OH. According to David Anderson – one half of Indianapolis-based Anderson Birkla Investment partners, LLC, which developed The Lofts – the purpose of the cyber café is to provide residents with a convenient place to check popular social media websites they may use, such as Facebook or Twitter.
It’s fitting that The Lofts provides residents with a place to tweet and post status updates because of how much The Lofts themselves have in common with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites. After all, those websites increase one’s proximity to the world and so, too, does living at The Lofts.
Among the other indoor amenities offered by The Lofts are a 24-hour health and fitness club, private cinema, executive business center, and billiards. Far from being scattered throughout the complex, these amenities can be found in the same general area – a purposeful bit of design that illustrates Anderson Birkla’s desire to bring residents together via strong communal areas.
“What’s amazing is, a lot of times, people don’t use necessarily everything, and a lot of times it’s all just been more for show, to get (prospective residents) in the door to sign the lease,” said Anderson of how amenities are laid out in other communities. “But in this case, the concept works, the space being in one building ... that has over 50 units. It gets heavily used after hours ... there’s people that join little groups and they go down and have a little meal, have a little chat, play a little poker. So, it’s pretty cool. People have parties down there.”
But the fun isn’t limited to indoors. Residents of The Lofts can walk outside and enjoy the Resort Pool area, lap lane, fire pit, and outdoor dining area, which sits under a trellis and is outfitted with grills. It’s another strong communal area, where the outdoor amenities are grouped together, much like their indoor counterparts are.
So strong, in fact, was Anderson Birkla’s desire for a community based on proximity and convenience that it’s reflected in not only the layout of the communal areas, but also in where The Lofts are located. Fairfield Commons is nearby and offers anything a resident could want, from restaurants to coffee shops. Wright Patterson Air Force Base and Wright State University are also close, and two I-675 interchanges are just a mile away. Countless things are at one’s disposal at The Lofts, just as countless things – friends, family, photos, etc. – are at one’s fingertips on Facebook. Such convenience is increasingly becoming an expectation by younger generations across all areas of life, and that’s exactly who The Lofts are marketed to.
“Primarily in the Midwest we are focused on a target market – young, urban, 25-35 year-old renter – by choice,” said Tony Birkla, Anderson Birkla’s other half. “So, what we have done is, obviously, tried to meet the needs of that person, which is trying to provide a building and an atmosphere that is collaborative. We’re trying to get residents to live outside of their space, (providing) them all the amenities, both indoors and outdoors.”
Catering to the needs of younger generations who have had their perceptions of convenience and immediacy transformed by usage of social media will undoubtedly become the next great challenge for the service industry. With projects like The Lofts, Anderson Birkla has met that challenge head-on. “I think the target audience, a young professional, is looking for something that is differentiated and not traditional,” Birkla said. “Everything that’s been developed in the Midwest has primarily been traditional, except for in the urban quarters, and what we’re trying to do is create a product that ... has a little bit more of a trend to it.
“Whether it be residents over retail or residents next to retail, everything has to be in close proximity to a greater mixed use – whether it be office, retail, hospitality – making it convenient for the residents. Everything is a convenience for the residents.”
Photos by Tony Frantz