How Technology is Creating Communities in Multifamily
By Maggie Wilson @ Real Estate Daily
July 3, 2018

Technology is becoming increasingly influential in different parts of the real estate industry. Property managers in the multifamily segment are using technology to attract and retain residents, and it’s working.

Real estate professionals and owners of luxury condominiums and apartments recently sat down for a panel at an Urban Land Institute event in Boston. The topic of discussion: how multifamily building owners and developers are using technology to enhance community experiences for their residents.

Key Takeaways

  • Technology is becoming an essential part of retaining residents through a sense of community
  • Building owners are using technology like mobile apps to communicate and cater to their residents in real time
  • Projects like Ollie, a 14-story residential development, are offering a new type of “all-inclusive living”


Moderated by Ted Tye, managing partner at National Development, the panel included Sue Hawkes, managing director of the Collaborative Companies (TCC), a Boston-based residential real estate marketing firm specializing in luxury condominiums; Lauren Jezienicki, vice president of development for Bozzuto, a national luxury apartment owner/developer; and Chris Bledsoe, cofounder and chief executive officer of Ollie, a new co-living model with locations in New York and Pittsburgh, with Los Angeles, Boston, and Jersey City developments in the pipeline.

“The technology piece is really unbelievable in our business,” said Tye at the opening of the session. “I’ve never seen anything like it, and it’s moving at an incredible pace.” His firm, which develops, owns, and operates properties across the commercial real estate spectrum in Massachusetts, developed Ink Block, a multiphased, mixed-use residential complex comprising 315 luxury apartments, 77 high-end condominiums, a 206-key AC Hotel, and 85,000 square feet (7,900 sq m) of retail space (including a Whole Foods) in Boston’s revitalized South End. The final phase of the project is now being developed in partnership with Ollie. A 14-story residential development, dubbed “7INK by Ollie,” is set be delivered in 2020, and will be Boston’s first major co-living development.

The name Ollie is a play on “all-inclusive living,” and the firm’s buildings provide fully furnished studios and shared suites with hotel-style services, curated events, and a suite of additional amenities. “Co-living means different things to different groups, and I don’t think there’s an established definition at this point,” said Bledsoe. “For Ollie, co-living is strictly interpreted as communal living, and it’s the ‘living’ piece that is more interesting, because we’re really looking at how we can bring living outside the four walls [of the apartment]—both within and outside the building.”

Ollie marries the concepts of micro housing to communal living, bringing in community managers to activate the building’s common space with events like “Ollie Talks” (the company’s version of TED talks), rooftop gatherings catered by local chefs, and sunset yoga sessions. In addition, Ollie takes the communal living outside the building into the city (“the neighborhood itself is an amenity”) and beyond, creating activities such as hiking, tubing, and ski trips. All of the events are available for residents via the “Ollie Social” app ($256 per year), which organizes the group experiences. Ollie also has a roommate matching service (called Bedvetter), which combines an intelligent matching algorithm with an intuitive interface to determine optimal living partners.

The key to being able to provide the level of service (including weekly housekeeping) while controlling costs is by increasing density—either by shrinking the studios or increasing the number of bedrooms per unit. “If you give us space back, we will return lifestyle to you in ways that are more relevant,” explained Bledsoe.

View the original article at Urban Land Institute