In the race that is getting residents to sign leases, apartments all over Charlotte are scrambling to differentiate themselves from the competition.
When absurd, drool-worthy amenities like poolside drink service from a local bar, on-site massage studios, dog spas, complimentary yoga classes and on-site CrossFit become commonplace, what’s left to do? Up your event game.
Complexes seem to be squaring off to be the one to host the most lavish on- and off-site resident events, like Wine Down Wednesday and dog-friendly meet-ups.
If you’re a transplant or even just new to the area of town, apartment complexes like Camden Gallery feel your pain, and that’s why they host events once a month. They want you to get to know each other – and local vendors in the city – through events like Sweet ‘n Sour Happy Hour with King of Pops, meals catered by Pike’s Soda Shop and Guys vs. Girls Night in their club room.
“Since we’re new, we do it once a month because we do have new people moving in all the time,” a leasing agent explained. “We have a really good turnout. About 30 to 50 people come to our [events], but we’re not fully occupied because we’re still being built. Still, we get a good turnout and everybody is social and neighborly.”
But most communities now try to go further than that, offering events bi-monthly and even weekly.
“We have events, if not once a week, once every other week. At least twice a month on average,” a spokesperson at Skyhouse, which hosts things like pool parties, food trucks and happy hours, said in an interview.
Silos in South End also has a set list of events that happen weekly, like yoga classes, a running club and Saturday morning breakfasts. It’s the big events that get pushed to every other week.
“About a twice a month depending on the time of year, we try to do one or two events,” a representative said. At Silos, these events vary from hosting a food truck or cooking class to having a Margarita Movie Night at the pool.
But with Silos’ ideal location in South End, the leasing office isn’t limited to the complex and takes advantage of the amenities the area has to offer, like Inner Peaks. Events like those are the ones that fill up the fastest, as they may only have 50 spots available.
Many of the complexes I spoke with said that their events also depend on the time of year – think costume parties at Halloween, bracket tournaments for March Madness and mixers around Valentine’s Day.
As for turn out?
The activities with limited spots are “always filled,” and others may have “30 or 40” come out. Other communities, such as Loft One 35 reported having about 30 percent to 50 percent of their residents show up to any given activity, depending on the time, day and type of event.
Some complexes even go so far as to hire third-party vendors to create special events.
Silos, for instance, occasionally brings in an event planner and staff to help with their breakfasts and other events.
Other residences – Greystar properties specifically – take it one step further, hiring and relying on third-party planning company Third Rock Events, the same people behind South End Hops Fest, for every event.
Third Rock works with 14 Greystar properties in the area total and plan one event per day over the properties.
Third Rock planner Shawn Cosner lives in an apartment that’s not part of Greystar and said he has noticed the difference in quality, namely sourcing locally instead of nationally.
“They bring in Domino’s, whereas Third Rock gets places like Pizzeria Ommagio,” he said. “We use local over national, regardless of the cost. We use local musicians for wine and beer tastings, local DJs for pool parties, it goes on and on.”
He said the complexes are happy to shell out the extra cash to take their events to the next level.
“It’s an interesting business because they’re doing this to keep residents happy and get them to stay there, so they won’t go to a competitor,” Cosner told me.
Since January, he’s planned pool parties, wine and beer events, fitness classes, wine and design events and, once, an on-site escape room.
“We had Blackout come and convert a theater room at a property,” he explained. “They were there for eight hours before the event transforming it and had people playing different characters during the game.”
Cosner believes that letting an outside service like Third Rock Events take control of every aspect of the planning from social media to how residents become aware off the events can take them to another level.
“Events have gone from 10, 20 and now we’re averaging 60 people per event.”
But are they working? Maybe, say residents, but maybe not.
“Personally I don’t know if I’ve been to enough to gauge and accurately discuss turnout but I would think overall unless there’s a ton of free sh–, turnout is low,” one resident said.
Another agreed, saying that despite events happening once a week, “I’ve only been to the pool party and when they hand out free stuff as I’m leaving or coming home.”
It also doesn’t help if events aren’t constant enough to be on the residents’ minds. 1420 Magnolia, for instance, tries to do an event “at least every other month” that involve things like happy hour at the spots they’re close to on Park Road, like Brawley’s and Montford.
“If I got a text alert about events it would remind me to go, which is generally the problem,” a resident said. Another agreed that they often forget, since the only reminders are on flyers and sometimes in the resident portal.
The biggest letdown to residents is that despite what they’re there for, events aren’t actually a great way to meet people.
“I haven’t been to any that are intimate enough to talk to other people aside from the people I came with,” someone told me.
This is a sentiment that came up a lot – despite the large amount of events happening relatively consistently, nobody’s seemed to be able to figure out how to make the ‘meeting people’ aspect of it click.