The assumption that all apartment tenants want big, fancy kitchens where they can entertain lots of guests is being tested. What apartment developers are discovering is that millennials, who have shown a strong preference for renting, are looking for something much different.

In the article Aug. 1 article  “Apt. Features Need to Focus on Form and Function” by Carrie Rossenfeld on, developers continue to try to make their apartments more appealing by installing “more robust appliances – like the Thermador or Bosch name – or more robust anything in the kitchen,” said John Burns Real Estate principal Mollie Carmichael. “Gone is the era of apartments that are a nice place to hang your hat, but you’re not going to cook in that kitchen.”

However, millennial renters are a different breed.

David Sorensen, associate director in Berkadia’s Seattle office, noted the differences in the millennial generation’s preferences in the article “Beyond Walkability: What Millennial Renters Value” by Paul Bubny.

In Bubny’s article, posted Aug. 1, Sorensen pointed to a developer who built a millennial-friendly multifamily project near Amazon’s headquarters about a year and a half ago and recently returned for a tour.

“He went through a few units and was shocked to see how many people still had the original plastic wrap on the appliances,” Sorensen said in the article. “So that’s really the story of what this demographic values; it’s not necessarily ‘do I have the nicest stove,’ it’s more ‘what is in this building that will draw me to it versus other buildings.’”

That might be “additional amenity space in the building, or a bigger gym or more collaborative workspace with a coffee machine,” Sorensen told

Millennials also are influencing how developers are using retail space within mixed-use developments, moving away from typical tenants, such as a bank or a drugstore.

“In order to create a brand and a cool factor within the building, we’re seeing developers move past those traditional types of tenants and work with local bar owners or local restaurateurs,” Sorensen said in Bubny’s article. He goes on to give the example of a developer working with a local restaurateur whose locations follow a farm-to-table theme.

“They actually put a chicken coop on the roof of the building to use the eggs within the restaurant,” Sorensen said in the article. “The developer used the farm-to-table theme to create a buzz and brand recognition that wouldn’t have been seen in apartment buildings of earlier generations.”