Some tenants gravitate to new construction, even moving from one unit to a new one just to access the latest technology features available to them in the property. Bottom line: Technology is important.

But, when you are a developer, it’s a risk. The challenge of specifying a new technology and investing in it is that it could quickly become obsolete. Who wants to install something in hundreds of units and have it be insignificant by the time tenants move in.

JPI uses Dwelo, a smart-home platform that allows users to control their locks, thermostats, and lights with their smartphone or any Internet-enabled device.

“What is now state of the art will be commonplace in the future,” says Matt Brendel, senior vice president and development partner, Central Region, for JPI, the developer on the Next Generation MFE Concept Community. “We are making plans to expand our home automation beyond security, lighting, and HVAC. Resident expectations are quickly moving toward a more connected and convenient lifestyle.”

JPI, like most other developers, are trying to come up with the right equation to offer integrated technology systems, while introducing innovations with each new community. Figuring that out is no easy task. The developer tests expanded home automation and other new technologies in recently delivered communities. After installing the new technologies, JPI surveys residents for their input, which it uses to perfect an ideal system before introducing it on a wider scale.

“We are prudent and data-driven in our approach,” Brendel says.

Convenience and security don’t always work together but are two priorities for the JPI team. JPI properties offer Wi-Fi in the common areas for speed and convenience. For security purposes, JPI properties have transitioned to using electronic key fobs that are programmed to allow access not only to individual units but other resident-only areas like gyms, parking garages, and lounges.

JPI uses ButterflyMX, a cloud-based intercom system, as an efficient and customizable solution.

“The comfort and security of our residents is very important to us,” Brendel adds. “We have recently integrated a smartphone video intercom platform that allows residents to see who is requesting access to the community through their phones. This system also has a unique capability of allowing residents to provide guests with a unique QR code to access the building, instead of having to approve each person as they arrive.”

Protecting the Investment
The goal for JPI is to build Class A multifamily projects that are designed to be timeless.

“In order to deliver the highest-quality communities, we are constantly innovating,” says Brendel. “We often get inspiration from other real estate sectors like hospitality and custom single-family. We also attend conferences and trade shows in many different spaces, including architecture, hospitality, construction, and technology. We have invested in a design process that is led by professionals with extensive experience and have devoted resources to remain the best residential company in the markets we serve for years to come.”

Developers have to keep an eye on what investors and lenders find attractive and are willing to invest in. Institutional investors and lenders are interested in the viability of long-term assets, which very often ends up counter to taking a risk on a new innovative technology that the residents will love.

When JPI is considering technology, the company also has to consider the total lifespan of the property every step of the way, beginning with the site selection and property design.

The idea of future-proofing a property to make the technology in it relevant for a long time to come is very important to investors. Both lenders and investors want to know that a project will contribute to a community for the term of the investment. With today’s knowledge and access to data, developers can make a case for what will make the most impact and, in some or most cases, even justify the numbers.

“We evaluate every investment we make with a data-driven approach so the decisions we make provide the best risk-adjusted returns for our investors,” Brendel says.

For more expert advice on building for the next generation, visit or watch the presentation at the Multifamily Executive Conference, Sept. 18-20, in Las Vegas.