Senior Living: 7.
Welcome to the New Urbanism Neighborhood
Author: Amy Johnson
The baby boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, is growing up. Some are empty nesters, some are retiring, and some 78 million are ready for a new kind of living. As they adjust to a new lifestyle centered around leisure and entertainment, this generation is looking to downsize and find a home that better meets their post-retirement needs.
Let’s make something very clear; this aging generation has no intention of settling into the assisted living or a retirement homes like their parents did (they actually dread the thought). Baby boomers are the first to welcome their 60+ years with excitement—an opportunity for financial freedom, flexibility, and fun. This outlook is giving rise to a distinctly new kind of senior living community that offers independent living, modern conveniences, and a new beginning. In other words, senior living is embracing the development philosophy known as New Urbanism.
The rise in these developments clearly aren’t coincidental. Many real estate and multifamily developers have noticed the buzz surrounding the senior living market. These communities are becoming more distinguished, purposeful, and sought-after as architects and developers are turning the needs and lifestyle of the boomers into attractive amenities and new urbanist communities.
Out with the old, in with the New Urbanism
As trends come and go, some stick around to make a true impact on the community. New Urbanism is one of those. Stemming from the original philosophy of Walt Disney, New Urbanism was initially conceptualized as a “community of the future.” Disney envisioned these garden cities with an urban core to be a solution against the chaotic lifestyle of urban cities.
Today, the school of thought mimics much of what Disney had dreamed up. Communities are designed around an urban center with walkability, sustainability, and connectivity at the forefront. The sheer design concept makes senior living a great fit for the new frontier of New Urbanism.
A neighborhood for the neighborly
While many boomers are opting to “age in home,” meaning embracing the advances in technology to maintain their needs without relying on assisted living, there’s a clear market for senior living in the multifamily space. As New Urbanist ideals begin to alter the designs of these communities, more of the demographic is drawn to the thoughtful design of housing, amenities, and the surrounding community.
This generation is very mindful of amenities and community design. From technology and nature trails to accessible and entertaining amenities, they’re looking for a new horizon of living. Here are some lifestyle amenities that fit under the New Urbanist umbrella and can truly set a senior living development apart.
Step it up
When downgrading in size, many boomers will hope to make up for it in community. Connecting with neighbors is a way of life within a New Urbanist design. When walkability is at the core, how could you not run into your neighbor as you head to the store, your favorite restaurant, or the lake nearby? Communities like Parkview Living1 in Los Angeles, embrace an active senior living environment that overlooks the downtown and is built around Echo Park and Lake, as well as nearby restaurants, shops, churches, and hospitals for a pedestrian-friendly experience.
As walkability is becoming a way of living, it’s quickly becoming a staple of senior living developments; one that embraces the the new urbanist values. With New Urbanism, communities are consciously built around the neighborhood, and even more so, around the people living in the community.
Location, location, location
The New Urbanist design is structured to provide radial access to your surroundings with a distinct urban core and city center. Adding a mixed-use concept to senior living developments gives residents the ability to walk to the grocer and restaurants, wellness center & bookstores, and nature trails & dog parks. Conscious building benefits everyone, however, an aging generation is likely to especially enjoy the simplicity and ergonomic environment built down to the street corner for their needs.
A purposeful strategy in mixed-use design for senior living gives residents a whole new meaning for neighborhood. Highlands Garden Village2, for example, is a New Urbanism award-winning and mixed-use neighborhood in Denver, offering senior residents the ability to live, work, and shop all within a minutes walk from their home. Walkscore.com3 identifies a neighboorhood’s walkability index, ranging from 82 being very walkable to 69 being bikeable with minimal lanes; HGV lands a promising 84, which is an impressive amenitiy for residents.
A luxury/elevation in urban living
Senior living communities that are adopting the New Urbanism philosophy have a keen sense for understanding the resident. Sustainable designers consider the neighborhood, the structure, and the experience. With this urban senior living model, baby boomers are relocating to high-rise developments that are structured to reinvent the urban lifestyle.
New Urbanism-style communities allow for diverse living environments and mobility. Properties like The Clare4 in Chicago offer senior residents the luxury of walking downstairs to enjoy high-end dining and an escape to Park District full of 8,000 acres of nature walks, benches, and beaches. Located in the heart of Chicago, this development redefines your typical senior living community by bringing in New Urbanism values and rethinking the concept of urban living.
As New Urbanism neighborhoods continue to pop up throughout the country and change the urban landscape, a diverse group of demographics will both demand and flock to these environmentally-conscious neighborhoods. Stay tuned as we continue to research the development trends surrounding senior living and New Urbanism!
“Parkview Living,”accessed August 25,2016.
“Amy Johnson is a Content Strategist for Criterion.B an agency focused on branding and inbound marketing for the commercial real estate and multifamily housing industry.”