In spring 2013, the leadership of two ULI product councils—the Senior Housing Council and the Community Development Council—came together on the idea of exploring an issue that was becoming increasingly important among their council members: intergenerational living.
Led by W. Aaron Conley, president and managing partner of Third Act Solutions (vice chair, Senior Housing Council), and Jeremy Sharpe, vice president of community development at Rancho Sahuarita Company (vice chair, membership, Community Development Council, Green Flight), they developed the idea of producing a discussion paper capturing the comments and ideas of ULI members on what’s next for intergenerational communities and multigenerational housing.
In partnership with ULI’s Terwilliger Center for Housing, the discussion paper, titled Residential Futures II: Thought-Provoking Ideas on What’s Next for Multigenerational Housing and Intergenerational Communities, will be released at the ULI Fall Meeting in New York City in October. The following are excerpts from the responses of ULI product council members that will be featured in the paper.
“In the recreational space, the same amenity type can be designed to be generationally inclusive or exclusive. A pool deck can be all adult, all kid, or designed to work for the whole family. A traditional golf course is not multiple-generation friendly, whereas a more flexible short course engenders family-friendly experiences. A community center can feel like the senior center, be a daycare center, or serve as a hub for multigenerational activity with activity-specific spaces. The key to successful design of multigenerational facilities is to provide spaces for different age-appropriate activities that are not fully segregated but defined by more subtle architectural transitions, using changes in section, furniture, or landscape design, connecting fenestration, and other mechanisms that allow for visual connectivity and a sense of inclusivity while still providing comfortable zones for differentiated activities.”
“I can’t imagine an intergenerational community working in the exurbs because these markets don’t appeal to millennials the way urban markets do.”
“While I believe that the most significant initial growth in units to accommodate these households will be in multifamily rentals, I also believe that there will be significant demand for multifamily homeownership units.”
“Older folks often choose to be with kids, but only when they want to. They need a place of refuge so that interaction is an option and not forced upon them.”
“I believe that growing evidence indicates that age-segregated communities are declining in attractiveness as baby boomers move into the active adult phase. They seem to want intergenerational communities with housing product or neighborhoods in the communities that speak to them. The issue is that many communities still want to have age-restricted models to limit school kids, which directly counters this market trend line. I think baby boomers do not want to be tied down with rules, and see themselves as young and wanting to remain younger by living in communities that are intergenerational.”
“We are not addressing this niche market at this time. We’re waiting to see if the trend is for real.”
“Our latest project is using the intergenerational concept heavily in the marketing message. The project is very intentionally designed for intergenerational living, and the marketing materials are designed to relay this message to all generations. Attracting younger families is key to drawing the baby boomers to the project, so we are marketing to both demographics.”
“I think intergenerationalism is the natural order of communities anyway, and I will be trying to incorporate it everywhere I build. The bigger issue is selling municipal governments on the idea that intergenerational is good and that the age-restricted world is going to be a longer-term burden for them than they anticipate.”