LOS ANGELES, CA – According to Manny Gonzalez, FAIA, LEED AP and principal, with international, award-winning KTGY Architecture + Planning, National Multifamily Housing Council’s (NMHC) research shows that aging boomers will represent a larger share of growth in the apartment market as millennials begin to marry, have children and buy homes.
From affordable senior rentals to luxury living, the demand for age-qualified apartment homes is higher than ever. And with 10,000 people a day turning 65 through 2030 that demand will continue to grow. “Just like the millennials who fueled the recent surge in apartment construction, the 55+ renters are looking for many of the same things. They rank proximity to grocery stores, dining and entertainment at the top of their list,” Gonzalez said.
“Demographic studies and historical patterns also point to the 55+ cohort downsizing and choosing a more convenient lifestyle,” said Gonzalez.
Incorporating Universal Design into active adult apartments is critical for attracting new residents and for allowing existing residents to remain in their apartment as their lifestyle needs change, Gonzalez commented. “Incorporating Universal Design is key and the best Universal Design is invisible. You don’t know it’s there until you need it,” Gonzalez said.
One example, Gonzalez states, is Kohler’s grab bar that doubles as a wall shelf for shampoo or soap or as a towel rack. Other examples include a walk-in or curbless shower, no-step entry and outlets in the hallway at switch height so no one has to bend over to plug in the vacuum. “It is more than just placing a microwave at chair height,” Gonzalez said.
Some of the 55+ renters are looking for a second home near family, particularly when grandchildren are involved. “Boomers don’t want to sleep on the couch every time they visit their son or daughter, nor do they want to sell their home. An apartment offers a home away from home. And, should the child move at some point, they don’t have to worry about trying to sell that second home,” said Gonzalez.
A great design element inspired by millennials is to allow residents to customize the entry to their units, Gonzalez suggested. “If the design team doesn’t, this cohort will figure out a way to do it themselves. Incorporating a window box, photo frame or pot shelf can do the trick and help keep decorations from getting out of control, especially during the holidays,” said Gonzalez.
“After catering to millennials for some time, the industry needs to give these growing number of renters what they need as they easily could become more important than the much-prized millennials,” Gonzalez said.
A frequent speaker at the most prestigious national and regional industry events, Gonzalez will offer his expertise and insights at NMHC OPTech Conference and Exposition on November 16, 2016, in Dallas, Texas. He will be a featured panelist at NMHC OpTech’s general session, “The New Hip-sters: Planning Now for an Older Demographic,” along with panelists Helen Foster, principal, Foster Strategy, LLC; Tim Hermeling, executive vice president, marketing, Cortland Partners; and Cristina Sullivan, COO, Gables Residential.
Gonzalez has also been invited to speak at BizFed Institute’s NextUp Forum, “Housing Now – Turning NIMBY to YIMBY” on Friday, November 18, 2016, held at Woodbury University in Burbank, Calif. Gonzalez will be a featured panelist in the session, “NIMBY to YIMBY: Digging for Answers to Get Shovels in the Ground” and will discuss how cities and developers can convert opponents, NIMBY (Not In My Backyard), to proponents, YIMBY (Yes, In My Backyard).
Gonzalez is the managing principal for KTGY’s Los Angeles office. He is responsible for the design, land planning and production of residential and mixed-use developments throughout the U.S., including active adult and affordable multi-family communities as well as mixed-use residential, office and/or hotel/hospitality with retail.