IRVINE, CA - According to Manny Gonzalez, AIA, LEED AP and principal with award-winning national architecture and planning firm KTGY Group, Inc., the 50+ market is rapidly changing and there is no one size that fits all. "The traditional Del Webb model still proves to be successful as the popular retirement community The Villages in Florida has shown by being the nation’s top selling community of any type over the last several years. But there are alternative new models like Gavilán in Rancho Mission Viejo in southern Orange County, Calif., that are proving to be equally successful by integrating 'age qualified' communities into traditional master plans. The key to Gavilán’s success is not only allowing all residents, young and old, the use of community amenities like parks, trails, gardens and the community center, but also creating a separate country club-like community center complete with its own pool and fitness center exclusively for the seniors," said Gonzalez.
According to Reach Advisors, 75% of Boomers are keeping an active lifestyle to stay healthy and 40% say they are actually in better shape than they were in their 20s, reports Gonzalez. "Fitness centers today need to rival the Equinox and 24 Hour Fitness facilities and incorporate state-of-the-art features like 'Fitness On Demand.' They also need to be able to adapt to changing programs as demands shift. Pilates was nowhere near as popular 10 years ago as it is today, but if a 10-year-old fitness center hasn’t incorporated a dedicated Pilates space, it will be sending a message of being dated to any prospective resident," Gonzalez said.
"The next generation of active adult homes will incorporate new thinking in terms of special relationships. This homeowner is no longer doing laundry for 5, so locating the 'domestic suite' (an oversized laundry room with extra storage and perhaps even a desk or hobby space, near the master suite makes much more sense than having it off the kitchen. Passing your laundry from the master suite through a horizontal laundry chute to the domestic suite is much more convenient that lugging it thorough the great room and kitchen to do the wash," said Gonzalez.
According to John Burns Real Estate Advisors, Boomers are looking for a better home layout and 97% are putting a better kitchen at the top of their list. "A great kitchen will be a must in tomorrow’s new homes and an oversized 'entertaining island' should be at its center. Just look the next time you host guests for a party, more people will be hanging out in the kitchen than any other part of the home," said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez stated that the Island's seating bar should be an “L” or “U” shape, or even a half round to make socializing easier than the conventional straight bar top, where you have to look over your shoulder to chat. "If you are anything like me, you will want the kitchen to have a direct view of the big screen in the great room, so that you don’t miss any of the game action while preparing the snacks," Gonzalez added.
It is important to incorporate Universal Design principles to encourage comfortable aging in place. "Universal Design strives to support the lifestyle we wish to live through convenience and support in subtle ways," noted Gonzalez. "When it’s done right, you don’t notice it until you benefit from it. Incorporating zero threshold or even 'snail showers' into your floor plans may not be something that stands out as dramatically different from a typical shower, but today’s active adult homebuyer certainly will benefit from it."
A frequent speaker at the most prestigious national and regional industry events, Gonzalez will offer his expertise and insights at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders’ Show (IBS) held February 4-6, 2014, at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV. Gonzalez will be a featured participant at the Architectural Plan Review Workshop 1 on February 4, from 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., and moderate the session, "45 Big Ideas for Active Adult Communities," on Wednesday, February 5, from 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
A senior partner in KTGY's Santa Monica, Calif. office, Gonzalez 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. In his more than 25 years of practice in residential development, Gonzalez has won numerous awards for his outstanding designs. Gonzalez received his 9th Gold and 13th overall NAHB 50+ Housing Award, which was for Heritage Oaks. This project was also honored with the Special Innovation Award for its "Garage."
Celebrating more than 22 years, KTGY Group, Inc., Architecture + Planning, is a national award-winning firm providing comprehensive planning and award-winning architectural design services for residential communities, retail, hospitality, mixed-use and related specialty developments. KTGY delivers innovative solutions that reflect clear understanding of development, market and consumer trends, and financial performance. KTGY serves clients worldwide with offices in Irvine, Oakland and Santa Monica, Calif., Denver, Colo., and Tysons, Va.