Senior housing and New Urbanism

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Two of the fastest growing segments of the housing market are New Urbanism and senior housing. Judging by the inquires we get at CNU headquarters, many people are curious about how these two segments are intersecting. Although we've found a few examples of New Urbanist senior housing, New Urbanism's commitment to giving people many choices in housing type, price, and style means that many active seniors find non-targeted New Urbanist developments to fit their lifestyle well. In fact, CNU published a white paper, The Coming Demand, which details how seniors (particularly Baby Boomers) will help to lead the market shift towards New Urbanism in the future.

Senior housing refers to a variety of different options, from active adult and independent living residences similar to conventional single-family or multifamily housing to continuing care facilities that offer residents a full range of medical services on site. Warwick Grove, in New York's Hudson Valley, is an example of an active adult community, with age restrictions but otherwise nearly indistinguishable from a Traditional Neighborhood Development designed for families with children. The Glen, a large infill development near Chicago, includes three senior housing options, including mixed-income and continuing care communities. Senior housing built on urban infill sites, like The Mather in downtown Evanston, Ill., offer their residents convenient locations within walking distance to services and transportation options.

Share your examples of New Urbanist senior housing in the comments.

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AARP is really picking up on this trend

AARP publications have run a number of pieces on the growing numbers of today's retirees seeking to live in the kinds of mixed-use, walkable communities where new urbanists are active.

Here's an excerpt from a good piece by Ben Brown in the July-August 2004 AARP bulletin:

Current house-hunters in their 60s and older are previewing the expanding menu, beginning with a broadening concept of "retirement community."

The phrase used to imply a distant place for leaving old lives behind. But only about 4.5 percent of retirees—a stable number in the last four U.S. censuses—move across state lines, says Charles Longino Jr., a gerontology professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and an expert in retiree migration. Recognizing that, developers are offering more choices closer to where people raised their families and built their careers. [See The Good Life in the Big City from our June 2004 issue.]

Boomers like to think of themselves as being open to everyone and everything, so age-segregated communities, cut off from the ebb and flow of Main Street life, are likely to feel too homogenous and too disconnected from the world at large for their tastes. In his new River Oaks community in Paso Robles, Calif., developer Dick Willhoit is assigning 40 percent of the 481 planned homes to Traditions, an age-restricted community within the larger community.

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