Manny Gonzalez – Amazon Integration, Jimmy Buffett Escapism Trending in Active Adult Housing

Senior Housing News

June 20, 2018

More and more, active adult housing developers are embracing forward-thinking concepts in order to prepare for the incoming wave of baby boomer residents.

Two companies leading the way are Florida-based Minto Communities USA, which is behind the popular Latitude Margaritaville properties, and Miami-based homebuilder Lennar (NYSE: LEN), which last year announced home designs with integrated automation and voice control powered by Amazon’s Alexa.

And these are just two of the concepts shaking up the age-restricted senior housing product type sometimes referred to as “independent living light.” Active adult housing appears to be experiencing a boom, and well-established senior living developers and operators such as Capitol Seniors Housing and Clearwater Living are getting involved in this product type. The trends in this space point to the preferences and expectations of the aging boomer generation, but active adult will likely undergo many changes in terms of design and services offered over the next decade, according to architects.

Amazon implementation

Online retail giant (Nasdaq: AMZN) recently made a splash in the senior living industry by pitching Amazon Business as a useful purchasing solution at the 2018 Argentum Senior Living Executive Conference in San Diego. And some senior living providers see a great deal of promise in Amazon’s Alexa technology.

Meanwhile. Amazon is forging new relationships with major U.S. homebuilders, including with a division of Shea Homes that builds age-restricted communities in Northern California. Specifically, Shea is installing Amazon Dot speakers into the ceilings of rooms throughout some of its retirement homes, according to digital media site The Information.

Lennar, one of the largest homebuilders in the U.S., is undertaking a similar initiative. Last year, the company announced it was partnering with Amazon on “Wi-Fi certified” home designs that allow users to control their lights, front door locks and thermostat by talking to Amazon Alexa.

“The concept of Wi-Fi Certified Homes, and bringing them to life with Amazon, stretches across all Lennar Homes and products, including active adult,” Danielle Tocco, national vice president for communications at Lennar, told SHN in an email.

A small selection of Lennar model homes dubbed “Amazon Experience Centers” opened to the public in 15 cities across the U.S. earlier this year, and could drive similar trends among other active adult developers and builders in the months and years to come, according to Manny Gonzalez, principal at KTGY Architecture + Planning.

“Gradually, it will become part of the home, because people will get used to having Alexa, or whatever the new device is,” Gonzalez told SHN.

One challenge active adult builders and designers will have to overcome, however, is obsolescence. After all, while Amazon Alexa is the hot technology of today, it might not be tomorrow.

“There was a point in time when everybody thought it was really cool to put an iPod docking station connected to speakers in rooms,” Gonzalez said. “Now, if you see a docking station, you know that place is 10 years old.”

Privacy invasion and physical inactivity are two other possible concerns for potential residents of active adult communities with implemented voice-automated technology, according to David Dillard, principal at D2 Architecture.