Manny Gonzalez – Your Next Target Renter For Apts.

November 1, 2016

IRVINE, CA—Research shows that aging Baby Boomers will represent a larger share of growth in the apartment market as Millennials begin to marry, have children and buy homes, Manny Gonzalez, managing principal for KTGY Architecture + Planning’s Los Angeles office, tells With RealShare Apartments held recently and the apartment market still booming, we spoke exclusively with Gonzalez about the sector and why we should be looking at Baby Boomers as the next significant group of apartment renters.

From affordable senior rentals to luxury living, the demand for age-qualified apartment homes is higher than ever, Gonzalez tells us. 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-plus renters are looking for many of the same things. They rank proximity to grocery stores, dining and entertainment at the top of their list.” He adds that demographic studies and historical patterns also point to the 55-plus cohort downsizing and choosing a more convenient lifestyle.

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 says. “Incorporating universal design is key, and the best universal design is invisible. You don’t know it’s there until you need it.”

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.”

Some of the 55-plus renters are looking for a second home near family, particularly when grandchildren are involved, he points out. “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.”

A great design element inspired by Millennials is to allow residents to customize the entry to their units, Gonzalez suggests. “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.”

After catering to Millennials for some time, the industry needs to give these growing number of renters what they need since they easily could become more important than the much-prized Millennials, Gonzalez says. “One of the most popular events in ‘active’ adult communities is happy hour. It’s a little different from the happy hours that we know, because it starts at 4 p.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m., but it’s a huge social event that really brings residents together,”

Also, there is a lot of talk about “farm to table” these days, and it’s certainly something that can be incorporated into 55-plus apartment communities, Gonzalez points out. “While ‘victory gardens’ don’t work in most general-occupancy communities, I find that the 55-plus renter not only enjoys gardening, but takes pride in it. In fact, one of the communities I designed 20 years ago still has a rose-growing contest every year, and it gets pretty competitive!”