Q&A with KTGY’s Terry Willis: Leveraging Connections for Boomers

Connect Media

May 7, 2018

It is estimated that 10,000 people will turn 65 every day through 2030. This demographic shift points to the age-qualified space as the largest emerging market for new housing. To get a better idea of what’s going on with this sector, Connect Media sat down with KTGY Architecture + Planning’s Terry Willis to find out what the firm is seeing emerge in the active adult market-rate rental sector, especially the Boomer generation.

Q: How are millennials and the 55+ renter similar?

A: Like millennials, the 55+ renter not only wants to live near friends and family, but also close to shopping, dining, services and entertainment in a safe, walkable environment. Living near transit or in a transit-oriented development that offers convenient access to civic and cultural activities, employers, healthcare and volunteering opportunities is an important consideration for boomers as well. Like millennials, it is important for active adults to stay connected with their new friends and peers, which drives the design of interconnected common spaces and activity programming.

Q: What are some of the new designs that appeal to the 55+ renters?

A: We are also seeing mixed-use developments that can be more than a combination of residential stacked over retail. KTGY has designed 55+ apartment communities that are linked to transit, shopping centers, senior community centers and other amenities. For example, KTGY designed Avenida Lakewood, in Lakewood, CO, which is the centerpiece of the Oak Station Marketplace mixed-use development serving the newly-constructed light rail station, and is within easy walking distance to King Soopers Grocer and many other shops and restaurants. In Southern California, KTGY designed Azulon at Mesa Verde in Costa Mesa, a 55+ apartment community linked by a paseo to a retail center that has a grocery store, CVS/pharmacy, shopping and dining literally right out the apartment community’s back door. Walking is a favorite activity of baby boomers, and those communities that have walking trails that connect to recreational nodes are also very popular.

Q: There are traditional barriers that have existed between the age-qualified living community and the community at large. How can these be changed?

A: Integrating the age-qualified community and its residents with the greater community through the development of retail, cultural districts and inter­generational socialization opportunities will help break down those traditional barriers. Seniors are looking for opportunities to socialize and connect with the larger community. Successful developers are building walkable active adult communities with better access and connections – connection to the outdoors, to the neighborhood, and to the community at large. The walled community is gone, and has been replaced with the living wall of vegetation, with more pedestrian access points promoting a healthier alternative to reach areas outside the community.