New Urbanism for senior living appeals to Boomers

New Urbanism—a development model that integrates housing, retail, and amenity services—is not a new concept. But the integration of senior living communities within these new town centers is still rare.

That may not be the case for long. In their Environments for Aging conference session, Jane Rohde, principal, JSR Associates, Inc.; and Elizabeth Brawley, president, Design Concepts Unlimited, made a case for a lifestyle choice that appeals to aging Boomers: They cited findings that one-third to one-half of older adults are interested in the concept. Suburban, homogenous, gated senior communities may hold less appeal to this generation who often are characterized as open to more diverse living environments.

New Urbanism communities often feature:

· an identifiable center

· a short walk to a community center

· varying housing types, scales, and costs

· amenity spaces, shopping venues, and services

· green space and a playground

· interconnected streets (no dead ends)

· narrower, shaded streets

· buildings placed closed to the street front

· landmark buildings (e.g. a church) providing focal points and wayfinding.

In fact, posits Brawley, the progressive design principles espoused in New Urbanism should appeal to any age, “not just for seniors—who wants to be called out as a ‘senior’ anyway?”

For the New Urbanism concept to be viable, developers will need to focus on reform planning and zoning codes; multi-generational, mixed-income appeal; accessible dwelling units; redevelopment of commercial spaces into mixed uses; and an expanded transit system.

Topics: Design