I’ve always liked the Urban Land Institute for their insights into finance, real estate development, and land use trends. When Joe Gose wrote an article for their Urban Land Magazine about how interest has been waning in golf, and courses are being re-purposed, I was thrilled to find buried about half way down something that really sparked my interest:
A struggling 80-year old golf club purchased for $4.2M transformed into a 45 acre mixed-use development surrounded by an 84 acre county-owned park – including a 222 unit mix of Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care developed by a senior housing group.
Back in the ‘70s, Christopher Alexander argued in his timeless classic A Pattern Language for the concept of inclusion – elders given prestige, and integrated into multi-generational settings, rather than being segregated into homogenous settings away from the liveliness of youth:
“Old people need old people, but they also need the young, and young people need contact with the old.”
The master plan for redeveloping Meadowbrook Park in Prairie Village, Kansas is a shining example of this kind of thinking. VanTrust Real Estate, created a winning recipe for this $200M private development, incorporating:
- A high-end 282 unit apartment complex
- Single family homes
- A 54-room boutique hotel
- 5,000 s.f. of retail and restaurant space
- The senior living component
Rather than developing a typical senior silo, why not integrate it into a vibrant mixed-use community such as this one? I would imagine that those dining in the restaurants would reflect a wide age group, as would the shops and rest of the public realm. If done well, it would also fully embrace the Principles for Creating Places using Universal Design.
Kudos to VanTrust for having the vision and foresight to put a deal like this one together! My hunch is that we’ll be seeing more of these multi-generational models cropping up – they certainly are What Boomers Want. Vitality, choices, action, and engagement – a far cry from the rocking chair at Shady Acres!
Brad Smith is the founder of Brad Smith Associates, Inc., a mold-breaking exterior planning and design firm serving the aging services industry. Our approach puts people first, focusing on their unique needs while cultivating a deep sense of community. That is done by using a rational problem-solving method, infused with Imaginality™, combining the five key components of PLACE-Creation into our designs:
Planning - Applied foresight to achieve your project goals
Lifestyle - Delivering a better result for people by understanding their needs and lifestyles
Aesthetics - The aesthetics of a property speak to the "brand essence", greatly affecting marketing.
Community - a sense of meaning, identity and belonging for the people living there
Economics - informed decision-making on the front end during the design process can yield significant dividends on the back end (by reducing ongoing operations and maintenance costs).
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