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May 12, 2007

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A fascinating and fun piece in the WSJ by Ben Casselman titled Animal House Meets the Empty Nest describes the clash of culture occurring in downtown condos throughout the US. New condos developed and targeted towards young, urban singles (with video game lounges etc.) are actually attracting empty nesters. This has led to generational power struggles over pools and condo boards!

From the piece,

"Mr. Schaefer's Bristol Development Group is pitching the project, Velocity, to twenty- and thirtysomething professionals willing to trade space (as little as 535 square feet) for affordability (as low as $165,000) and a chance to live in a hot urban neighborhood. Developers across the country are appealing to young buyers -- many of them single, almost all without children -- with buildings that promise not just an affordable first home but also a great social life. The amenities tell the story: videogame lounges and outdoor fire pits, rooftop soaking tubs, on-site bars and poolside drinks.

But it's not so easy to control demographics in the open market. Some of the buildings are drawing unexpected buyers: people old enough to be the parents of the kids down the hall. And that's leading to territorial conflicts, social snubs -- even planned boardroom coups.

Such concerns are multiplying as the new buildings fill up with a mix of residents who range broadly in age. In Denver, about half of the units in the recently completed Glass House sold to empty-nesters, despite youth-oriented amenities such as a videogame lounge and a Web site that promises "cool bars" and "a fresh vibe." In New York, even a hot tub above the lobby and a provocative marketing campaign couldn't keep boomers away from William Beaver House, slated to open next year. And when Viridian opened last October in Nashville, most locals expected the high-rise to draw young buyers looking for a chance to live downtown. It did, but it also attracted people like Julie Lammel, a speech pathologist in her early 50s who moved there from a suburb where most of her neighbors were in her own age group."

Check out the entire piece, it has more fun stories.


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» Adjusting On The Fly from OODA
Richard Florida  comments on an article in the WSJ Online (subscription reqd) in which condo developers are finding that condos in urban areas targeted to young singles are attracting empty nesters in large numbers. Mr. Schaefers ... [Read More]

» Cities Get Grey Influx from PSFK
We've written before about a trend where older folk are retiring by moving into cities not out of them. Inspired by the facilities and entertainment close at hand, boomers are leaving suburbia for a city environment. A recent [Read More]



I'm just a little too old to be considered a baby boomer, but outdoor fire pits, rooftop soaking tubs, on-site bars and poolside drinks all sound good to me. I'm not into most video games, probably because I don't like violence.


Developers and city politicians who realize that many empty nesters and younger boomers would love to live in urban high-rises will do well for themselves.

With a small change in the amenities--lose the video room--this place sounds just right.

Salt Lake City, Asheville/NC, Chicago and Portland are already wooing us.

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