Monday, September 10, 2007

How Gen X Likes To Live

Alert reader Jim Rosenberg sent a link to this story in the NYT Magazine about marketing lifestyles to young condo buyers:

"Gen Xers desire connectivity,” Stouffer says. “In these buildings, you are so close to your neighbors you often know them. You also get to know people in the public spaces in the building like the gym or the courtyard. It makes it easy to get acquainted.”
The story confirms what my informal surveys of my UNCG students tell me: they prefer to live in close-knit neighborhoods that emphasize community over privacy and exclusivity.
“The younger generation wants to play where they work and work where they play and do both in and around the places they live,” says Wendy Mendes, vice president of RTKL, a design firm that has helped develop condo complexes in Los Angeles, Austin, Miami and Dallas. “They desire physical spaces that allow social connections.” For Mendes, the strategy is to move community amenities from the rooftops or basements, where they are often underused, to the ground floor near the entryway. “The front-door area, which used to be a static place, has now become active,” she says. “It has wireless access and sometimes a coffee bar. In one project in Austin, we have the pool, club room, a TV viewing area and a fireplace all at lobby level. If you come to check your mailbox, you are in the social center of the building.”
The only Greensboro condo project that is aimed straight at the Gen Xers is Murrow Station, and that has yet to get off the ground. The big condo projects we've seen so far -- Bellemeade Village (on indefinite hold), Center Pointe (in progress), and Arbor House -- are aimed at a wealthy, middle-aged demographic, using typical suburban lures like granite counters, garden tubs, and pretty sunsets as selling points. Sales have reportedly been slow.

The 'Boro is awash in college students, whose attitude toward the city has been radically changed for the better by the revived downtown social scene and well-planned events like Get Down!Town. Maybe somebody could make good money by building a place where these kids would like to live.

A note to the marketers: pretty much every potential buyer in such a place has a Facebook, Friendster, or Myspace page. You'll attract customers if you set up a Facebook group for your project. Residents will sell units for you just by being networked with their friends who are still in college.


Anonymous said...

I never could figure out why developers wont focus more on more affordable condos and especially apartments. I personally think there is a greater demand for more appartments downtown then condos considering the very large college population and singles that want to live downtown but cant afford to purchase a condo or townhome. Developers are missing a whole segment of population that wants to live downtown. We are headed some what in the right direction with projects such as City View Apartments. But more of this kind of development is needed. Besides if all these young people lived downtown, they could just walk home after a heavy night of drinking :)

Anonymous said...

Ummmm....Gen X? Some gen X'ers are middle age, not college age. Gen X'ers were born between 1965 -1976, which makes the youngest 31 and the oldest 42. Not old, but not exactly kids and not in college unless returning adults. I wonder if this article meant to talk about Generation Y and not X.

To be honest, I'd love granite counters, garden tubs and pretty sunsets, and I'm at the older end of Gen X! Good lord, I'm pushin' 40!

David Wharton said...

Glad you mentioned Cityview -- I left that out. I think Milton Kern gets the urban thing, but I wonder if the spaces in that complex do the things that are mentioned in the article to increase networking.

Kim, I just don't get the appeal of granite counters or garden tubs. I read somewhere that those tubs are almost never used, and granite is a very unforgiving surface in kitchens.

I really like my frameless shower and my Formica counters.

Anonymous said...

Our counters are actually Corian, which we love, but I do like the looks of granite as well. As for the garden tub, we do have one and I love it. Light some candles, put on nice music, and enjoy a glass of wine while relaxing in the tub. I actually use the tub fairly often. :-)

Anonymous said...

We used to have granite counter tops and now have Corian. I miss, miss, miss the granite. I loved kneading bread on it, the touch, the feel. Formica, yuck!

We use our garden tub to place a large, wooded clothes drying rack. I can count on one hand the # of times I have been in it.

I would live downtown if you paid me, we live right by Lk Brandt and its wonderful trails. Can run any given morning and see wildlife and be alone in my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

The line between Gen X and Gen Y isn't real clear. There was no clear birth rate change and now there are people that use a cut off anywhere from Jan '77 to Jan '82. I was born on Jan '77 and am certainly not part of the new generation. I think they are describing more Gen Y or The Millennials.

It would also be very difficult for me to care any less than I already do about knowing my neighbors. It is one of the reasons I bought a house.

Vada Bostian said...

I never know if I'm a gen x or a gen y, with my birthday falling in 1978. I think I have lots in common with both.

I would like a home that is close to lots of stuff, walking distance. But still has a little space for my daughter to play outside. I like knowing my neighbors, but not too well. I want something affordable, and certainly cannot ever envision being able to afford a $300K condo. Low 100s is more like it. :)

Anonymous said...

developers will sure have better luck with apartments as oppose to trying to sell expensive condo and townhome units which apparently is selling really slow. The apartments that have been planned for downtown, people have been snapping up these apartments quickly, especially apartment with $600 to $700 rent per month. Developers still dont get the clue where the residential market is in downtown Greensboro. More apartments !! People think that what the "mystery developer" is proposing for downtown is crazy and and too ambisous, yet his project has far more apartments than condos in his plan. people say his plan is crazy, I say he is right on target!

Lenslinger said...

I do some of my best thinking in my garden tub.