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.