Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Who Are You Going To Trust?

It is going to come down to "Who do you trust?"

While checking out my usual reading sources online, I found two headlines that are just miles apart yet both of these "trends" are coming from the west coast. On the one hand is a report from the San Jose area which claims that the nations' seniors will be relocating into more livable, walkable communities in the years ahead.
"We're going to find that there's more demand for urban and town-center housing" for seniors, said John McIlwain, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute. "The demand will outpace the supply, which means that will drive up value."

Changing economic times have more architects and developers rethinking designs for retirement housing. Out: isolated, gated senior living communities. In: cities and suburban town centers.

Many senior communities were built with land-grabbing amenities like golf courses, tennis courts and swimming pools, so they had to be built far from the city center. Residents drive miles to the grocery store, movie theater or hospital.

Today, developers and designers want to create more communities in areas where amenities, services and infrastructure already exist. "Walkability" is a key element in urban and town-center housing developments.
This is what I've been waiting to see happen for the past year or so. A community where one can grow up, get married and settle down, raise your own kids, then watch your grand-kids grow up. It can be done, it has been done for centuries, in places all over this globe. These are not the styles of development that we are seeing being built in Lexington today, though other are beginning to see the light.
In Lyndhurst, Ohio, designers want to convert a golf course into independent living housing and continuing care facilities that blend into the surrounding neighborhood. The community will feature townhouses, apartments and houses, next to a hotel and a short walk to shops, offices and a public plaza. A completion date has not been set.

Hodgson, the architect, said, "People want to go back to this kind of neighborhood setting because it's a comfortable community."
Then on the other hand, there are those who suggest that our aging, retiring baby boomers will be living in more rural or exurban type settings. An article from the Portland, Oregon area details the lifestyle of some retiring executive and the desire to get out into the countryside for some real living.
"Any direction out of here -- north, south, east, west -- is absolutely gorgeous mountain country with fabulous streams and lakes," Dick Fisk says. "It's close to everything, and we're not under the kids' feet."

They represent a migration that turns conventional wisdom on its head. Urban planners have until now proceeded on the assumption that retiring baby boomers will downsize to a high-rise and spend their days lapping lattes and taking the streetcar to the art museum.
This reality may, of course, exist for a sector of the baby boomer generation but I'm not sure that there are all that many upper management types who will follow the same or similar path, or for how long they will stay on that path. This may be a delayed mid-life crisis finally realized or a life's dream finally coming to life.
...new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says baby boomers will head to the country in big numbers, in the Northwest changing the face of rural Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
So, here we have two differing scenarios. They are moving to the cities and more livable, walkable communities. They are moving to the country for the fresh air and the amenities of the good life. We have the differing viewpoints of respected agencies, one a liberal think tank and the other a Federal Cabinet agency.

My first inclination is to go with the Urban Land Institute(ULI) and their assessment, because I believe that revamping or reinventing our suburbs is a necessary step to making our cities more livable. The ULI may have tendencies toward development companies but those corporations do supply jobs and employment. I would rather the FDA stick to quarantining the quality and wholesomeness of our food supply and not quantifying the lifestyles of anybody who want to live on the land. The FDA is controlled by the large agri-business corporations and not the general population. Monsanto and Cargill are not out for the benefit of the consumer or the farmer, so I am not convinced that their assessment of the population trends of America are on target.

You will have to read both articles, do some other research and ask yourself "Who do you trust?"

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