The “Baby Boomers” are starting to hit a new era. With the population of Pennsylvania getting older, it’s thought by the year 2020 a quarter of the state’s population will be over 60. The Boomers have always been loud in their demands, so how will this affect real estate sales and the marketing approach of this fast coming of age segment? The developers are using the “old is now the new” reasoning to try to keep up with them.
One of the newer ideas is the concept of the “walkable community”. These communities are different from the typical communities that are around now. Developments now have everyone isolated in his or her own space and very little interaction with your neighbors.
The new theory is to make it easier to get around for the rapidly becoming senior citizens. By mixing retail stores, office buildings, and housing together it will make a closer-knit community. Senior citizens, who are usually on fixed incomes, will find it easier to walk to the places they need to be instead of having to drive.
This will save on vehicle maintenance and fuel costs, money that can be used elsewhere in this time of economic uncertainly. A more compact area could include doctor offices, full-service grocery stores, pharmacies, movie theaters, retail stores, and even parks. There could be banks, schools, restaurants, and even community centers.
The idea is to make it accessible and more like the days when sidewalks were a common occurrence and not something unusual. Safe walking areas and bike paths would be a must, as well as the benches spaced here and there. Well lit areas and crosswalks, visibly marked, would be another “have to have“.
McCandless Crossing, a 130-acre development off McKnight Road in Pittsburgh is in the making of just this type of community. It will include townhouses, office buildings, and retail stores. The tenants will be within walking distance of everything they need.
The city of Muncy in Lycoming County is also another place where this type of mixed zone development is in the works. Their goal is to achieve active, healthy living and integrating walking and bike riding in everyday life.
So it seems that the era of the “no sidewalk” might be coming to an end. Getting out and meeting your neighbors, being able to walk to where you want to go, and having safe access while doing it is now in the making. If this is something that you might be interested in, check out where there’s a walkable community near you. It might be the best thing you ever did!