At the recent No Place Like Home Conference in Anaheim, Calif., more than 230 leaders in urban development discussed the future of housing and made some predictions for the future of apartment living.
Joel Kotkin, author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, believes that “the suburb of the future may well resemble more of a self-sufficient village than a prototypical suburb of the 1950s.”
So what would a self-sufficient apartment village look like?
A suburb will “increasingly not be limited to being a ‘bedroom’ community since many will work at home or commute to employment in another suburb," Kotkin added. "Its population will be far more diverse, by age and ethnicity, than its historic predecessor.”
In a keynote address, urbanist Richard Florida said “we have to get over this nonsensical verbiage of cities or suburbs; it’s cities and suburbs”. He also reminded his audience that “what people prefer is all the same: a safe, secure, crime-free environment; lots of economic opportunity; openness to all people; and quality of place.”
This all points to future housing options being more inclusive, all-encompassing, compact and efficient. The new apartment village will be more self-sufficient and able to fit the needs of many types of apartment dwellers.
It takes a village to create a shared space that is self-sufficient and provides amenities that appeal to a wide range of people. Future apartment communities will need to think outside of the box and seriously consider what features appeal to a population that is working from home, expecting green buildings, looking for fuel-efficient transportation and connecting with friends in a multitude of ways.
A younger generation will be moving into these new apartment villages, so it may well be their preferences that will predict the shape of things to come.
Be prepared to see new suburban apartment villages offering amenities like these:
Parking options: Millenials are open to alternatives for transportation. While they won’t turn down a premium parking space, they also appreciate a spot to plug in an electric vehicle or easy access to Zipcars, for instance. Easily accessible bike racks and scooter parking to avoid driving so often will also be highly sought after.
Flexible unit plans: Gen Y is all about customization, looking for apartments that can be tweaked to suit their style. Movable kitchen islands and flexible wall arrangements are just a few features that will let renters make an apartment home their own.
Green living: Renters have come to expect green features as part of the base package. They value energy-efficient living and will make it a key part of their decision-making process, not just a nice extra. Build green and they will come!
Connected communities: Today’s world is all about connectivity, digitally and face-to-face. That’s why the new suburban city will require apartment communities to provide technology for top-of-the-line wireless connections and cellular reception. These shared spaces won't just be the clubhouse of years gone by. Look forward to coffee shops, retail, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues as part of the self-sufficient village.
Park space for people and pets: There's a trend to blend outside and inside life and provide plenty of access to the great outdoors. Whether it’s rooftop gardens, nature trails or dog parks, it's key to incorporate natural elements and wide open spaces.
The next generation of self-sufficient apartment villages will make a big impression on urbanists and economists, as well as the renters who enjoy these smart suburban communities. It’s hard to predict exactly what the new city suburb will look like, but it’s definitely a development to keep a close eye on.