It has long been recognized that the younger generations areopting for an urban lifestyle, a reversal of the "suburban flight"of the past. They want the exciting, convenient and amenity-richlifestyle of city living. They want to be able to walk torestaurants, bars, shopping and work as well as easy access topublic transportation.

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But what's interesting for developers is that we're seeing manyin the huge baby boom generation have the same lifestylepreferences. Their kids are growing up and abandoning the nest,giving them the freedom to pursue locations they wouldn't haveconsidered before.

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Many Boomers are ready to transition from suburban life to aneasier, lawn-free lifestyle. They want to remain active and desireeasy access to cultural facilities, theaters and restaurants. Inshort, they, too, like the convenience and vibrancy of an urbanenvironment.

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To fully capitalize on the shifting generational dynamics, inaddition to developing in urban locations, those in the multifamilyindustry can focus on bringing "city living" to suburban areas withmixed-use projects that create benefits traditionally associatedwith urban communities. This is because many Boomers are still inclose contact with their children and, increasingly, theirgrandchildren, and want to live where they can see themregularly.

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An ideal situation for many is a suburban project that is inclose proximity, preferably within walking distance, to shoppingand urban-style amenities. Mixed-use developments that sit adjacentto a grocery store and an appealing retail center will providethese consumers with the amenities they want.

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In addition to convenience, both demographic groups want moretechnology, more flexibility and more customization--all with fewerhassles and minimal maintenance.Built-in wireless technology, forinstance, is becoming almost mandatory. But beyond WiFi, developerswill increasingly need to examine new forms of cutting-edge andbuilt-in technologies, in addition to features that make the spaceunique, including customizable finishes and colors and flexiblefloor plans with innovations like moveable walls. Gen-Yers wantfeatures such as communal outdoor and indoor spaces that encouragemore interaction and community building. Both demographics arefocused on high-end appliance packages, well-designed spaces andcommon areas and maintenance-free landscaping.

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High-end amenities are another important feature for bothgenerations. Instead of standard gyms with a few treadmills andfree weights, these groups want a large variety of the latestequipment, as well as features like yoga rooms and massage rooms.These luxury amenities will be important components for developerswho want to attract both Boomers and Gen-Yers.

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When looking for new homes that feature the amenities they want,both generations turn to the web. The Internet has changed the waynearly every product is marketed, especially housing. According toa Pew Internet Life report from December 2005, more than 80% ofindividuals 30 and younger use the Internet, and for Baby Boomers,the figure isn't much lower, at about 70%. The numbers have onlyincreased since then.These web-savvy generations have increasinglycome to expect information and access 24/7, and nowhere are theseexpectations more true than in house-hunting.

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To connect with baby boomers and Gen Yers, developers areshifting their marketing dollars from traditional print advertisingto online marketing, including Internet listing services,pay-per-click and both static and interactive banner ads. Theseoptions are extremely appealing to today's marketers because theyare infinitely measurable.

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Many other "social media" options are proving worthwhile, suchas Craigslist and Facebook. Newly growing opportunities includestreaming videos that bring properties to life, either on propertywebsites or on video-based social networks like YouTube and GoogleVideo. These newer web technologies, termed Web 2.0, however,eliminate the competitive advantage management companies or largehome builders have in their marketing--anyone can do it, and theyare relatively inexpensive, if not free.

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The significant trends in product innovation and consumercommunication we are seeing today, and much of what we'll seetomorrow, will be driven by boomers and in particular the newlypowerful Gen Yers. Although they are distant in age, theseimportant demographic groups are not so far apart in what theydesire in living.

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Thomas S. Bozzuto is chief executive officer andchairman of the Bozzuto Group, based in Greenbelt, MD. The viewsexpressed in this article are the author's own.

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