Baby boomers and millennials in suburban markets desire the same lifestyle—walkability, access to retail and restaurant amenities and dense housing—as those living in urban markets. The urbanization of the suburbs is a growing trend, with urban amenities and development showing up in traditionally suburban markets.

“Demographic shifts illustrated that we are becoming a society that values main streets more than backyards,” Jose Sanchez, retail and mixed-use design leader at DLR Group, tells “Walkability, density, sense of community, mixed uses and a diverse population are bringing new life to suburbs. Placemaking, if applied thoughtfully and well executed, provides the soul for our communities through the design of a contextual urban framework of pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, open spaces and a vibrant urban environment created by the layered realm of architecture, landscaping, signage and lighting. It is also vital to understand that these new town centers should be developed in a way to attract multiple demographics and economic classes through inclusive design and programming.”

Baby boomers are catalyzing this trend. Once a proponents of single-family housing, baby boomers now want smaller more manageable living spaces, walkability and access to entertainment. “Baby Boomers spurred by a pent-up demand for achieving the American Dream initiated the exodus away from pre-war industrial hubs to suburban enclaves,” explains Sanchez. “The fast demand for affordable housing at the outskirts of American cities produced a housing boom of suburban single-family planned communities that became seas of similar looking homes lacking town centers or city amenities. Instead of developing around urban centers, these communities connected via commercial streets interspersed with strip malls, enclosed malls and businesses. At that time, the Baby Boomer population was 35-65 years of age and the largest group. The suburbs provided a safe environment suitable for raising children, however, as this population ages, they have looked to downsize since they no longer need the multiple bedrooms or large backyards and want to use their free time to engage with their community. Town center developments with condominiums and variety of amenities with a true sense of community are far more attractive than maintaining their oversized homes.”

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.

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