What’s the Future for Planned Communities?

February 5, 2013
Master planned communities

Seems like a simple question, but the answer may not be so clear. A discussion panel of ULI industry experts provided personal insight on the future:

Lewis Goodkin – Second home communities are finding their residents are no longer supporting the club structure. Baby boomers want “insulation” not “isolation,” and they are becoming more about necessity than ever before.

Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk – There are three primary obstacles to long-term development:

1) Getting people comfortable with change.

2) Affordability as tax credits may not continue and costs are rising.

3) Transit is a necessity and new roads are not being planned. The roads must come first.

Charles Cobb – Many places still have a need for new housing communities with lifestyle elements as part of the design. Low-cost, healthy lifestyle options including trails for walking, jogging and outdoor activities remain important.Internationally, there is a significant need for the master-planned model developed in the United States in the 1970s.

Andrés Duany – Vertical development is no longer an affordable option. High cost prohibits a young population from energizing key city centers. Youth returns to an area when failed projects become rentals that are below market value. Today, the cost of construction is very high, and young people are pessimistic about the future.

The experts agree it’s time to listen to the consumer, but caution that just because they say they want something doesn’t mean they are willing to pay for it. Today, salaries have retracted to levels of the 1980s, but the cost of construction continues to increase. The resulting trend may see architecture being sacrificed for affordability. Demographics of the communities of the future will see much more cultural diversity.