Master-Planned Communities

Give Us Music, Fresh Food, Wine, and Cornhole

May 1, 2018

Boomer masterplan developers still don’t understand us millennials. Their marketing tries to entice us with their version of cool: the flashiest new gadget, the most up to date home technology, or a community social connection. Our research (and my own personal experience) shows that we value organic, unplanned, authentic, and experience-based housing amenities the most. What should also interest the boomers is that these amenities are generally not expensive.

Here are four examples of masterplans that are doing it right. I will be presenting these findings at the ULI Spring Meeting in Detroit this week.

Source: Daybreak Communities

At Daybreak near Salt Lake City, the beautiful lake setting together with spur-of-the-moment food trucks and a summer concert series have captured the hearts of younger buyers. Daybreak was #20 on our list of top-selling master-planned communities of 2017, and a huge portion of those sales were to millennials. Daybreak set up a food truck roundup on a vacant lot on the far side of one of their largest amenities, Oquirrh Lake. The event grew in popularity, to 8 or more food trucks and over 1,500 people showing up each week, snowballing into a huge weekly experience. The masterplan also built a modest stage in the village center’s green space and invited local bands as a way to drive traffic to the center’s retail. Unexpectedly, the concert series outgrew the venue, regularly attracting over 1,000 people to the summer events. Both the food trucks and the concert series have become defining, iconic components of the masterplan and what residents and guests (including millennials) talk about. Both are organic, authentic, and experience-based.

Source: DesignLens

The Harvest Community north of Fort Worth and Dallas features all the typical masterplan amenities, but the biggest surprise for them was The Barn—the least expensive but one of the most popular amenities! The Barn is un-programmed and features picnic tables and outdoor games like Giant Jenga, chess, and Connect 4, and includes a half-court basketball court perfect for neighborly pickup games. Residents began using the space very organically and energized the area, even before furniture was installed. Every week Harvest hosts a farmers market where both residents and nonresidents gather, and all sorts of activities invigorate The Barn.

Our survey of 23,000+ new home shoppers showed that 65% of shoppers born in the 1990s want a farmers market in their community!

Harvest is effectively capturing younger buyers with this organic, unplanned, authentic, and experience-based amenity.

Source: Rise Communities (Cane Island)

The Conservatory at Cane Island near Houston is a great meeting spot for wine and cheese gatherings for their very popular wine club. Cane Island is looking to add another amenity that is wine themed, given the popularity of this club. They are even evaluating a vineyard. This would certainly attract younger buyers, as wine is very popular with millennials. Cane Island is listening to buyer preferences, adapting to their changing and emerging wants, and successfully capturing these buyers in their community. The free-flowing nature of this amenity and experience of it has an appeal to younger buyers. Let’s hope everyone is walking home or taking an Uber.

Source: Lakewood Ranch

Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota has incorporated cornhole, a beer garden, and sand volleyball courts into their new town center to cater to young professionals. The masterplan found out they are home to the largest cornhole club in Florida, which led them to include the feature in their town center. By listening to their consumers, Lakewood Ranch is better serving their residents by giving them a more organic, unplanned, authentic, and experience-based community. The community has experienced an increase in first-time buyers since 2016, which isn’t surprising given the neat amenities that are appealing to these buyers’ preferences. Lakewood Ranch is #3 on our list of top-selling master-planned communities of 2017.

The lesson here: millennials gravitate to the unexpected, especially if they are organic, unplanned, authentic, and experience-based amenities.

For help enhancing your developments and community amenities, please reach out to any of our consulting team members. We also just added our 100th masterplan analysis to DesignLens™, our online service that brings the latest and greatest new home design innovations to our members.

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