4 Successful Amenity Trends

Podcast
In episode 7 of our podcast, Dean Wehrli interviews Consulting Principal, Ken Perlman, about the most successful amenity trends he is seeing around the country. 

Featured guest

Ken Perlman, Managing Principal, John Burns Research and Consulting

Ken has more than 20 years of experience in the real estate industry. He has directed analyses of residential and commercial projects throughout the US, including master-planned communities, active adult housing, high-rise development, urban projects, and commercial and retail developments.

Prior to joining John Burns Real Estate Consulting in 2010, Ken was Vice President with a San Diego market research team and a Senior Analyst with a national housing market analysis firm. He began his career as a residential land broker with Grubb & Ellis.

Ken holds a B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning from the University of California, San Diego and an M.B.A. from the University of San Diego, and is based in our San Diego office.

Transcript

Dean Wehrli:

Welcome to another edition of New Home Insights with John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Today, I have a special, special treat. Ken Perlman, a principle from John Burns Real Estate Consulting based in San Diego, but kind of the resident globetrotter. He’s all over the country. Ken, go ahead and say hi.

Ken Perlman:

Well thank you very much. Introduced as a special treat, I like that.

Dean Wehrli:

Well, you’ve been doing this a long time. I think three years or more you’ve been looking around the country. I don’t want to age you.

Ken Perlman:

Couple more than three years.

Dean Wehrli:

I know you kind of scented about your age, so I didn’t want to.

Ken Perlman:

Thank you for that. I appreciate it.

Dean Wehrli:

You do, I will say that you sound very handsome. We’ve actually never met. You sound very good looking. I’m kidding. I’ve known Ken for…

Ken Perlman:

High compliment coming from you.

Dean Wehrli:

20 something years. Last week we looked at master plan amenities from the perspective of consumer, consumer surveys. Today we’re going to talk about Ken, talk with Ken about master plan amenities from kind of on the ground. Like I said, he’s seen master plans literally all over the country, hundreds of them. Today he’s going to have some great examples of what works, maybe what doesn’t and why it works with respect to some really hardcore, here’s what’s working where and why. Why don’t we start with the big picture. Let’s just start right away with what’s the key stuff? What are the must haves in master plans in terms of amenities from around the country?

Ken Perlman:

Okay, thanks. Yeah. I was thinking about that. And I know it sounds a little bit abstract, but I think the must haves are the things that make people’s lives easier and give them choice. You think about everything that we do on demand and really people wanting it when they want it. And so they want to be connected in social when they want to be and they want to be disconnected and quiet when they want to be. They want to work out when they want to, eat when they want, work when they want and what people want and how they live their lives is changing all the time. I really think that amenities need to be about flexibility and allowing homeowners choice. And I think that as we kind of look at amenities from a practical perspective, the ones that we’re seeing as the best are really doing that.

Ken Perlman:

Now, that said, I think that the amenities that we’re seeing today follow a theme. Health, and that includes physical health and mental health and food and social interaction. And these are the types of things that can be relatively easy to create. Think about something like walking trails or biking trails, and I think Steve Burch told you in the previous podcast that about 68% of buyers kind of want a variety of trails inside the community and that is certainly true in what we’re seeing. I really love what the guys at Avid Trails are doing. They’re really specializing in designing trails for master plan communities. They’re rated on things like terrain and obstacles. You can download maps onto your phone and get information about the trails that they do. They have bootcamps along the way. Just really cool from that perspective.

Dean Wehrli:

Is the variety of those trails a key thing? I think I mentioned that we’ve seen sometimes some master plans where they’re looking at sort of three types of trails in the same master plan. Is that critical to that?

Ken Perlman:

Absolutely, and they’re really good about designing those trails to go with the terrain. They rate each of the trails. What’s harder, what’s easier, they can be for biking, they can be for hiking. You can stop along the way.

Dean Wehrli:

Black diamonds?

Ken Perlman:

All about, I’m sorry?

Dean Wehrli:

Do they have black diamonds and green circle kind of ratings.

Ken Perlman:

Yep, that’s exactly.

Dean Wehrli:

Do they really? Okay.

Ken Perlman:

Exactly right, yeah.

Dean Wehrli:

Nice.

Ken Perlman:

No, you’re a black diamond kind of guy.

Dean Wehrli:

Black diamond guy. I want to see a black diamond trail. Are you falling downhill? Is it dangerous?

Ken Perlman:

I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s officially a black diamond.

Dean Wehrli:

If not, they need to.

Ken Perlman:

And I think along those same themes, health and healthy living and healthy eating. We see a lot of community gardens. I really like the gardens at Daybreak in Salt Lake City. They’ve got these cool garden plots for residents. There’s hundreds of them throughout the community. Hillwood out of Dallas is doing Harvest and you can literally go to their website and you can see this emphasis on gardening in their slogan. I think literally their slogan is, a perfect community to put down roots. And residents can reserve their own plots. And then Willowsford who has been outside of Virginia or in Virginia, they’ve been really one of the leaders in this concept. They have what’s called the Willowsford Conservancy and farm. And there’s these cool learning programs, programs about growing food and healthy eating. They have a community supported kind of agriculture program, which is sort of a farming co-op.

Ken Perlman:

And then what they also have that’s super cool is they have this, what’s called the Willowsford Kitchen with all sorts of culinary programs. And they have this in house chef that brings together the farm and healthy eating. And so there’s lots of these concepts all over the country. And then obviously, kind of leading into food, there’s the Willowsford Kitchen, but it can even be more simple than that. There’s the Mueller master plan in Austin or Miller, it’s pronounced differently depending upon who you are. And they have these food truck vendors who come in. Really eclectic. Daybreak did the same thing. They have this food truck roundup around their large lake and it’s kind of this weekly event where different food trucks come in and out and people can try different eateries. The food types change and it’s really about kind of trying new things and experiences and that’s what’s kind of setting those master plans apart.

Dean Wehrli:

I’m not hearing microbrew and that’s making me kind of sad. Are we going to see that anywhere in a master plan?

Ken Perlman:

Actually it is. Microbrew’s a big deal. And so obviously anything that deals with food and drinking and socialization, there’s a community that I’m actually going to mention later on in the podcast that actually has a cool microbrewery that’s built out onto an activated street.

Dean Wehrli:

Now you’ve sold me.

Ken Perlman:

Wine, food, it’s certainly an important part of that experience.

Dean Wehrli:

That’s cool. You mentioned that, these things, are you seeing these things all over the country? Let’s talk about some of the differences you’ve seen, whether it’s regional for different buyers. How are master plans altering or changing, are targeting their buyers differently across the country?

Ken Perlman:

Yeah, yeah. There’s a little bit of variation across the country. I think, look, if I’m going to build a master plan in Houston or Dallas, I’m going to want to have a pool and a clubhouse and a splash pad for the kids. That’s kind of a given. And I really love, there’s a master plan just West of Austin called Rough Hollow that I really love. Has a great splash pad for kids. It has a fun little lazy river with a little snack shack right there. They have, you and I talked about this once before, they have a margarita machine right there. You can kind of get a margarita and hang out by the lazy river and they host summer camps for the kids in and around kind of the pool and the splash pad. Newland built a very cool kind of beach club at Cinco ranch in Houston.

Ken Perlman:

I think that’s what you would see there. Now if I’m in Seattle, I don’t necessarily need a pool. That’s a different amenity. The emphasis is really on going back to that outdoor space, parks. I think about Tehaleh, which is kind of the quintessential master plan that Newland Communities is building south of Seattle. And they have this really cool series of themed parks there. For example, they have this what’s called the Forest Park with walking trails. And this literally like a living room, you can hang out in the forest. They have Hound Hollow, which is a dog park. They have Yonder, which is sort of this observational zen park. They’ve got these kind of eclectic different parks and I think that’s a different element there.

Dean Wehrli:

Is that responding to that Seattle ethic, that ethos, that means super outdoor kind of oriented folks? I see that in Boulder or Denver or something like that too. Is that what they’re designing for?

Ken Perlman:

Yeah, there is. There is more of that out there, but again, in those communities too you’re going to have, you’ll tend to have pools and clubhouses in those communities as well. I think it’s dependent upon where you are in the country. I think the concept of social interaction, of health, of food, of learning is universal. I think there are some programmed amenities like pools that are, tend to be a little bit more regional. Obviously, in warmer weather climates and parts of the country that are certainly much more of a necessity. We were talking about Tehaleh, Dean, I was going to get to tell you one thing that is just really cool about Tehaleh, in addition to the parks is they have what’s called the Post and it’s probably one of my favorite kind of info centers anywhere that I’ve seen in the country.

Ken Perlman:

And it’s really, it’s an information center for people to go get information about the community. But it’s really a gathering area. It’s a coffee shop and a sitting area and families can come and listen to a story time being read. You can sit out on a porch and look at Mount Rainier and have these great views of Mount Rainier. And by the way, you can get some information about the community too. You can get community maps and information about the builders and all things, but the emphasis is on helping you kind of understand and live the experience of the master plan. And when you walk in it’s very calming. It’s very like, hey I’m part of the community. I’m seeing what the ethos to use your term, is all about. But I’m still getting information about the mastermind and it’s just, I wanted to bring that up just because I thought it was cool.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah, no that’s interesting. Really in that case they made their information center serve kind of double duty because it’s also a place for social interaction.

Ken Perlman:

Absolutely. And again, that is consistent with the theme of kind of master planned amenities and kind of what we’ve talked about. Some of the amenities are different among buyer groups too.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah. Basically they’re tailoring. It sounds like they start, you start with this basic palette that has those universal concepts, like things that serve as social interaction or health and food, but then you sort of tailor to where your geography. In this case, your buyer segment. What kind of differences I guess, have you seen when they’re tailoring to different buyer groups?

Ken Perlman:

No, I think that’s exactly right. And I think you’ve expressed it in a really good way.

Dean Wehrli:

In a handsome way, would you say?

Dean Wehrli:

In a handsome way. It’s almost like you should be doing a podcast.

Ken Perlman:

Thank you. I’m not fishing for a compliment. Yeah, you’re right. I have a face for TV. I think you’re probably right. My bad.

Ken Perlman:

You do. I have a face for radio I’ve been told. Anyway.

Ken Perlman:

But I think that the basic constructs of amenities among different buyer profiles is similar. I think you’re right, it fits that palette. I think what’s included, particularly the expense amenities, I think does vary by buyer profile, by buyer groups. Definitely, social interaction. And I think of what’s true of all ages. master plan is generally true of say active adult communities. But honestly I think what’s interesting now is I think that location are the big amenity now for active adult communities. John in his book, Big Shifts Ahead, talks about the innovators and the equallers as kind of these new active adults. They’re retirees that value proximity to their kids and their friends and their social club.

Ken Perlman:

And we’re seeing so much more of that and active adult elements that are kind of part of a larger MPCs. You look at Victory at Verrado, which is a subset of the larger Verrado master plan. You look at Reagent, so you Summerland by Toll Brothers, that’s a subset of the larger Summerland master plan. And I think that’s important. People want to be close to their kids. They want to be close to their grandkids for all of the reasons that we’ve talked about.

Dean Wehrli:

I was going to say, that’s critical. I’ve noticed that too, that part about being sort of a sub community, an active adult or age qualified sub community within that larger community, they have, they can be close to their kids and grandkids, or just families in general, but they have, they’re in their own little enclave and they can have their own dedicated amenities. You can go workout with people like you and socially and active people like you, but you’re part of something much bigger than that. That’s perfect.

Ken Perlman:

And that’s important. They don’t want to be kind of relegated to the outskirts of a community. You’re talking about kind of what works and what doesn’t work. They don’t want to be relegated to the outskirts of a community. They are people that have lived in these communities for a long time. They have their friends, they have their clubs, they have their religious organizations, and they have their families and they want to be close to all of those things. I think that that is a really big trend. And I don’t know if it falls under the auspices of of amenity per se, but I think it’s a really important distinction to draw when we’re looking at what’s the new kind of active adult community.

Dean Wehrli:

I think so. And it does kind of impact the amenities as well because if we’ve seen the end of the 4,000, 5,000, 7,000 unit active adult massive master plan, and maybe we haven’t. Certainly in Florida they still have that. But if we’ve seen that’s going to happen much less in the future, that’s certainly going to impact what kind of amenities are being offered. You scale it back and you scale it differently.

Ken Perlman:

Yep. And you’re right and they’re a little bit smaller scale. I think they’re still really very much about socialization. I mentioned Victory Verrado I think one of the things that’s really cool about Victory at Verrado is the first thing you see.

Dean Wehrli:

In Phoenix. That’s a Phoenix master plan?

Ken Perlman:

In Phoenix. Yes. Thank you for clarifying that. Just outside of Phoenix. But when you roll up to Victory Verrado, the first thing that you see even before you enter the kind of information center is what’s called the Big Patio. And it’s just this very of great place to sit, hang out, look at the views of the mountains and the golf course. They’ve got a big demonstration kitchen out there where you can cook, they do cooking classes, that kind of a thing. And that’s just really a warm and inviting element there.

Ken Perlman:

CalAtlantic, which is now Lenore, did a really cool clubhouse at a community called Auberge in San Diego and it’s a big community center. It’s a 10,000 square foot community center. But what’s interesting about it is it’s this very large center, but what’s creative about it is it’s got all these really cool little niches to hang out in, to meet with friends, to have a drink. And so you have all of these big amenities, you have a great pool, great workout center, the whole thing. But it all goes back to that theme of I want to be with my small group when I want it to be. I want to meet my spouse when I want it to be. I want to be with a big group when I want it to be. And so it’s that flexibility element. It’s that kind of on demand lifestyle.

Dean Wehrli:

That’s interesting. It’s not the big spaces within that clubhouse, let’s say, but a variety of little spaces that are doing different things for different people in different smaller groups.

Ken Perlman:

Exactly, exactly. And it’s just a great place to be. And then, I think when you talk about active adults and amenities, and I think this goes beyond just active adults, but pets. Pets are huge. Huge amenity. They’re big for all ages, but particularly among those 55 plus. And I think in our last consumer survey, the 1950s innovators, I think rated a dog park is the number one amenity that they were looking at for in the community. And just people treat their pets like royalty. I’m not sure my parents ever treated me as royalty. I shouldn’t say that, right?

Dean Wehrli:

Worked that out with your therapist, Ken. That’s not for this podcast.

Ken Perlman:

It’s not specifically an active adult amenity, but there are just some super cool pet amenities that I love and I think it’s really important to the active adult buyer, but Cane Island in out in Katy, Texas, outside of Houston. They have a dog ambassador who’s this golden retriever who comes to greet residents and everybody who comes to the community, his name is Hub, super friendly. The Hallsley master plan in Virginia has a great dog park with some cool trails that I really like. And even little things like dog walking and dog watering stations. They have the South Paw dog park in Rancho Mission Viejo and have watering stations for dogs and those types of things. I think that’s important to not only that active adult buyer profile, but to all buyer profiles.

Ken Perlman:

And there are some things that are important, I think to the younger buyer profiles as well. And there’s some nuances associated with that. Kate Seabaugh from our group just wrote a cool article about this and she said boomer master plan developers still don’t understand us millennials. And from our experience, the younger buyers, those connectors and the sharers tell us that they don’t need necessarily flash or gadgetry, they want a lot of things that the other buyers want, organic, unplanned, experience based, but they want it affordably. They want, and that’s great for developers because it doesn’t cost them a lot.

Dean Wehrli:

Are you saying to go so far as to say that they’re not looking for sort of cutting edge technological amenities? They’re still looking for that, aren’t they?

Ken Perlman:

They still want to be wired. They still want to be technological. They still want things like, they love things like fitness on demand. I can go into the gym and workout whenever I want. They still want to be connect. They want community internet and those types of things. They want big social media presences, but what I’m getting at and what we’re hearing from them resoundingly is those things are not what resonate with them most. What really resonates with them most are kind of those same elements that we talked about, like the food truck rallies at Daybreak. And they have these annual festivals, they have this thing called the Fizz Fest, which is pedal go-karts with music and food trucks. Lakewood Ranch out in Sarasota, Florida they have an area where they’ve incorporated cornhole, a beer garden and a sand volleyball court into kind of this new town center. And they actually have apparently reported, self-reported, not confirmed, but they actually have the largest cornhole club in the state of Florida. But I have not verified.

Dean Wehrli:

Wow, that’s impressive. That’s very impressive. Now, not to make you uncomfortable, but let’s talk briefly and if you get any hate mail or death threats.

Ken Perlman:

That’s just too bad for them.

Dean Wehrli:

Please do. But what have you seen out there that was kind of a dud amenity wise? Kind of maybe a waste of money? Maybe some folks to stay away from.

Ken Perlman:

Yeah, I think that there’s, I’m not going to call out any specific community, but I think more along the lines of themes, communities are clearly moving away from golf courses.

Dean Wehrli:

Preaching to the choir.

Ken Perlman:

In our community survey. You’re not a big golfer?

Dean Wehrli:

Nope. Hate it.

Ken Perlman:

The 1950s, those innovators, the portion of those really choosing golfing and golf trails really fell. They’re large, they’re expensive to maintain. They use a lot of water. Really that’s something. Pickleball. Pickleball’s one of those things that kind of had a little bit of popularity. That’s starting to fall off a little bit. Now, if you’ve ever watched pickleball, you can actually have pretty fun pickleball tournaments. Usually involves a drink or two. But buyers today, really particularly those younger buyers who are healthier and a little bit more active, not quite ready to embrace pickleball. Those are the things that kind of stick out.

Dean Wehrli:

That’s interesting.

Ken Perlman:

Anything, yeah.

Dean Wehrli:

Well, it’s interesting because you still hear, I think you still talk to some sales agents around, at least in my region, and you’ll still hear that pickleball is pretty important, but you’re right, I’ve seen the consumer and it seems like a pickleball has kind of started to wane.

Ken Perlman:

Quite a bit. It’s a fun phenomenon. Never say never to anything. But there’s certainly that buyer segment that will want it. But I think as you’re looking at top flight amenities, pickleball is probably not one of the ones that you need to pick out first. That said, it’s a relatively inexpensive amenity to create and to maintain. From that perspective, as a developer, not too big. It’s really anything that is, it’s really the opposite of what we talked about. Anything that’s just big, contrived and over programmed. As we say, you can’t force people to do, what to do and when they want to do it. Clubhouses don’t have to be massive. People want intimacy. They want to be able to socialize when they want to.

Dean Wehrli:

Okay. Just being more on demand, more about convenience, not so much about the big classics. And again, as I mentioned is think is clear to most people, golf as you know, was invented by Satan. It’s about time that we got that one out of there. Just a thought. Any hate on that.

Ken Perlman:

I do know some people who are big golfers who might take exception to that.

Dean Wehrli:

Tiger, you know where I live. That’s all I’m saying. Come at me bro. More generally though, let’s talk about the why. What are the key reasons these amenities that are working are working?

Ken Perlman:

Yeah, it’s really about, you think about why you live where you live. Why you choose a house, why you choose a master planned community. And it’s really about kind of social interaction. It’s really about people coming together. And that in and of itself creates the amenity. That’s really what people want most out of their homes. We’ve talked about things like, we talked about the community gardens and the farms. There’s a lot of kind of social events in some of these communities. Newland Communities does a lot of this. They did this very cool thing. This isn’t quite a community amenity, but they did a very cool deal up Tehaleh that I had mentioned before where they had a grand opening event and it was called the Great Race. And basically what they did was, this was a really a large scavenger hunt through the community and between six residents and ultimately the winner won a home.

Ken Perlman:

But there’s simple things. I love what, we talked about the Verrado by DMV in Phoenix. They have this concept of they have a big tree there called the giving tree, and they have a philanthropic organization that centers around the giving tree. And it hosts charity events, like the American Cancer Society and toy drives for kids and those types of things. It’s really about that social interaction and some of the amenities, they don’t, they’re not programmed, you don’t have to have everything programmed. And this goes back to what we talked about, the millennials, the barn at Harvest by Hillwood in Dallas. It’s one of the least expensive amenities that the developer created. It’s unprogrammed. It has picnic tables, outdoor games has giant Jenga. I know you’re a big giant Jenga fan.

Dean Wehrli:

I am. I am.

Ken Perlman:

It has half court basketball. I also know you’re a half court basketball fan.

Dean Wehrli:

Not anymore. Three knee surgeries.

Ken Perlman:

No, I’m sorry. But they host, so there’s a lot of that. And then they also host, farmer’s markets there where residents go and it really kind of invigorates the space. And that’s why people like the trails and the open spaces. And I know Steve talked to you even about parks and some of the smaller parks that people like. The concept of this giant central park is really not what people need or necessarily have to go after anymore. It’s these kind of smaller interconnected parks.

Dean Wehrli:

You’re kind of, it sounds like the underlying current there is social interaction. That getting people doing things together, but you do it in this incredible variety of ways you’ve mentioned, and provide the means for them to do it and then let them go do it. Is that fair?

Ken Perlman:

That’s exactly right. I think that’s exactly right. It’s making sure that you facilitate or create an opportunity for the residents of your community to come together and create a community. That’s really the definition of community, isn’t it?

Dean Wehrli:

Yep. No, I like that. I like that. How about putting you on the spot right now, are you ready? Name.

Ken Perlman:

All right. I’m ready.

Dean Wehrli:

Name the coolest amenity or amenities, couple of amenities pick out, that just made you go, wow. The coolest amenities you’ve seen out there in your globetrotting.

Ken Perlman:

Globetrotting?

Dean Wehrli:

Country trotting.

Ken Perlman:

I haven’t seen too many outside of the United States, globally.

Dean Wehrli:

Oh, I wanted to hear, I’m going to hear big stuff in Canada, but oh well let’s stick to America then.

Ken Perlman:

There’s a couple communities that I really like. I’m a huge fan of Rancho Mission Viejo in Orange County because they really have everything and they’re really a great mix of young buyers, young families and active adults. It’s that active adult pulling into the community. I love their club there. It’s called the Hilltop Club. Very cool, resort style pool. Just a great, great place to hang out and socialize. There’s a great outdoor garden where you can kind of rent this, a big dining room table and have this kind of outdoor farm to table kind of garden party, which is really cool. Great, out by the pool. They have a game room for kids and then they have a farm there with tons of community volunteers.

Ken Perlman:

One of the things that I really like about Rancho Mission Viejo as well is they have, it’s called the campground and it’s really, this created awesome campground for community residents. You can reserve tent structures and there’s a fire pit and a picnic table and you can go camping really within the auspices of your community. And I think they’re just giving a lot of thought to what residents want when they want it at different times. That’s one that I really like.

Ken Perlman:

The other community that I like a lot it and really like is it’s called the Bus. It’s called, it’s DMB in Phoenix by, I’m sorry, it’s Eastmark in Phoenix by DMB. Little tongue tied there. But it’s Eastmark in Phoenix by DMB and they have one of my favorite amenities anywhere. It’s called the bus stop. And there’s this big entertainment room and they brought in this giant bus and they painted it. It’s a giant school bus and they kind of painted it all Partridge family, very cool, colorful, all that kind of thing. It has booths inside and kids can sit and play games, or I’ve seen them there after school doing their homework.

Ken Perlman:

And then there’s a larger room that has kind of TVs and games for the kids. And then that room opens up onto the community’s kind of main pool. You can, the parents can hang out and be at the pool and socialize and that kind of thing. And the kids can hang out inside and play or whatever they want. And they also created this really cool amenity called the orange monster, which is a, it’s a huge play structure and it’s right in front of the community. And it really encourages kind of community involvement and exercise. And when you bought a home there for the first three years, you actually got an orange cruiser bike when you bought your home. You see all these people that are cruising around the community with this orange cruiser bike. And then when they created Victory at Verrado, that was the active adult portion, they gave away bikes to the first buyers in Victory as well. Very cool.

Dean Wehrli:

Wow. Now people see an orange bike, they’re going to see them as one of those community bikes so they’re probably getting stolen a lot these days. Is my guess.

Ken Perlman:

We’re going to think the best of people.

Dean Wehrli:

What do you think is the underlying, these kind of, these coolest master plan amenities that you just mentioned? What’s kind of the key, if you had to wrap it up in terms of what you need to do to make your amenities right for your folks?

Ken Perlman:

Yeah, I think it’s all of the things that we’ve talked about, the social interaction, what have you, but I think at the end of the day it’s about creating authenticity. It’s about something that is real to the buyers and that’s authentic. And I really like what Charter Homes and Neighborhoods is doing. It’s a small builder in Pennsylvania, but they’re doing a community called Walden Crossroads Community in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. And Rob Bowman who I know and I think he’s incredibly smart and just kind of this really great visionary is creating this mix of great street level retail with for sale townhomes above and he’s really calling this kind of the clubhouse redefined. And he’s really playing up the idea of authentic and functional and they brought a lot of local entrepreneurs and businesses to activate the streets. There’s a Pilates studio, there’s a brew pub for you, there’s an ice cream shop and that kind of thing.

Ken Perlman:

And the idea here is to really activate the street, get people out, get people socially interacting. In this instance, spontaneity and the ability to kind of see your neighbors, to walk and to socially interact is really the amenity. And Rob has a great quote, he said, this is what Crossroads is really about, is about having things to do and places to go without a plan. That you can opt into or opt out of whenever you want to with friends you already have, or a chance to make new ones. And I think that to me is really the overall wrap up of everything that is great about the community amenities that we’re seeing and people are trying to create, which is really making it about the experiences, making it about enhancing your lifestyle and social interaction with other people.

Dean Wehrli:

That’s interesting. It strikes me too, one more question master plans are by definition almost, they’re large scale communities. They tend to get a fair amount of, let’s call it NIMBYism as a reaction. The more authentic and the more true to your locale that your master plan is, do you find that helps with that? It helps sort of sell it to the community?

Ken Perlman:

I think it does. I think it’s all about making it about a place where everybody in the community wants to interact. A lot of these things that we’ve talked about, I think it’s important that when you create social events, those things are created by the master plan, but they bring in people from outside of the master plan community. When you create amenities like they did at Crossroads, anybody can go walk and shop there and be part of this overall environment. I think that really kind of creates the interaction with the outside and I think that’s an important element of it. It’s about bringing everybody together, not just walling people off into their own kind of gated master plan community.

Dean Wehrli:

That’s good. That’s a good point. I won’t mention them but there is in Northern California there actually is something, a master plan that has been less than successful and did kind of what you mentioned, they kind of walled it off from the surrounding area and I think that’s a big part of its struggles.

Ken Perlman:

Yeah. There are obviously there are always going to be communities that have gates and it’s reasonable to have gates for security, but I would tell you that we’re seeing less of an emphasis on that in some places. It’s people want to be interactive with their community. They want to be able to kind of associate with people that are like them, but also people that are different than they are. And I think that’s, I think that’s what people are starting to embrace now.

Dean Wehrli:

I hear it. Well that’s great. I’ll do a quick recap. We’ve kind of gone long, but Ken, you know what? You’re worth it. You’re worth every second of it. Let me recap real quick. Absolutely. Some of the must haves that Ken talked about are just this kind of on demand, convenient amenities that help people do what they want, when they want in their own way, whether it’s working out or eating or whatever. It’s about flexibility and choice. And certainly health and wellness is again a big part of those core amenities. In terms of differences across the country, you have pools and splash pads in warmer climates and maybe in cooler climates it’s more kind of outdoor recreation. You want to gear it to the type of people who live around you, like in Seattle, they want to go out and hike. You gear your, you tailor your amenities to those people. And you’ll do the same with your different buyer segments. In terms of the duds, well we know that golf is evil. We found that out here in this podcast today. And so that’s on the way out. Pickleball.

Ken Perlman:

I’m not going to be associated with that comment.

Dean Wehrli:

That’s on me, send it to me. But folks don’t want to be over programmed, Ken mentioned earlier. Not those big contrived amenities are maybe on the way out or already about gone. In terms of why amenities work is again going back to social interaction, it’s you want to do it. Underlying theme is to allow people to interact socially, to give them the means to do so and then let them go nuts. And then some of the coolest things Ken has seen have been this Rancho Mission Viejo, which is an Orange County. Their Hilltop Club with a pool and a garden and a party table and Eastmark, you have the bus stop and the orange monster play structure, the ladder, a massive play structure. And then he just mentioned that you want to create authenticity, you want to be real to your buyers, your community, your surrounding environment, and you want to design amenities that make that true.

Dean Wehrli:

Ken, how did that go? That feels good to you.

Ken Perlman:

That’s a perfect wrap up.

Dean Wehrli:

Right on. Well, again, thank you very much, Ken Perlman was our guest on this episode of New Home Insights. Please join us next time. Until then, I don’t know. I don’t have a sign off. I’ll think of one. Have fun.

Ken Perlman:

We’ll have to work on that for maybe for the next one.

Dean Wehrli:

Write in if you have a sign off for me. But otherwise we’ll see you later.

Ken Perlman:

Thanks.

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