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January 16, 2015
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Many urban developers have assumed that boomers would want to downsize and move back into the cities for restaurants, entertainment and walkability — but that assumption didn't line up with most research, which says that boomers want to stay in the suburbs, near friends and family.

So what’s the combination of features that entices boomers to sell the big house in the ‘burbs and move to an urban condo?

Skylar at Playa Vista, Playa Vista, Calif., appears to have cracked the code.


A Ranch House Floor Plan — Two to Four Stories Up

The architects at KTGY Group, working with KB Homes, turned a trio of three-level townhouses 90 degrees, making them stacked flats that function more like a ranch house than a townhouse.

Each residence in the three-unit building was designed with ease of use in mind. Each has its own private two-car garage, accessible by an elevator shared by the three residences.

Every unit has three bedrooms and at least 2.5 bathrooms.

The center residence (right) , the smallest of the three floor plans, has 1905 sq.ft. of interior space and two decks for more outdoor living space.

The top floor unit has more indoor space and larger rooms, at 2027 sq.ft., and offers higher ceilings.

The third residence begins on the ground floor, with a small suite adjacent to the garages (left).

This was designed to accommodate a young adult still living at home, guests or aging parents.

The occupants of the suite can walk up stairs to the main floor or take the elevator. That residence provides a total of 2449 square feet, and includes an additional full bath in the ground-floor suite.

 Home prices in that Los Angeles County area are quite high, so the prices for these condos, at $1.35 million to $1.52 million, are considered market rate.

A Master Planned Community with Boomer-Friendly Features

Research tells us that boomers want a home that’s easy to live in, easy to maintain, energy efficient for low utility costs, and is in a walkable neighborhood with restaurants, grocery stores, shops and opportunities for entertainment. The Playa Vista community has many of those features now: private courtyards, nearby public parks, community gardens, outdoor demonstration kitchens, a dog park, walking/biking trails, sports facilities and picnic areas with chess boards.

Within walking distance is the community clubhouse with pools, a spa and a gym, as well as meeting rooms and event spaces. There are also opportunities for banking, dry cleaning, Pilates and yoga classes, a coffee shop, restaurants and a public library.

Planned for the near future is a four-block lifestyle/entertainment district with restaurants, boutiques, a gourmet grocery store and a 10-screen movie theater. And the community is near public transit, LAX airport and major highways, and is minutes from beaches and Concert Park.

A Simple, Classy Design

Boomers who buy single-family homes prefer an open floor plan, like that of the top-floor residence (right) where the kitchen flowing into the living area creates a space that lends itself to entertaining. That’s reflected in all three floor plans at Skylar.

Aging eyes need more light, and the generous windows in these condos let in plenty of natural light, and can open to outdoor spaces.

The exterior of each building pairs cement plaster with attractive accents of fiber cement siding with the appearance of stained cedar, for a contemporary Southern California look. But below the skin, the condos have other attributes — they’re built to a LEED Platinum standard of energy efficiency, with many sustainable features.


But Did the Boomers Buy?

Did the architects and builders guess right? Well, as of last fall, 100% of phases I, II and III were sold out, as was 67% of phase IV — and more than two-thirds of top-floor unit buyers were 55 or older. The combination of single-level, indoor/outdoor living in a walkable, amenity-rich community hit all the right notes for boomers looking for fewer worries and more enjoyment. 

National Association of Home Builders
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