Looking to the future, it seems like small residential and commercial neighborhoods are the wave of the future. In the early part of the 1900’s, before the automobile became king, people had to walk in order to do their shopping. During the first half of the 20th century the A & P Markets were the largest retailer in the county. There was a small A & P in every neighborhood that served the local community. A & P along with the community shopping areas went by the wayside, in favor of freeways and big shopping malls.
Back to the future. There seems to be a new trend that keeps showing up across the country and it is starting to take hold. New development and developers are starting to realize that the new generation wants to move back to that kind of environment – updated. Residential high-rise apartments and condos are being built in areas along with small retail space and restaurants within an easy walking distance. In some areas office space is even being incorporated into the development plan. In the December issue of the CCIM Commercial Investment Magazine in an article titled “Apartment Hunters” there is a section that talks about the Tenant of the Future.
It talks about Generation Y and what they are looking for in housing and lifestyle. It talks about how they want to live work and shop all within walking distance. Smaller seems to be better and they want small homes, smaller families and smaller shopping. There is a trend for people of this generation to want to shop for fresh food every day and they would like to walk down the street and talk with their neighbors while they do it. I have heard rumors that both Wal Mart and Shopko are looking at building smaller stores in an effort to reach out to smaller market areas.
Downtown Salt Lake City is a good example on a larger scale. During the last 10 plus years the downtown area of SLC has gone through this type of change. A new light rail system goes right up Main Street and travels south to other communities along the Wasatch front. It also connects the airport and east to the university. Redevelopment of the surrounding area brought in high-rise apartments/condos and new office space. Complete renovation of 2 old and tired shopping malls now includes a super market. Yes there are large stores in the malls but the concept is the same and targets the Generation Y folks.
What about us Boomers? It may be too early to tell. We still like our space and our things. A car is the only way to get around and we like to go to Costco and buy for a month. We have homes stuffed with things that we have collected over the years and really are not ready to give them up. But I think that even the boomers, as they mature, will embrace this new lifestyle. As they have to park the car and down size they will look more and more to this kind of living.