Inspir Carnegie Hill East River view
Inspīr Carnegie Hill

Repurposing downtown real estate into age-diverse housing could be a more affordable alternative to traditional retirement communities out in the suburbs, where older adults and other residents may feel isolated. That’s according to architect and designer Matthias Hollwich, one of the authors of the book “New Aging: Live Smarter Now to Live Better Forever.”

Hollwich recently was interviewed by the New York Times.

As McKnight’s previously has reported, urban communities might be more affordable for both developers and residents, as access to public transportation can lessen or even eliminate the developer expense of providing parking, as well as residents’ need for cars.

“Driven by an aging population, a more active vision of retirement, and a shortage of senior housing options and support services, developers are increasingly embracing this urban village model of housing, which offers a sharp contrast to the typical isolated suburban retirement communities,” the Times reported.

Hollwich is working with city leaders in New York to retrofit a vacant Manhattan office building into an apartment building to attract residents of various ages. The urban village model of intergenerational living is meant to be a win-win, as older adults can help support the economy of the local neighborhood while enjoying the amenities of community living, the Times reported.

“I want to give people the power to change their living conditions without moving away,” Hollwich told the media outlet.

Senior living’s expansion into downtown urban areas is a growing trend.

“Fewer than 20 ultra high-end senior living communities exist in downtown urban areas across the country now,” National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care Chief Economist Beth Burnham Mace previously told the Wall Street Journal, adding that the number could conceivably triple, or more, over the next several years.

Companies such as Welltower, Belmont Village Senior Living, Sunrise Senior Living and Maplewood Senior Living, through its Inspir brand, recently have pursued urban senior living projects.

American Seniors Housing Association President David S. Schless predicted a year ago that one-fourth of new senior living development over the next five years will be in downtown urban areas as developers recognize that such areas have been underserved by the sector, which in the past has focused on the suburbs.

Eighty percent of baby boomers who live in large cities want to keep living there after they turn 80 — either in their current homes or someplace nearby, according to the results of a 2017 survey commissioned by Welltower.