The Hottest Up and Coming Vertical: Active Adult

For the past two years, the hottest topic in commercial real estate continues to center around the meteoric rise of the active adult market. This vertical is attractive to both investors and renters for a number of reasons, but the design of these spaces continues to mystify those looking to develop in this space. Is it a multifamily or senior living product? And just how does design differ from other verticals?

In this month’s blog post, we’re discussing active adult design and how Banko Design is leading the charge in this vertical.

So far, 2022 has been an incredibly auspicious year for us. We’re incredibly blessed to continue to do exciting work with fantastic clients. At the time of this blog’s publication, active adult makes up a whopping 45% of the new design projects we’ve started in this calendar year! Wowza.

Does that make us “active adult experts?” You can be the judge of that. Read on to hear more about our experience in this emerging vertical.

HOW IS ACTIVE ADULT DIFFERENT?

Our whole ethos here at Banko Design is to borrow best practices from each of our housing verticals – senior living, multifamily, and boutique hospitality – and apply those to our “resimercially” designed projects. Active adult (or age restricted, or age targeted) design is no different. Active adult is an attractive niche for our clients because they can often get premium rents by offering resort style amenities and marketing their properties as being more “luxe/exclusive/hospitality focused/etc.” than traditional market rate multifamily housing in the surrounding area.

It’s not as easy as applying the right semantics, however. Developers are also attracting older residents by choosing sites that leverage adjacent healthcare resources and amenities. Instead of taking on the overhead to provide these services in-house as is required in a senior care community, active adult developments offer the freedom of “a la carte” healthcare service that allows residents to access only what they need in terms of medical care just minutes from the property. This keeps rent prices much lower than the same prospective resident would find at a CCRC.

Something else to consider is the food and beverage program expectations at a senior care community versus active adult. This may surprise some, but we typically do not recommend commercial kitchens in active adult communities. In fact, let’s also eliminate formal dining rooms. What does this mean for developers and operators? No expectations of a defined F&B program on site. Rejoice!

Active adult residents want to feel sexy and in control. They’re hosting a dinner party with other residents in the clubhouse’s catering kitchen. They’re making dinner for their grandkids in their unit. They’re ordering Uber Eats or going out on the town. You get the picture.

KEEPING THE “ACTIVE” IN ACTIVE ADULT

Forget what you’ve heard about the “adult child” being the decision maker. The prospective renter is most often leading the charge and their motivations run the gamut whether they want a change of scenery, are looking to be closer to family and grandkids, or are just completely over the demands of home ownership.

What we especially love about the Active Adult vertical is how social the residents tend to be. Based on our extensive research and insight from clients pursuing the space, we’ve taken a more laissez-faire approach to active adult design. We shape great spaces that encourage socialization and then let the residents fill in the blanks. We focus on promoting socialization through design especially among mature adults because it’s proven to help prevent cognitive decline, improve emotional wellbeing, and reduce stress, which in turn leads to longer and healthier lives.

We do this by paying extra attention to the programming of clubrooms to ensure they aren’t over- compartmentalized but still function seamlessly for a number of activities whether residents plan to entertain, co-work, or stay active. We ask ourselves how residents will move through and interact with the property over the course of a day. We look at how the interiors and exteriors talk to each other and then capitalize on opportunities to better engage with the outdoors. Ultimately, we want these spaces to feel more like a social club than anything else while still being mindful that the amenity footprint of Active Adult projects is often smaller (in order to capitalize on more premium real estate) than a traditional CCRC.

ACTIVE ADULT – HERE TO STAY?

If you can’t tell, we’re absolutely loving this vertical and the flexibility it offers for an age group we feel has been historically underserved. Do we worry that it has the potential to be overbuilt? Sure, but we are also hopeful that developers looking to build in this space – either as a one-off or as a portfolio of projects – do it the right way by selecting consultants that will help establish Active Adult projects an attractive market for years and decades to come.

We are so excited about the Active Adult projects we have in the works in all stages here at Banko Design and how this market continues to take shape. Do you have an Active Adult project you need expert help on? We’d love to hear about it. Reach out to us by emailing business_development@bankodesign.com!

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Banko Design is a full-service interior design and FF&E procurement firm for the senior living, multifamily and boutique hospitality markets. Our talented team of designers and purchasing agents work with developers and operators to program, design, document, procure and install stunning spaces at any price point.