As times change and we encounter life’s transitions, many of the things we once desired take on new forms and shapes. None of those transitions is quite as profound as starting—and raising—a family, and for unit owners who are also parents, having in-house amenities and programming that support them in the job of bringing up young kids is increasingly important. Parent-owners want their building or HOA to provide them with safe, stimulating spaces and activities—and both developers and boards are doing just that, sometimes in places where they had never existed before.
Younger Residents, Different Needs
Developers and clued-in boards alike know that buildings and associations that take into account the needs of a changing community demographic tend to do better on nearly all fronts, including resale value. Needs have a tendency to change too. We want to keep our children close in a world that is more unpredictable than ever—and while we don’t want them cooped up inside and bored, it is hard to allow them to venture out as we once did. Long gone are the days of stickball in the streets, or playing jacks on the sidewalk. As our children become more sophisticated and tech-savvy, keeping up with the times can prove daunting to both parents and to those tasked with programming activities for kids in multifamily communities.
That said however, the child at play has remained regardless of the times. You’d be hard pressed to find a child who can resist the allure of a jungle gym or swing set. Not only does it entertain them, it encourages an active, healthy lifestyle cleverly disguised as frolicking. John McConkey is the market insights manager for Landscape Structures, a company located in Minnesota that provides playground equipment and structures nationwide. “Kids haven’t changed,” he says. “They still want to swing, and slide, and climb and spin. It’s important to appreciate the value of play.”
One of many questions often posed to realtors and association managers is the proximity and density of local parks and playgrounds but increasingly, parents don’t have to look any further than right inside the building they’re buying into.
The Kids Are Okay
Time was, if your building had a gym with a treadmill and some dumbbells, or maybe a lounge with some couches and a pool table, you were all set. It’s only fairly recently that kid- and family-focused amenities became a consideration in newly constructed buildings and existing communities alike. According to Scott Stewart, a real estate broker who has been with the New York based Corcoran Group for 20 years, the trend of those who are already parents or parents-to-be beginning to consider the spaces and amenities available for children has really only been in full swing the last 15 years or so. Times change, and when you start to notice more strollers and car seats, you start thinking. Developers must be mindful of these growing trends as well.