A darling of both organic advocates and the local-food movement, community gardening is a trend that’s bound to grow. "[Shared gardens] fulfill a lot of wants for people—a desire for fresh food that’s affordable, for activities that help create a community, for a place that can bring people in a neighborhood together," says Gayle Berens, a senior vice president at the Urban Land Institute. "In addition, they’ve proven to be an effective use of vacant land—if only temporarily." Not only is the trend a haven for foodies and consumers looking for a bit of pastoral simplicity in hectic times, but also for builders and developers looking for shelter from the hefty costs of expensive community amenities, such as golf courses. An inexpensive feature in their own right, community gardens also help cut down on landscaping costs while adding green space to a neighborhood.
Car and Bike Sharing
There used to be a stigma attached to sharing vehicles, but it’s safe to say those days are gone. Thanks to organizations such as Craigslist and Freecycle, consumers no longer blink at the thought of using products that have been passed around the community. And due to the ongoing economic turmoil, thrift is decidedly in vogue; which makes this a perfect time for new-home communities to start incorporating car and bike shares into their master plans. For smaller projects that may not be able to sustain facilities like a Zipcar location, builders can tap into programs such as Getaround, which facilitates local car sharing among those in a community who either want to rent a nearby car or lend theirs out for a fee. And in a perfect example of development karma, fostering a sharing-focused neighborhood will bring good things back to you—in this case, in the form of LEED credits.
The stars have aligned for multigenerational living. In 2009, a record-setting 51.4 million Americans were living in a multigenerational home, according to the Pew Research Center, with motivations ranging from necessity to convenience to culture. On the younger end, the stagnant economy has left a large population of young adults unemployed, many of whom have moved back in with mom and dad. According to Pew, adults between the ages of 25 and 34 accounted for the sharpest growth among those living in multigenerational households between 2007 and 2009, with a 16.8% jump—or about 1.3 million people. But while such situations are (hopefully) temporary, others won’t be so short-lived; among minorities, there’s a strong cultural precedent for sharing spaces across generations. Asian families are twice as likely as white families to live in multigenerational households, the Pew study found, and Hispanic and black families were nearly twice as likely. And according to the Harvard Center for Joint Housing Studies, between 2003 and 2009, immigrant and minority households accounted for 74% of net household growth. And then there are the aging boomers—with 350,000 of them turning 65 each month, and approximately none of them wanting to admit they’ll ever need formal assisted living.
Among renters, single mothers were the largest growing group between 2000 and 2010, with a 30% increase in the number of heads of households, according to U.S. Census data analyzed by Property and Portfolio Research. Between single mothers and single women, the two groups combined make up almost 40% of renting households, according to The Wall Street Journal. For savvy builders willing to cater to the single-woman demographic, this is a niche market just waiting to be tapped. Just ask Charter Homes & Neighborhoods, whose Walden Crossroads community included new townhomes aimed at attracting young, first-time buyers, but found that the community’s walkability, fabulous parks, safety, and proximity to single-family homes with other children struck a chord with the single-mom set.