The make up of today's average household is changing. Over the next five to 15 years, multigenerational households, downsizing baby boomers, roommates, immigrant families, and young tenants with children are poised to dramatically change the renter pool—and the type of housing needed to be built for them. As the makeup and wants of households evolve, savvy developers are expanding their unit sizes to accommodate the broadening renter pool.

Multifamily Executive's Lauren Shanesy talked to developers who are turning their attention to building larger units to accommodate multigenerational households, large units for downsizing baby boomers, and flexible spaces that can change with the lifestyle stages of a growing family.

“We’ve turned our attention exclusively to this idea of multigenerational housing, and that’s all we’re currently building,” says Scott Choppin, CEO and founder of The Urban Pacific Group of Companies, based in Long Beach, Calif.

Choppin’s Urban Townhouse concept is designed with space to accommodate a multigenerational family. The three-story townhomes feature five bedrooms—the first floor is designed with a bed–bath combo suite for grandparents; the second floor has a second suite in addition to the kitchen and family living area; and the uppermost level has three bedrooms and a bath or two for children. The homes also offer private two-car garages and average 1,850 square feet in size. Rent averages $2,850 a month.

In Washington, D.C., a job hub that’s historically been thought of as a transient city filled with career-driven millennials who don’t stick around for more than a few years, Horsham, Pa.–based Toll Brothers Apartment Living has seen a surprising demand for two-bedroom units from young parents who want to raise their children in an urban environment.

“The demand from families is definitely impacting how we’re designing our projects,” says Charles Elliott, president of Toll Brothers Apartment Living. About one-fourth of the 525 units at the company’s Union Place, currently under construction in the District, are either two- or three-bedrooms, and the project’s amenities include child-care facilities such as playrooms in the development’s fitness center.

On the other end of the spectrum, baby boomers are retiring in droves and are seeking a roomier floor plan than what a typical one-bedroom offers. “This demographic is coming into the rental market with a lot more stuff than millennials, and they’re used to having more space,” says Mark Culwell, managing director of multifamily development at Houston-based Transwestern Development Co. The firm has recently started building a higher share of larger, two- and three-bedroom units to answer the boomer demand.

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