(this is an article I wrote for UrbanToronto)
For some time now real estate and aging-related research experts have been predicting the massive sell-off of big homes by baby boomers seeking smaller quarters. With the kids out of the nest and retirement approaching, people are looking to simplify their lives and trim expenses, housing being the major one. This expected downsizing trend has yet to be reflected in national housing data, and many doubt it will become a large enough exodus to affect home prices. Boomers have solid reasons for moving from their existing home, however.
CEO of City Core Developments, Jack Pong, is confident of this demographic shift and his company’s new market research supports his theory. Their online survey polled 508 randomly selected Ontario homeowners 50 years of age and older who are considering purchasing or renting real estate, and it showed that 59 per cent are looking to downsize within 5 years. Top reasons cited were: reducing maintenance work, lowering the cost of living, moving to a smaller home, and increasing their ability to travel more. Many plan to tap home equity to help finance their retirement.
“This approaching wave of downsizing will further boost the condo market, especially for facilities that are offering the upscale comforts and lifestyle communities that Boomers will be demanding,” explains Pong. “This current survey confirms that this demographic places the highest importance on maintaining an independent lifestyle in an urban setting.”
Pong is the developer behind Harmony Village Sheppard, a residential complex planned for today’s baby boom and senior generations in Toronto’s Scarborough district. Now set for public launch, the Page+Steele/IBI Architects’-designed development will consist of two 33-storey towers joined by a shared four-storey podium structure at Sheppard and Warden Avenues. The feel is more traditional than “urban village vibe”, and it is meant to promote an integrated community that offers comfort and convenience.
The vision for the project as set forth by its developer was to reach the next generation of seniors by moving beyond what is currently available in the market, and exploring new opportunities to provide a life enriching environment. Harmony Village Sheppard offers a new approach to condo living and is designed to help residents sustain a healthy and physically and socially active lifestyle without having to leave home. The “age-in-place” concept provides a full range of amenities and services people need as they move toward retirement, including on-site home healthcare and full meal plans. Universal design concepts are also built into suites; think lowered light switches, raised electrical outlets, and easy-access shower entrances.
The 35,000 sq. ft. indoor amenity space comprises: a state-of-the-art aquatic centre; multiple dining venues including a fine dining restaurant and cappuccino bar; entertainment room; library; and, full service beauty salon. On-site year-round leisure and event programming will offer a plethora of activities from art classes and cooking demonstrations to gardening and swimming. And, just as thoughtfully considered as the interior are the exterior spaces, coordinated by NAK Design Group, such as a lushly landscaped forecourt, Zen garden and community terrace where residents can enjoy rooftop planting beds.
Stephanie Calvet is an architect and architectural writer based in Toronto. She can be found at www.stephaniecalvet.com