A major theme among home- builders near major city centers across the nation is the suburban-to-urban trend, which means new-home communities in the suburbs that have the look and feel of urban city-center residences.
“Recent data shows homebuyers from Millennials to Baby Boomers are actively seeking out single-family homes in suburbs that incorporate elements of an urban lifestyle, including walkability, green spaces and convenient access to public transportation,” says Caroline Simmel, senior vice president of marketing at Edward Andrews Homes in the Atlanta, Ga., area.
In its own suburban-to-urban community, named Harlow and located in Roswell and Alpharetta, Ga., Edward Andrews worked to create a vibrant community with “a sense of place and appeal to those who want an intimate neighborhood filled with amenities and community happenings, as well as plenty of space to relax and simply enjoy life,” she adds.
To capture that essence, many builders agree that a suburban-to-urban community must have two main focuses: walkability and sociability.
According to Simmel, the first key to a suburban-to-urban community is sociability — the ability for homeowners to mix and mingle among their neighbors in a communal city-like setting.
“We’re finding our older population, the Baby Boomers, doing a lot of things in city centers where there’s restaurants and entertainment,” says Simmel, adding that older Millennials and professional families are also seeking the same feel with elements of an urban lifestyle included, things like green spaces and convenient access to public transportation.
All three of these cohorts are able to find common ground in a single community where neighborhood kids are able to play together in parks and community pools, Millennial couples find plenty of recreation and social activities and the suburban-oriented, 55+ crowd looking to downsize can remain near the same area where they raised their families without having to sacrifice their normal social routines.
“So that’s the beauty of being able to create this community — we’re able to appeal to this wide range of buyers,” says Simmel. “People are just looking for that connectivity, so we put together what we call Harlow Hall, our main building patterned off that town hall idea, and inside is a community library exchange and lounge where you can go in on a Saturday morning and read the paper, have coffee and talk to your neighbors.”
With amenities like community centers such as Harlow Hall, dog parks, playgrounds, sports courts and plenty of green space for events like food truck nights and farmer’s markets, community members are able to socialize and attend events just as easily as they would be able to in any downtown area.
And the best part? It’s all within walking distance.
The second focus is all about location — that walkability factor.
“Based on tremendous interest and brisk sales at our new-construction communities within walking distance of thriving suburban town centers, there is high demand for townhomes that combine open, flexible floor plans and convenient locations within walking distance of great suburban downtowns and metro stations,” says Jeff Benach, co-principal of Illinois-based Lexington Homes .
For instance, the up-and-coming Lexington Towne community is located only half a mile from the thriving downtown of Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago.
“This community provides an amazingly rare opportunity for buyers to live in new-construction, single-family homes so close to one of Chicago’s most popular suburbs,” he says.
Not far away is the Brighton Mews community by Edward R. James Companies in Park Ridge, Ill .
“Brighton Mews delivers a high-quality lifestyle rooted in convenience, not only because it’s a maintenance-free community, but it’s also within walking distance to a variety of shops, restaurants and public transportation,” says Edward R. James Companies President Jerry S. James. “It’s ideal for buyers looking to maintain an urban lifestyle while enjoying the small-town charm, quality schools and advantageous pricing of an in-demand suburban location.”
Ready to find that suburban-to-urban lifestyle of your own? Start your search in the ’burbs near you and take a walk today.
Drew Knight is a freelance writer for Builders Digital Experience (BDX). You can find him online at LinkedIn.