The Light: Remember the Healthy Amenities
August 12th, 2020
So much of today’s dialogue about housing relates to making the home a place of comfort and safety. The same is true for the community. As we continue to assess master plans across the country, we’ve noted the amenities that promote outdoor health and wellness are the most used.
“Trails are the antidote for indoor amenities.” This quote from Jay Hoeschler, Design Director for Avid Trails, perfectly summarizes the trend toward outdoor recreation. Great trails are more important than ever. In JBREC’s survey of 20,000+ new home shoppers, 68% want paths and trails in their community, more than any other amenity. And they’ve never been more used than they are today, with traffic counts on trails across the country way up. To help keep residents socially distanced, trails are being reconfigured as loop roads that facilitate one-way traffic or with “pull out” zones to help with safe passing. Fitness stations along routes provide a complementary work-out opportunity, particularly important as gyms remain closed. Avid Trails created an elaborate trail network at Newland’s Bexley in Tampa, Florida, where more than 10 miles weave through the community and open space, connecting five parks within the master plan, enhanced by fitness stations along “Boot Camp Loop.” Newland reports the trails are being used for everything from camps for kids to families on hoverboards!
“Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance you must keep moving.” This quote by Albert Einstein has never been more relevant than it is today. Residents are getting out, and they’re peddling through their communities. Cycling industry sales surged 75% YOY in April (source: NPD), the largest spike in the US since the oil crisis in the 1970s as a population “at home” increased its demand for physical fitness in the form of riding. In July, Forbes reported that traffic on mountain bike trails across the US was up between 100% and 500% over the same time last year. And whether your master plan features extreme bicycling in the form of a BMX supercross track and an Olympic caliber velodrome, like atRiverwalk in Rock Hill, South Carolina, or a quaint but practical rental and repair facility at “The Outfitter” at Trilogy at Verde Rivernortheast of Phoenix, the desire for biking appears to be at an all-time high.
Bicycles can be a source of community pride as well. With the opening of the Eastmark master plan in Phoenix in 2014, the community’s developer DMB (now Brookfield) presented each resident with his/her own “Eastmark Original” orange beach cruiser, reinforcing a community ethos of an outdoor, healthy, and balanced lifestyle. Those first community residents are still proud to ride throughout Eastmark and show off their bikes.
“Everything I know, I learned from dogs,” Nora Roberts once said. Animal shelters and rescues across the country have run out of pets for adoption amid stay-at-home orders, and searches for “pet” on Pinterest surged 41% between February and April 2020. A recent survey by the National Association of Realtors reported 68% of its members believe community animal policies influenced their clients’ decisions to purchase or rent a home there. The message to developers: Don’t forget the pet amenities! Rise Communities certainly did not at its Cane Island master plan in Houston, where visitors are greeted by canine ambassador in the form of a six-year-old golden retriever named Hub. While there are many great pet amenities around the country, Daybreak Dog Park in South Jordan, Utah, is among our favorite with benches, umbrellas, and even pet water stations that intersect with fun locations for dogs to run and play.
Trails, bikes, and dogs were among the most important master plan amenity trends we discussed in our podcast last year. Listen to the entire episode here.