The days of families spending time at the mall for hours on end are quickly dwindling. Finding a place for whole family to be entertained has changed. Technology allows us to learn, shop, and entertain ourselves instantaneously. But the convenience comes at the price of community. The evolution and innovation of physical space to facilitate community has led to the rise of mixed-use development and the rebirth of urbanization nationwide. Today's consumers desire spaces where they can live, work and play, and they want it all within a walkable neighborhood. At the same time, large national chains are struggling to compete with the likes of Amazon and other e-commerce companies. Yet many local businesses are thriving because of community relationships and personalized consumer experiences.
The Southwest Florida market is intriguing, with a blend of retirees, snow birds, middle-age and young families and a growing millennial demographic, opting to stay close to family and pay southwest Florida rents versus the likes of New York or San Francisco. Due to the variety of age groups and consumer preferences, developers are challenged to create spaces to engage all. Still, we are relational and need an escape from work, school and even the house.
Developers need to maintain the pulse of the local market regarding these trends. Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch is focusing on three concepts to facilitate a thriving live-work-play community:
Focus on Lifestyle—Shops are not enough. At Waterside Place, the developers are intentionally creating space for community engagement and active lifestyles, such as an 8-acre park for weekday walks, weekend concerts, outdoor yoga, and community events. Additionally, included within the mixed-use areas are oversize bike lanes and the allocation of space for farmer's markets and outdoor entertainment.
Walkability - Thriving communities experience a great balance of live-work-play, which is enhanced by walkability. The concept is successful because of the community bond it creates. A walkable community provides natural daily interactions as people walk from home to office, and then back home or to the gym, restaurant or entertainment venue.
- Millennial demographic—Shopping preferences have changed the commerce platforms. The millennial demographic is more drawn to experiential retail and unique destinations, such as local coffee shops, fast casual dining experiences, tailored fitness classes, beer gardens and co-work space.
The objective in a live-work-play development is not to target a specific age demographic, but to create space for multi-generational interaction and true community for all.