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Fitness at Home

The Future of Real Estate Community Design

Posted on December 14, 2020 | Read time: 7 minutes

Whether working remotely from home, homeschooling the kids or even getting in a workout at the home gym – Americans are looking at their surroundings in an entirely new way and spending more time in their homes than ever. As we emerge from the pandemic crisis and plan for the future, psychographic priority shifts will be long lasting. As a result, the future of real estate community design has been greatly affected as visionary developers, builders, interior designers, urban planners and architects reimagine their plans to address the new reality.

Reimagined Spaces

Coronavirus challenges in American cities has provided opportunities and incentives to reimagine all public spaces. Cities like downtown Sarasota are ahead of the curve with construction already underway on The Bay, its new bay front revitalization project that provides open air destinations for public enjoyment. Scenic parks and walking trails are integrated with a new Performing Arts Center and recreational access to the waterfront. Adjacent to the landmark project, insightful developers are creating new residential opportunities.

Next door, Quay Sarasota is a new 14-acre waterfront district designed to connect downtown Sarasota with all the parks, arts and excitement of the bay front area. GreenPointe Developers, master developer of The Quay, has focused on providing public access to the waterfront in its mixed-use plan that provides ground level boutique dining and shopping with a variety of residential options. Bayso by Kolter Urban is a new 18-level luxury condominium strategically situated within Quay Sarasota and adjacent to the recently completed Ritz-Carlton Residences Sarasota. The community is now accepting sales reservations and is priced from the $800s.

For future residents of Bayso, The Sarasota Multi-Use Recreational Trail (MURT) traverses through The Quay, providing another connection to the Sarasota Bay waterfront for biking, walking and jogging. In turn, the outdoor setting provides a highly sought after amenity—walkable outdoor living.

Master Planned Communities Highlight Seclusion

New master-planned communities are also emphasizing outdoor living and access to natural areas. A strong desire for lower-density has propelled suburban growth especially in warmer climates, a trend that was already happening in the last five years. Developers are shifting their focus from urban in-fill projects to expansive tracts of land where open space can be utilized to provide a unique list of amenities families desire.

In North Florida, Nassau County has opened a new world for families in the Jacksonville DMA. The area is home to several state-protected nature preserves, quaint historic downtowns, and a natural landscape as the backdrop for new development. Tributary, one of the first new communities in the area, will be unveiling its Model Home village this Winter. The community is taking full advantage of its natural green space including river access for a kayak launch, a public/private partnership for a regional sports park and miles of walking trails that connect to the neighboring state park.

Tributary’s resort-style amenity center will also include outdoor spaces including a tot lot adventure park, imaginative pool complex and a popular dog park. A significant portion of the community will preserve its natural uplands and wetlands.

Floor Plan Design Trends

With more time being spent at home, architects are incorporating these lifestyle changes into the home design as well. To help balance work and home life, home offices and flex spaces have become an essential addition to any floor plan design. With the transition to online schooling, there is a need for multiple designated workspaces to reduce distractions. Whether it’s a separate home office or a nook with multi-media functionality built in, home buyers need clear workspaces for everyone in the household, not just mom or dad.

There is also a new focus on indoor/outdoor environments. Foyers or mudrooms have become essential for sanitizing hands, receiving packages and removing shoes and other apparel. Patios, terraces, and outdoor decks are new settings for our daily activities. Outdoor entertainment areas featuring pools, outdoor whirlpools, and even fire pits fill the void of missed vacation experiences and enable safer gatherings with friends and neighbors.

Experiential Themes

Developers are finding niche markets for individuals that have a focused way of life and then building around those target audiences’ specific needs and desires. Coach House offers the first of its kind equestrian lifestyle focused residences in Wellington, Florida. Every residence in this mid-rise condominium development has been designed for the elite traveler seeking a lock and leave lifestyle and a high level of personal service. Expansive terraces overlook the show grounds of the Equestrian Preserve, creating seamless indoor/outdoor living space with views of the competition. Professional on-site building management, an in-house butler service, 24 hour front desk staff, valet, in house grooming, private dining and a personal concierge, 24/7 security staff are at residents’ disposal for them to enjoy a carefree, worry free lifestyle focused on family and friends versus household maintenance.

While Coach House’s focus is on the equestrian life, Arden an innovative master-planned community in Wellington focuses on farm life. At the center of the community is a five-acre farm and event barn, where community events, seasonal classes, and gatherings are offered in a natural setting referred to as “The Agrihood”. This amenity for all of Arden’s neighborhoods, allows residents to voluntarily work with their two full-time farmers as they plant and tend to the crops, and the entire community gets a share of the harvest.

Placemaking at Its Best

Some communities have had great success using outdoor attraction amenities that are open to the public to lure in homebuyers. The 7.5-acre Crystal Lagoon in the Epperson community is the first-of-its-kind amenity in the United States . Located in Wesley Chapel, Florida, this amenity is also enjoyed by non-residents for a fee for day long adventures at the lagoon or for an event venue use. The attraction amenity model is a great way to take a remote town and put it on the map. Other developers are following suit in their plans, realizing if they take an otherwise unknown area and add a unique attraction people will travel to it. It is a win for all parties involved. The developer gains a lot of interest that attracts people to the homes and that area becomes a popular destination.

Another exciting example of placemaking is Willow Lakes which is described as “America’s biggest artificial surf park” coming to Florida’s east coast. The Willow Lakes development will include 800 residential homes, 600 hotel rooms, 400,000 square feet of retail and 125,000 square feet of office space. Before the news broke about this amazing surf park, there wasn’t much interest in Fort Pierce. Now, the news is spreading like wildfire, and the press has been very positive. This attraction will bring people from all over the country to experience something new. Developers hope they decide to settle nearby on a more permanent basis once they get a feel for the area.

The pandemic’s impact on real estate will be seen for years to come. Even post COVID-19, the effects will impact the next generation of homebuyers . Working remotely has become the new normal and being conscious of cleanliness and sanitation and the reassessment of a home’s functionality has been transformed permanently. Homes are no longer just seen as home base, but rather as the place to live, work and play.

The Cotton Solution

Over the past four decades, Cotton & Company has focused exclusively on the unique challenges of the real estate industry. Cotton & Company’s experienced team is ready to develop a program to reach today’s emerging markets, taking full advantage of the technological advances in today’s digital marketing environment. To stay up to date with the latest real estate industry news and trends visit to subscribe to our Weekly Cotton Compendium E-Newsletter and download the latest Cotton Solutions Magazine.

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