Vertical Villages

Homes grouped around a small collection of shops, churches, banks, a doctor’s office and a barber. It’s the way cities and towns developed. Today, a similar process is underway in Vancouver, Miami, Baltimore, San Jose, Memphis and many other cities, except expansion is as much upward as it is outward in a new vision of community considered a “vertical village.”

The concept found early proponents in Asia, where space is at a greater premium. Now, similar neighborhoods are taking shape in the U.S. and Canada, often in former industrial or commercial sites. In Memphis, Cross-town Concourse is rising in a former Sears distribution center and retail outlet the size of 25 football fields. In Atlanta, another abandoned distribution center is the foundation for Ponce Market, a mixed-use community adjacent to the Beltline. And in an era when retail seems to be threatened, shopping malls — not the familiar single-dimension covered expanse, but open sites inviting participation — are the foundation for vertical villages along with a mix of residences in multiple buildings and varied price brackets.

Misora Santana Row. Photo courtesy of Ankrom Moisan Architecture. 

However, no matter how well meshed, retail and residential alone do not create community. Instead, the addition of parks, trails, green spaces, grocery stores, farmer’s markets, performance centers, galleries, venues for the arts, wellness, education and medical and dental facilities turn what might be simply a new mall into a community.

Arts and culture are a focus at Crosstown Concourse, which is a collaborative effort, focused on the arts. Here, residents are perceived as embodying the spirit of the place.  

Santana Row in West San Jose, California, is another relatively new mixed-use community incorporating retail, offices and residential.

“Community is engrained in everything we do here at Santana Row,” says Collette Navarrette, West Coast marketing director for the developer, Federal Realty Investment Trust. “The center-wide amenities, highly engaged residents, and unique community events that Santana Row offers inspire and connect people in a meaningful and lasting way.

The concept of a vertical village might be mainstream for developers, but it’s still new to consumers. One of their biggest questions is whether the convenience and community will meet their needs and most especially their values, according to data scientist David Allison, who heads an eponymous global advisory firm. He says it all comes down to values. “What we value determines what we do.”

Allison brings new insights into con-sumer behavior. He contends traditional demographic parameters of age and gender do not work in today’s market. “People really don’t act their age anymore. Gender rules and norms are less important than ever before. In fact,” he says, “we live in a post-demographic era. Allison’s firm has amassed data from almost half a million people regarding 40 core human values as well as several hundred other needs, wants and expectations. Their database, Valuegraphics, shows that people in the traditional demographic categories have little agreement — only 13 percent of the time for Boomers, 11 percent for Gen X and 15 percent for Millennials. Humans overall only agree 8 percent of the time. Instead, Valuegraphics data uncovered 10 huge groups or architypes who agree on pretty much everything.

To profile those drawn to a vertical village, Allison combined this data with additional research among 1,864 North Americans who indicated interest in such a community. The results reveal several major interest profiles.

The Interlace in Singapore, designed by Ole Scheeren and Oma, established a new vision for urban residential living. Photo courtesy of Mike Cartmell. 

Local Experience
Chasers Approximately 32 percent literally pursue experience after experience, but they like to have those experiences close to home. “They want to do things they love again and again,” says Allison. Loyal to things that trigger a sense of belonging, they are apt to join a team or club and love to see the same faces. Quality of life often means quality of social life. A sense of belonging is important and they like the idea of multipurpose living. Allison says for this group extra thought should be given to programming. A 3D walkthrough of a yet to be finished building would have great appeal.

Workaholic Investors
Comprising 19 percent of potential residents, this group values financial security, material possessions and wealth. They are likely see a place in a vertical village as an investment. Allison says, “They are thinking long term about all of the component parts of the offering.” They are likely to be attracted to the proximity of amenities. Who lives in the building could also be an incentive for them.

Creative Savers
This group, which comprises about 16 percent of the sample, gravitates to places that will foster their own creativity. They accept potential financial challenges presented by a creativity-centered life. They are likely to have children and are attracted to inspiring design, cozy common areas and quaint trails meandering through parks, according to Allison.

City Loving Environmentalists
The last of the major archetypes, this group sees this style of community as being better for the environment and is motivated to reduce their carbon footprint. They love city living but appreciate and value of parks and green spaces. Highly educated and loyal, they are attracted to diversity. Family and relationships as well as health and wellbeing are also important to them.

Another group, about 18 percent of the sample, is composed of varied smaller architypes, which indicate going vertical might represent a substantial cross section of consumers.

CityVista, a mixed-use development, located at 475 K Street, N.W., in the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood of Washington D.C. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons by AgnosticPreachersKid.

Raise your IQ as you indulge in these one-of-a-kind amenities. Communities are constantly coming up with new ways to create impressive amenities for their residents and guests, and these communities are doing just that. 

From studying the stars through a luxury telescope, to hands-on learning from conservationists, residents at these communities are offered the chance to learn from the comfort of their own homes. 

Study the Stars in Style

As you are perched atop a protected hilltop, set up a telescope and take in the stars at Headwaters — a tech-inflected home community developed by Freehold Communities.

The structure has been carefully deconstructed to become the setting for a stargazing amphitheater. Astronomers from the University of Texas frequently gather with Headwaters families to create a high-touch, outdoor classroom for residents to learn about celestial events — eclipses, meteor showers and supermoons.

Located in Dripping Springs, Texas, the Headwaters integrates 1,000 homes within expanses of natural habitat, eight miles of walking trails, as well as five protected hilltops.

Photos courtesy of Freehold Communities

Learn from Onsite Conservationists

With thousands of acres of unspoiled nature and 32 miles of riverfront, Palmetto Bluff offers a natural classroom where teachers — onsite conservationists and guides — run tours, classes, workshops and field trips open to all residents of the luxury, South Carolina community. Learn about life oaks, wild turkeys and other Low Country flora and fauna on bike, horseback or on foot, or head to the May River to explore by kayak, canoe or paddle board.

Looking to learn about the area’s rich history? Onsite archeologist Dr. Mary Socci leads artifact hunting expeditions from past communities dating back 12,000 BC and even leads cemetery walks that include past inhabitants’ pets.

Photos courtesy of Palmetto Bluff

Explore Surrounding Nature

At the Walden Monterey, the luxury agrihood where expansive lots will start in the $5 millions, developers are launching a tree-naming app described as “Pokémon go meets Google Sky, but for trees.” The goal? To increase residents’ interactions with nature through gamification.

Focus on Sustainability and Environmentalism

Located along Ecuador’s Pacific Riviera in the town of Puerto Caya, Oceanside Farms allows residents to gather for onsite lectures and TedX presentations focusing on sustainability and environmentalism.

Discover Astronomy from an Astronomer  

For those interested in astronomy, Mountain Shadows is the place to be. The destination offers the Cocktails Under the Cosmos Series and the Spirited Sipping SeminarsAstronomy lessons take place at the hotel’s Camelback Overlook rooftop deck, offered to both hotel guests and residents of the community. Each astronomer-led event features a signature cocktail themed around that month’s astrological sign, which can be seen brighter in the valley due to its low light pollution and dramatic desert backdrop.

A new trend is emerging — real estate clients with communities are beginning to provide homeowners with unique welcome mementos.

Acknowledging the importance that a destination plays when buying a new home, luxury real estate developments are ensuring that buyers feel welcome from the moment they purchase their residence. From personalized gifts to historical keepsakes, resorts are making an effort to provide new homeowners with unique mementos tied to the destination — a key reminder of why they chose to buy in that specific location.

Montage Residences Kapalua Bay

Lahaina, Hawaii
This property provides new owners with a print of a one-of-a-kind portiart by Hawaii-based artist, Pegge Hopper. The portrait of the resort’s renowned cultural ambassador, Silla Kaina, hangs in the lobby of the resort, but residence owners receive a print of that piece to display in their new home. The property also offers new owners the option to receive an official Hawaiian blessing of their home by a Hawaiian Kahu — a priest that is known to bring good fortune.

Photos courtesy of Montage Residences Kapalua Bay

Snake River Sporting Club

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Nestled amongst 3.5 million acres of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Snake River Sporting Club presents new homeowners with handcrafted Ron Panko knives made from the original Jackson Hole Mountain Resort tram cable. The original developer of the Snake River Sporting Club, Dick Edgecomb, purchased the tram cable from the mountain resort, providing homeowners with an authentic piece of Jackson’s rugged western landscape.

Photos courtesy of Snake River Sporting Club

Mountainside at Northstar

Lake Tahoe, CA
Every new Mountainside at Northstar owner gets a unique gift from their new community, depending on their personal interests and tastes. The most popular selection is the stand-up paddleboard, but owners have also opted to receive mountain bike classes or a fully stocked wine fridge. Welcome gifts are based on the family and what they would value, appreciate and put to use in their new Lake Tahoe home.

Photos courtesy of Mountainside at Northstar

The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

Tucson, Arizona
Situated in the high Sonoran Desert near the Tortolita Mountains, The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain offer their new homeowners hand-carved petroglyphs that are representative of the pieces from the tribal people that once inhabited the land thousands of years ago. Presented on a large piece of flagstone, owners will typically hang this somewhere in their home or place it on their patio.

Photos courtesy of The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton

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