Bloomington city council just approved a new Applewood Pointe Senior Cooperative, much to the chagrin of surrounding neighbors. The new senior housing will be built on what is currently church land-a grassy knoll smack dab in the middle of single family homes. The land is currently zoned for single family homes. The city of Bloomington has rezoned the patch of land for a high-density multi-family four-story structure.
When I first heard about this story and Bloomington residents putting up a fight against new senior housing, I thought "Wow, there's a great example of ageism." Upon further examination, I realized I wouldn't want a 4 story building built right behind my house either. I got a kick out of the comments that the Minneapolis Star and Tribune article generated.
There's clearly an increasing need for ownership opportunities for aging Baby Boomers and younger active seniors. But how do we find a way to answer the need without disrupting existing residential communities?
- Land locked first ring suburbs such as Bloomington must find a solution to the increasing need of senior housing, and fit it into the needs and expectations of existing residents.
- City leaders would do well to examine current vacancy rates in existing senior housing prior to approving large projects such as Applewood Pointe. As a Realtor, I can site a number of examples of condominium projects that have gone belly-up over the last couple of years. Without an understanding of the increasing vacancy rates in existing senior housing, there is the danger of overbuilding and leaving communities with half-built condominium buildings. The promise of increased property taxes over time unfortunately overshadow the caution required.
- City leaders would also be wise to consider the effect of property values of near by homes. Perhaps town hall meetings where residents concerns are heard are not enough. Perhaps a new county valuation of property values and adjusted property taxes as incentives would help gain resident buy-in on these large projects.
- The bottom line for developers is THEIR bottom line. The developer is going to keep the consumers who have put a down payment on a new unit happy, but the developer will not be particularly interested in the happiness of existing residents. City leaders are responsible to ensure existing home values are effected as little as possible, and that the type of senior housing being developed is sustainable over the long-term.
I hope the Bloomington City Council thought through some of the more important long term ramifications of this Applewood Pointe development:
- Will younger baby boomers find these large developments appealing?
- If not, what will the city do with this large development they've plopped right in the middle of a neighborhood of single family homes?
- Would a smaller senior housing community be more appealing to up and coming baby boomers?
- Would a smaller housing community hold greater potential for alternative uses if baby boomers reject this type of housing long term?