Wave of baby boomer retirements to shape real estate development

Baby boomers drive development of Ankeny Row — a sustainable-housing housing cluster — in SE Portland.

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Developers are looking to meet the demand for sustainable housing as baby boomers near retirement and seek to downsize their living space.

Residents formed a partnership to oversee the development company that built Ankeny Row in SE Portland, OregonLive.com reports.

“We’re starting to see boomers … realize they need to be proactive about how they’re going to age and try to stay in their own neighborhoods,” said Margaret Neal, director of the Institute on Aging at Portland State University.

Ankeny Row, designed and built for its residents by Portland-based Green Hammer, comes with an array of efficient features with a target of using no more electricity than is generated by rooftop solar panels. But the townhouses also have aging-friendly features that much of the housing stock available today lacks: ground-floor master bedrooms, for example, and wheelchair accessible entryways. It also embraces elements of co-housing, a development style that emphasizes common areas and community. The townhouses have balconies that look out on a common courtyard, and there’s a common room where residents can gather for meals or other events.

The PDX Commons has similar goals. Although land has yet to be purchased and the development is not yet designed, 15 of the 27 proposed units have already been claimed, according to OregonLive.com.

The Bend Bulletin reported that baby boomers were renting at a 53-percent higher rate in 2013 than in 2005.

“(This increase) reflects the movement of the baby boom generation into this age group and the drop in homeownership among these households,” reads a report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing that looked at the data but provided no other explanation for why so many people in this age group were renting their homes. The Harvard report found 76.6 percent of people in this age group owned a home in 2013 compared to 81.4 percent in 2003.

According to the Census Bureau’s data, the number of renter-occupied homes nationwide headed by someone who was:

  • 25 to 45 years old increased by 13 percent,
  • 45 to 54 increased by 22 percent, and
  • 65 or older increased by 23 percent.

In Deschutes County, renter-occupied homes of baby boomers jumped 174 percent in that time frame. 

A property management company owner said people want to live in Central Oregon and they’ll find a way to do that as houses become harder to buy.

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