“Community” is a word that conjures up powerful images, emotions and feelings. The idea of community has long been an integral part of how we define ourselves, and communities both large and small are a vital element of the human experience; providing an underlying social structure that contributes to our comfort, convenience, security and social connections.In the hectic, fast-paced hustle and bustle of today’s world, however, the best elements of a community lifestyle are all too often minimized or even abandoned in favor of design considerations, development conveniences or financial concerns. Homebuilders and developers looking to squeeze in a few more square feet into an apartment complex or save a few dollars on the front end have at times been guilty of failing to prioritize the inclusion of those key elements that can transform a place a vibrant, energized and inclusive community.Community RenaissanceIn recent years, however, we have begun to see a reemergence of the community ethos. More and more designers, developers and community managers are beginning to exhibit a growing appreciation for the power of community living to comfort, inspire and provide a place that residents can truly call home. And more and more homebuyers – from active adults looking to find a convenient and welcoming new space, to young families and professionals in search of a great home in a community setting – are reemphasizing a sense of community as an important homebuying priority. This is a trend being driven by the realization that “community” is not just an abstract concept, but a core lifestyle value that impacts virtually every aspect of our day-to-day lives.One of the foremost design and development factors driving this community renaissance is the growing number of high quality maintenance-free Condo/Townhome-style communities that are beginning to carve out an important presence in the residential marketplace. These communities, which embody so many of the characteristics that define community living, are designed to not only readily provide the comfort, security and functional conveniences that are so important to homeowners of all ages and demographic profiles, but also the facilities and programs that promote and enhance social networks and community connections. In many ways, they are the template for the new American community.Familiar Comforts and NeighborhoodsOne significant factor that is elevating maintenance-free Condo/Townhome-style communities in the popular consciousness is a Boomer-driven move toward the kinds of nurturing, cohesive community environments that they associate with the halcyon days of their youth. For Boomers and active adults who grew up watching Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver, My Three Sons and other iconic examples of idealized American community settings, this community format satisfies an ingrained preference for the familiar comforts and welcoming neighborhoods they grew to love in their formative years.The return to community living, a movement that is also reflected in larger philosophical design evolutions such as New Urbanism and Neo-traditional development, actually represents less of a design and architectural trend and more of a cultural trend. These new communities not only offer a return to a simpler time (or at least the appearance and feel of it), but also convey a definitive and appealing sense of permanence and authenticity. Unlike the cardboard-cutout visual of high-rise condos or an endless expanse of seemingly soulless suburban row homes, maintenance-free condo/townhome-style communities provide a setting for something enduring; something real.Safety and Social ImpactAlong with that sense of permanence and cohesion another important element is safety. The sense of safety provided by secure and cohesive community surroundings, combined with the relaxing conveniences of landscaping maintenance and general community upkeep found in so many of these new developments, adds another attractive aspect to maintenance-free condo/townhome-style communities.The social impact of a well-designed community spaces can also be profound. By providing a place that not only presents multi-generational appeal and promotes a vibrant mix of ages, social groups and demographic segments, these new residential developments offer a unique mechanism to foster social interaction and strengthen community bonds. High quality maintenance-free condo/townhome-style communities frequently offer the kind of superb community facilities that help enhance those social connections. Whether it is a neighbor who takes your yoga class at the community fitness and recreation center, a friend you met on a hiking trail, or a couple you got to know at a community poolside cookout, strong social potential is an important part of the appeal of these developments. These are communities where relationships happen naturally.Compelling BenefitsBy creating true neighborhood gathering places with a powerful and defining sense of place, by providing an appealing residential environment that requires minimal upkeep and lowers the frustrating stresses of everyday life, and by offering a wide range of high quality fitness and social community facilities, maintenance-free condo/townhome-style communities are able to create a true community way of life. As a reinvigorated American public continues to embrace the compelling benefits of a community lifestyle, these exciting new developments are leading the way.
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