Why developers are offering ‘experiences’ to attract suburbanites

Why developers are offering ‘experiences’ to attract suburbanites

Katherine Shaver of The Washington Post just wrote about the Pike District, suburban urbanism, and mixed-use developments in a must-read article. The first part is below.  Visit The Washington Post to read the entire article.

The new Strathmore Square being planned for Montgomery County will have all the markings of an urban-suburban development: upscale apartments in mid- and high-rise buildings and perhaps office space or a hotel — all at a Metro Red Line station.

More striking is what it won’t have: The usual slew of well-known chain stores and restaurants. No Gap or Anthropologie. Not even a Starbucks.

Instead, the ground floor of the new buildings in North Bethesda will have performance space and classrooms for lectures or music and dance classes. At the center will be a 1.2-acre “civic green” with an amphitheater.

Any stores or restaurants will be small and locally owned. The emphasis, the developers say, will be on helping residents and visitors connect over the arts and nature, not shopping and eating.

“Our goal,” said Ron Kaplan, of Fivesquares Development, “is to capi­tal­ize on amenities to create experiences.”

It’s the latest buzzword among developers seeking to transform automobile-centric inner suburbs into walkable urban hubs. Increasingly, offerings of “experience” are replacing “vibrancy” as a way to appeal to suburbanites.

(L-R) Leona Parker, Jonathan (18 months) Parker, and his dad Jonathan Parker, who live in the Pike and Rose neighborhood, enjoy a brief “snowfall” during the “Let it Snow” event where snow was being made at the Pike and Rose neighborhood in Rockville, Md., Dec. 22, 2018. Developers say providing such “experiences” for residents make communities more attractive. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)

The shift has occurred as the bricks-and-mortar stores intended to help provide that vibrancy and “sense of place” in compact, mixed-use developments — places where residents can easily walk between work, shopping and entertainment — continue to suffer from online shopping.

Developers say they’re also tapping into a market hungry for social connection, especially among suburbanites isolated in cars. They cite studies showing that people in general feel lonelier, particularly as social media and working from home have increasingly replaced personal interactions.

Read the rest of the article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/why-developers-are-offering-experiences-to-attract-suburbanites/2019/01/03/02f7f490-031f-11e9-b6a9-0aa5c2fcc9e4_story.html?utm_term=.9363eac1b482&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

Amy Ginsburg


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