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American Trend Toward Apartment Living

Older New Zealanders Expected To Follow American Trend Toward Apartment Living

Papamoa East developers expect the new Modena Beach Town Centre to follow US trends, with greater numbers of older people living right in the heart of town.

Bluehaven Holdings is developing a large area, 20km south of Mount Maunganui, which will be home to the urban centre, Modena Beach.

Project spokesperson Darrell Carlin says the Modena Beach urban centre will be unlike any shopping area in New Zealand.

"Modena Beach will be a true urban centre with up to six storeys of apartment living above the ground floor shopping centres," Carlin says.

"A large city square will provide the central point of the urban development. There will be shops fronting on to the square, creating area and atmosphere similar to that of the famous squares of Europe. We expect up to 6000 people will live directly above or surrounding the urban centre"

Carlin says at first it was envisioned the urban apartments would mostly appeal to younger people, however after a research trip to America, opinions were changed.

"In the US there is a growing trend for older people to move from the suburbs into urban areas.

"As people get older they often lose their driving license, meaning those living in the suburbs become reliant on public transport, taxis, friends or families. They will generally make just one trip into town every week or fortnight and have to visit the supermarket, post office, bank, shopping centres and doctors all in one day."

Carlin says those living in urban apartments can get in the elevator and arrive right in the heart of the urban environment only a short walk to supermarkets, medical centres and other general amenities.

He says the research trip showed older Americans are not only benefiting health-wise, but also socially from apartment living.

"If you get in a taxi and head to the central city, most of the day is spent scurrying from one task to the next. The Americans have found by walking to their local amenities they meet far more people, because they have the time to take a few extra minutes to chat or sit down at their local café."

Carlin says apartment living also appeals to older people because it's easier to lock the door and go away for long periods of time.

"Many older people want to spend time away from home, either travelling the world or spending time with family. Apartment living means there are no lawns to worry about, a reduced chance of break-ins and people will be around your home at all times.

"We now believe Modena Beach Town Centre could be an ideal place for older residents to live. They will be able to live independently – with out living alone - in a vibrant, safe community."

"It will be interesting to observe if the American trends flow through to Papamoa East," he says.

Bluehaven has started talking to retailers interested in establishing within the Modena Beach town centre and it appears they are already aware of the American experience where retailers benefit from having shoppers living right on – and above – their doorstep.

Tauranga City Council is currently undergoing a plan change process, with public notification expected in June.

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