Schmit & Associates
By Jim Harris
The baby boomer and millennial generations would seem to not have very much in common. But when it comes to what many members of either generation are looking for in a new home, they share more commonalities than many people might think.
Both generations – the two largest in the United States in terms of population – are drawn to similar types of housing, albeit for different reasons.
“These are two generations that are moving into different parts of their lifecycles, but both are now drawn to connected, urban-based environments with amenities that you can easily walk to,” says Dave Schmit, founder of Schmit + Associates, a Roswell, Ga.-based master developer.
Schmit’s home market in the Atlanta region reflects a nationwide shift from the traditional single-family suburban developments the boomers helped to fuel beginning in the 1960s to mixed-use developments.
These developments tend to be in three surroundings: large metropolitan areas such as Atlanta’s Midtown; the central business districts and downtown areas of smaller towns surrounding larger cities, such as Roswell or Alpharetta, Ga.; or close to transit centers such as train stations. Such transit centers may be located in a large city, small town or elsewhere.
“There is an effort to create more compact designs around transit stations with housing, retail and entertainment, instead of using aparking garage as a connection hub,” Schmit says. Cities and developers are creating new environments that harken back to the days before cars where the pedestrian experience is the priority.”
Millennials are drawn to developments in major urban areas, while similar multifamily developments in outlying areas are popular with boomers. “Central city developments are catering to millennials because that’s where the jobs are, while boomers are either heading to retirement or are in their late stages of working, but are instead driven by lifestyle purposes,” he adds, noting that the baby boomers moving into single family or multifamily developments are also “empty nesters” who are downsizing their homes.
Developers and cities in the Atlanta region and elsewhere are actively partnering to provide multifamily developments to both target generations. “A good dialogue and understanding between the public and private sectors gives us an opportunity to deliver on a great solution to a community’s needs,” Schmit says.
Ideally, new developments need to be economically viable to the developer while also being desirable to the community. “It’s incumbent upon us that we have an ongoing dialogue with the cities we work in on how to deliver that,” he adds.
In his role with Schmit + Associates, Schmit works closely with mayors, city councils and other public officials to develop master plans and secure zoning and other entitlements on properties his company has purchased. The company partners with residential and commercial developers that then build and market properties.
A few of the company’s most recent projects exemplify the region’s trend toward walkable and amenity-rich communities. Schmit + Associates recently partnered with Monte Hewett Homes to developer Forrest Commons, a 22-lot community of detached villas and townhomes in downtown Roswell. The community is located off a main street in the town, but is designed so the homes face a central park in the middle of the development instead of onto the street.
“Residents can walk out of the doors facing each other,” Schmit says. “This is an example of how design can create a high level of interactivity, as opposed to a typical single-family suburban neighborhood, where you are more isolated.”
Schmit + Associates is also the master developer on the Assembly community in Doraville, Ga., located on a 165-acre former General Motors assembly plant.
The company is partnering with Integral Development on the project, which will include housing, retail, office, arts and other uses centered on a transit station. “This site represents an incredible opportunity to bring together various transit systems that can connect to the broader Atlanta Metro region,” Schmit + Associates says.