In my original post on this subject, I wrote some suggestions for economic development in the Western Nevada County. One of those three legged stool suggestions, which was original articulated by my friend George Rebane, was:
Leg Three: Create a Brentwood of the Foothills and entice as many wealthy retired folks as possible. We have the climate, the recreation, the restaurants, and the arts that these retires desire, but lack the infrastructure to meet the needs of these wealthy retires.
Now fast forward to an article by Americas foremost social geographer Joel Kotkin writing in Forbes: Where Are The Boomers Headed? Not Back To The City
According to Kotkin, the return of the boomer to the city is an urban legend. Gushing stories in both the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal about the boomer return urban life was based on data from a real estate brokerage Redfin. Good maybe for the real estate industry, but the study was seriously flawed, if not flat out wrong, according to the Census Data. Kotkin:
Indeed, our number-crunching shows that rather than flocking into cities, there were roughly a million fewer boomers in 2010 within a five-mile radius of the centers of the nation’s 51 largest metro areas compared to a decade earlier … with more expensive, denser cities like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose, Calif., saw the worst boomer flight, suffering double-digit percentage losses.
More on the story is HERE, but the bottom line is at the end of the article:
For real estate developers and investors, the ones often most entranced by the “back to the city” story, the lessons are very clear. It makes more sense to follow the numbers, and understand the logic of senior migration, than swallow the snake oil so many have been carelessly imbibing. There are great opportunities in the expanding senior market, including in some uniquely attractive urban districts, but the bigger plays are in outlying areas, and, increasingly, smaller towns.
The towns in Nevada County could be one of those small destination towns, but first our leaders have to get off their collective butts and decide if the community wants to attract these wealthy boomers and build the amenities that they would expect to find in a safer, quieter and affordable community in the foothills.
Boomers account for some 70% of the country’s disposable income, and their spending decisions will shake markets around the country.
Apparently the folks in Placer County got Kotkin’s message, as they are building shopping centers, senior housing and medical facilities.
Why is it that Nevada County is incapable of reading the demographic trends and preparing to leverage our local assets, other than we lack the political will and the leadership necessary to create our version of a Brentwood in the Foothills.