Residential Community Development: Trends and Predictions for the Connecticut Market The past year has shown a substantial shift in demand for suburban residences and an uptick in home renovation projects, resulting in homeowners reevaluating their home spaces in 2021. Through a virtual panel discussion organized by New England Home Connecticut Magazine, home design and real estate professionals were brought together to discuss the effects the pandemic has had on the industry along with the innovative trends for the future of home design. In this blog, we’ll hear from the following contributors and discuss some trends and predictions for the Connecticut market. Moderator Tyra Dellacroce | Connecticut Stone Panelists Arnold Karp | Karp Associates Jeff Kaufman | JMKA architects In a November 2020 virtual panel hosted and moderated by Tyra Dellacroce of Connecticut Stone, industry professionals shared their opinions and insights on a wide range of real estate, home design, renovation, and similar topics. One question that came up during this discussion was how future residential community development might look across Connecticut, especially as it has become a greater priority for many to have easy access to shops, parks, and other amenities. Several industry professionals weighed in on this topic, providing their professional opinions and insights to the virtual panel. A Renewed Importance of Local Amenities Jeff Kaufman of JMKA Architects begins by explaining that “Despite the current pandemic, many of today’s buyers want to be in centrally located communities where there is quick and local access to amenities and attractions such as parks, hiking trails, coffee shops, and restaurants.” He explains that this demand becomes higher with a market of older buyers, as younger families with children tend to be more content staying home and enjoying their own backyard and outdoor spaces. The Challenge of Residential Development in Connecticut However, both Jeff and Arnold Karp of Karp Associates agree that Connecticut is lacking when it comes to neighborhood developments and smart design. This is often due to zoning issues, but as Arnold points out, “There is also a major lack of land available to be developed. This is particularly true in lower Fairfield County, where 97% of the land has reportedly been developed already. With very little land available to develop, there will be some inherent challenges to creating these in-demand communities for buyers throughout the state.” Arnold goes on to provide an example, where he explains that with one community development project, it took 2.5 years and more than $2 million to complete approval. As a result, it is becoming difficult to get investors and developers on-board with future projects — even with the minimal land available for development. What Will the Future Look Like? Because of an overall lack of land to develop across Connecticut, both Jeff and Arnold seem to agree that there will continue to be a greater focus on utilizing the resources that are already available to residents. Rather than having a dedicated community park, for instance, residents may need to venture a little farther out to visit their local city or state park. Likewise, any open spaces that currently exist may eventually be zoned to accommodate a demand for community development and local amenities — but only time will tell. Meanwhile, with the current pandemic keeping many people home, there will also be a greater focus on utilizing the available space. More than ever before, homeowners are spending time on their own yards and properties — and they’re creating community-like settings that are ideal for entertaining while also safely distancing. As this trend continues and evolves, there will likely be greater demand for landscape architect services and amenities like outdoor spas, swimming pools, fire pits, and the like. The Final Word on Residential Development in the CT Market While there may currently not be much land available for residential community development, particularly in lower Fairfield County, the demand for a more community-like setting remains in existing developments. As a result, both Jeff and Arnold speculate that we will continue to see these communities evolve to meet these demands whenever possible. In the meantime, homeowners will likely continue renovating their own properties to accommodate their needs and lifestyles. If you or a client is interested in updating your property or landscape, contact Connecticut Stone today.