Simply stated, our goal was to explore ways that would allow those with lesser means to age with grace and dignity. Part of the solution was to provide a variety of housing types that would support a mix of economic income levels and physical capabilities. The other part was to create spaces that allow relationships to flourish. The key to that will be to draw together a variety of services and activities that will encourage both community and security for those living in the new structures as well as many seniors who continue to live in their own homes in the surrounding neighborhoods. There were several key elements that shaped our solution.
The site was originally used as a car-station for the city's streetcars. That, in combination with the concerns of local residents over security, led us to determine it would provide a greater sense of security for the seniors if the public transportation could be integrated onto the site.
The first step was to incorporate "affordable" independent housing on the southeast corner of the site, possibly as a replacement for a public housing mid-rise tower a block away. The building in the center would house the assisted living component and the structure on the northeast corner would provide market-rate independent living for residents 55 or older. These three buildings would be tied together on the first floor by a mix of community services and retail. The west side of the site would be used for a co-housing component for families that would reflect the scale and character of the surrounding neighborhood.
Community Services and Retail
Community services, including a wellness clinic, municipal offices, a public sub-station and a dining/kitchen for a senior meal site are located off the main entry, In addition, other community activity spaces and a Head Start center are located on the first floor of the north building. The first floor of the "affordable" housing building is dedicated to retail and resident-centered entrepreneurial uses.
The third component was the concept of the internal "pedestrian" street. This was incorporated for a variety of reasons including security, service delivery and possible public transit use. The curvilinear nature of the street was done to soften the look of the interior spaces as well as slow down the limited traffic. The street also promotes the notion of "no back doors" to keep the interior of the development safe and readily observed by other residents.
The end product has the potential to be a community with a population of more than 180 residents representing a rich diversity of age, culture and economic standing. In theory, one could easily age in place as parents could raise children, live as empty nesters in the mid-rise building and receive end of life care in the assisted living building.