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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Live, Work and Play Lifestyles

By Rand Stephens, Houston

Trends in real estate development that cater to people’s wants for a live, work and play lifestyle are here to stay. How these trends continue to morph is the question, but it is clear they will have dramatic impacts on the future success of anything resembling a community.

The concept of “community” is abstract, but here is one that resonates with me:

A group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action in geographical locations or settings.”

In addition to where we live, communities are also any place where people come together, like work, places of worship, health clubs, schools, entertainment venues like movie theaters, grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, etc.

So, what are the underpinnings of a successful community? What differentiates one health club from another…a corporation from another…a place to live from another?

Creating places for human connectivity, or "people places" may be the single most important factor for a community of any kind to be ultimately successful. The emotional part of the brain drives us to connect with other people because it makes us feel better; human connectivity brings happiness, pleasure and joy to people's lives, and there is plenty of research to support this.

A great example is Starbucks. Everything about their stores and product appeals to human interaction. Starbucks has created a community at the store level around the total experience, which includes a quality cup of coffee. People wait in line to buy coffee. It makes no sense; there are plenty of places to buy a comparable coffee, or to make one at home, but Starbucks has made their stores people places and not just about the coffee.

The live, work and play lifestyle at its very core is a manifestation of people wanting to be connected and interactive with others. The best real estate development provides the infrastructure to support these base level needs in all of us.

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