HOUSE GRIDLOCK, BABY BOOMERS, AND WHY I LOVE WESTBROOK

WESTBROOK LIBRARY wikimedia pd

WESTBROOK LIBRARY: GORGEOUS, RIGHT?  wikimedia pd

Although the real estate market in Southern Maine is hot, it’s the kind of hot that can leave behind the odor of singed dreams. The Portland area is unique in some awesome ways. But our painful housing crunch isn’t one of them.

With approximately one trillion American Baby Boomers making a collective decision to downsize and/or flee the suburbs for a closer-knit community, the whole nation (and other parts of the world, as well) is feeling a peculiar population pinch.

Seared by the “nursing home” twilight of their elders, Boomers are determined to “age in place.” That means they’re looking for low-maintenance, stairs-free, affordable housing close enough to a yoga studio and a coffee shop that they can carry on Booming with less driving.

But this housing does not exist. It just doesn’t. Ranches are pricey to build because the expensive roof and basement are amortized across a small living area. High rises with elevators don’t exist because nobody really wants one next door. Plus, to a Boomer, “high-rise” is synonymous with “ugly-*ss box with no outdoor space and I don’t have time for elevators.”

If I had a million dollars (or ten million) I’d build a high rise condo in Westbrook. That town is affordable, it’s quickly evolving into a cool and manageable community, and a river runs through it. I love Westbrook. And my high rise would be special: Every horizontal surface would be planted or solar-paneled, and there would be a lot of horizontal surfaces. Nine-foot ceilings would banish the “flat” feeling of the old-time flat. My buildings would be carbon-neutral and cheap to own.

Did you see how that turned into plural buildings? I have big plans for Westbrook.

Want to live in my buildings, Boomers? Can you deal with an elevator? Txt me.

Good report on housing demographics here.

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