One of the biggest and most consistent challenges over the years has been the process of creating a property for everyone, taking into consideration individual levels of need, resources and dozens of other variables. We don’t all live in the same type of communities or homes, so what makes us think that individuals with special needs should?
Consider the budding development of a market for senior housing some 50 years ago here in the Valley, when Del Webb broke ground on Sun City—the first and only retirement option for seniors at the time. Fast forward to present day and the many choices available to seniors, including locations, price points, amenities and services, as well as a focus on vital health and mobility issues. Today’s seniors also have the opportunity to repurpose their careers and pursue a plethora of hobbies and interests.
That’s the kind of marketplace we need to develop for special populations. We also need to recognize that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution and that understanding the needs of each market is critical to success for both the developers and those they serve. While real estate is an important component, how a property lives, breathes and connects to the broader community is equally important and cannot be overlooked in the short- and long-term planning process.
For the last 20-plus years, we’ve been building a supportive community in Phoenix through the hard work and dedication of the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), the Arizona Autism Coalition—and First Place AZ, added to the mix in 2012.
As you determine your vision and who you’re serving, remember this powerful word: attainable. Focus on what is attainable today by learning more lessons, attracting more attention, and building your reputation and brand. A realistic approach takes time and patience, but the outcome—knowing and meeting the specific needs of your market—is worth the wait.
Please join us to continue the conversation and share many more lessons at this fall’s First Place Global Leadership Institute Symposium, October 24-26. There’s still much to learn from each other and so much more we can do and build by working together!