In a past life, I headed up health and wellness initiatives at Colorado schools. I raised over $1M to support more movement in schools and classrooms, access to nutritious snacks and lunches, and increased mental health programming in hundreds of schools statewide. Wellness in schools remains a passion of mine, and I’m always interested in learning more about what a healthy school environment looks like for my active boys.
What does this have anything to do with real estate, you might ask? When it comes to finding a neighborhood that’s a perfect fit, many often look at schools, walkability and proximity to retail establishments, and parks, trails and open space. Now it seems that homebuyers also value access to healthy food. It’s a trend-setting, recent urban development- one that I’m really excited about!
According to a new study from the Urban Land Institute (ULI), communities that offer healthy food, in the form of community gardens, farmer’s markets or other amenities, are highly desirable.
New developments are now incorporating healthy eating into their business plans. The ULI’s “America in 2015” national survey shows that 73% of U.S. residents consider access to fresh, healthy foods to be a high or top priority.
Denver is working on keeping up with this emerging trend- ULI’s study highlighted several Denver Metro developments including one close to the Regis neighborhood called Aria Denver. I was excited to learn about this development and help a client buy a condo here this year. Construction will be complete sometime in May.
The development offers co-housing opportunities and will feature a 1.25 acre production garden, a greenhouse, and community kitchen. Cultivate Health is a partnership among Regis University, Aria Denver and the surrounding neighborhoods whose goal is to support health and wellness of residents. The partnership will create infrastructure and programming to promote an active lifestyle, increase access to healthy food and integrated health care services. Cultivate Health describes it as a “holistic approach to real estate development and community building.”
Another example is Mariposa, a mixed-income housing redevelopment project southwest of downtown Denver nestled a couple blocks west of the Santa Fe Arts District. Residents can enjoy access to community gardens and outdoor play spaces, an on-site café (Osage Café) offering healthy cooking classes and affordable meals prepared by local youth through the Youth Culinary Academy. Weekly farmer’s markets will also be available through a partnership with the Denver Botanic Gardens.
“The synergy between food and real estate is becoming increasingly evident,” said ULI Senior Vice President Rachel MacCleery. “Just as food plays a key role in social interaction and creating a sense of community, real estate plays a significant role in shaping how people access and experience food.”
It’s inspiring to see my two passions intersect- real estate and wellness!