Wellness centers are the new golf course retirement community

For decades residential developments have been built around hobbies. There are the Southern California apartment buildings with a backyard pool, the Rocky Mountain getaways with ski-in/ski-out connections to the lifts, and perhaps most ubiquitously, the retirement communities built around them. golf courses.

Developer Brett Kaufman knows these types of amenities work to attract residents and renters. That’s why he built a new project in Columbus, Ohio with a specific lifestyle in mind. Kaufman’s project is Gravity, a mixed-use community of residences, offices, and retail with a focus on mental health and wellness. There is a transcendental meditation studio, a yoga studio, on-site mental health services, and spaces for therapy sessions. He calls it a “conscious community”.

[Photo: courtesy Gravity]

“When you think of a golf course community, there is a certain way of life that people choose. And I think that’s exactly what’s happening at Gravity,” Kaufman says. “They choose to be in an environment where there’s activity and like-minded people and a general vibe and atmosphere that they want to be a part of.”

The idea for Gravity came in part from Kaufman’s own experiences with meditation, but mostly from a frustration with the 15 years he had spent working for a major real estate developer. “I found myself quite unhappy, quite dissatisfied with my job,” he says. He started his own development company in 2011, “with the idea that I can bring the things that I was passionate about in my life into my work, and I could create a company that would attract other people who shared that desire,” says -he.

After a series of small developments in his hometown of Columbus, Kaufman began planning Gravity as the real estate embodiment of a lifestyle focused on inner connectedness and mental well-being.

The completed first phase of Gravity includes 234 rental apartments at market prices and affordable rents, 50,000 square feet of office space and 30,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor, in addition to on-site wellness facilities and an event venue that hosts speakers and festivals. .

[Photo: courtesy Gravity]

Kaufman is now expanding the project’s footprint and aims to make it a community of thousands. A $120 million phase two is under construction and will include approximately 25 additional residential units in a 12-story building, co-living options, townhouses and 185,000 square feet of additional retail space. Murals and art are integrated throughout the project. Kaufman says the retail mix will be highly curated to prioritize community-focused businesses. Current tenants include the nonprofit Roosevelt Coffeehouse, which supports efforts to end hunger, dirty water, and human trafficking. Another tenant is Pelotonia, an organization that fundraises for cancer research through bicycle races.

Outside of Gravity’s welfare-focused land, of course, is the rest of Columbus, Ohio, where the poverty rate is around 20%. Gravity is located in a downtown adjacent community called Franklinton, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. Long a working-class neighborhood, the neighborhood has struggled with vacant homes, crime and drug issues in recent years, and some residents worry that a project like Gravity could drive up prices and drive out low-income residents.

To reduce the risk of Gravity becoming a cohesive zone of yoga practitioners, Kaufman’s company has partnered with nonprofit housing developer Homeport to build a 50-unit affordable housing development on the site, which will be available to those who earn 60% of the region’s median income. . In the next phase of development, a co-living facility will have rents well below market rate, according to Kaufman.

[Photo: courtesy Gravity]

Kaufman understands that words like wellness and mindfulness appeal to a certain demographic. They may also sound like real estate buzzwords, but he insists that Gravity is a sincere effort to provide those kinds of amenities to the people of Columbus.

“When I started in the business, nobody was talking about wellness or meditation, yoga, composting and a lot of that stuff. Even art. It wasn’t really a thing in the world real estate. It’s now. And you know what, that’s a good thing,” he says. “If more people feel compelled to jump on the wellness bandwagon and do something to be competitive, so much the better.”

Gravity, Kaufman concedes, is a bit of an island in Columbus, offering lifestyle conveniences people might associate more with California than Ohio. “What we tried to do is really bring together these like-minded people, people who were doing the work down this road and bring them together in a community, that you don’t have to travel to California to experience,” he said. said. “You can have this and live in Columbus, Ohio.”

Kaufman sees the project as an alternative, a new option for the people of Columbus, and also a new way of thinking about what this type of development can do.

“We are, ultimately, about creating environments and experiences for our residents and tenants and anyone who engages in the community to be able to grow, to be able to learn, to be able to connect, to collaborate, to find ways to just feel better and maybe improve their lives,” he says.

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