Aging in suburbia is not going to be like your parent’s retirement. The American suburbs are undergoing rapid change as the economy shifts from a car-centric one to things digital. Take, for example, regional shopping centers now littered with abandoned JC Penney and former big-box stores. These spaces are being repurposed for data-centers, with the likes of computer servers and network routers.
It is good omen that the vacancy rate in suburban malls can be addressed. But, is is not a fortuitous event for Baby Boomers who plan to age in their suburban homes. They anticipate that “everything will stay the same.” In Chapter Seven of my book “Aging (well) in Suburbia,” we explore the game changer: Boomers will age in a different time, even if it is in their familiar suburban place.
BTW, not so many people will be moving next door to ring the doorbell and join the neighborhood. According to a news report on the repurposed data centers, one data farm might hire about 10 people to work in a 11,000 square foot space. A previous tenant, a Target store, employed about 90 employees. The Baby Boomers have settled the suburbs, but they cannot continue to make them viable and valued destinations.