Civic institutions can infuse places with an academic and cultural atmosphere adding an attractive dimension for homeowners who are fortunate enough to live in close proximity — both in lifestyle and in property values. For those communities that are able to figure out how to provide this type of atmosphere — an increasingly difficult feat in most places where post-war planning regulations made the mixing of civic and residential obsolete — it can result in great benefits to all involved.
Fortunately, for those who own homes in Seaside, the Lyceum was planned with exactly this type of atmosphere in mind. While the vision for Phase 1 of the Seaside Academic Village is modest, its outcome can be similar to the positioning of a university close to a major town or city. As stated in “College Towns: High Marks for Lifestyle,” written by Michael Scott in New Geography:
“Universities have long served as incubators for fresh thinking and new research. They also provide a solid economic base for area residents, allowing college towns to hold the distinction as areas of low unemployment. The economic activity trickles down into the host city, influencing the ethos of its civic life, from outdoor leisure pursuits to the performing arts.”
It makes sense that the same could work for Seaside. An influx of high-level thinkers and dedicated college students clustered together for weeks at a time is bound to reap productive results. These visitors will most likely find themselves invited guests to smaller dinners and cocktail parties in homes around town where their thoughts can be shared with others who can add to the stimulating conversation and may have the financial resources to help further projects that could otherwise be left on the table as just another very good idea. As programming grows, and the town becomes known for being a place where critical discussions are formed leading to successful real-world results, others will clamor to attend.
It is not too much of a stretch to think that this type of success could result in an increase in year-round residential occupancy, an increase in rental percentages, and an increase in overall economic success.
Also, evidence shows that seniors flock to this type of environment and the demographics suggest that this will come increasingly so as the baby boomers reach retirement. From the same article referenced above:
“According to Tom Wetzel, founder and president of the Retirement Living Information Center in Redding, Connecticut, the development of retirement communities near colleges and universities is a trend that is gaining momentum nationally. ‘Our information suggests that learning opportunities, as well as cultural, entertainment and sporting events, are attracting growing numbers of seniors’ to university cities,’ says Wetzel. ‘These seniors tend to be intellectually curious.’”
Civic institutions, such as the proposed academic village, serve as vibrant centers to a town and can provide a place where partnerships between academia, private individuals, businesses, students and the community can reap great rewards for all.