Coffee Hour with Beat

One of my favorite parts of building towns, is being able to visit the local businesses and interacting with the residents. Just the other day I was at Nature’s Fuel in Downtown Avalon Park Orlando and the young lady working at the Avalon Park store told me that she was born in Avalon Park! To me the groundbreaking of Avalon Park Orlando in 1998 feels like it was just yesterday. The young lady continued to tell me that her family has lived all her life in Avalon Park. She has lived, learned, worked and played, and continues to do so for the past 2 decades. Another recent interaction electronically when we received an e-mail from a young couple living in Avalon Park. It was a special note where the couple told us that they met while at Avalon Middle School as students and now, a decade later, they not only live in Avalon Park, but both teach in Avalon Park schools. Their parents moved to Avalon Park 20 years ago, still live in Avalon Park and now, the newly married have decided as well to live in Avalon Park.

These stories are just a couple examples where there are families who have 3 generations living in Avalon Park: Grandparents, Parents and Kids.

My passion for creating towns where generations can live together stemmed from my story, growing up in Switzerland. My grandparents, who have passed away, owned a farm in eastern Switzerland. One of my dad’s brothers took over the farm, and now one of his sons is farming there. My parents, who are now in their 80’s are still living at the same home I grew up in. Multiple generations all living close by. There is power in a young child being able to hear about the life lessons a senior has to offer. There is joy in seeing a senior delighting in the laughter of a grandchild or youthful neighbor. While there are “feel good” benefits to intergenerational communities, there are also sustainability and longevity for those communities.

During our first homeowner association meeting in 1999 I was asked to describe in my own words the vision of Avalon Park. At a time when Avalon Park had 50 homes, Alafaya Trail was a 2 lane road from Waterford Lakes, Avalon Park Boulevard ended at Founder’s Square and there was no Innovation Way, my answer was simple: Live, Learn, Work and Play. I told the group of first homeowners that the goal was to be in a position as soon as possible where you could satisfy all your needs in Avalon Park without ever having to leave. Now, 20 years later, I know that we have achieved that goal in Avalon Park Orlando, as there have been times when somebody stops me and tells me they have not left Avalon Park for 3 months. Being able to meet the needs of the residents in Avalon Park Orlando was a goal that we sought out to meet and were able to make it come true. The same vision holds true for our communities in Wesley Chapel, Tavares and Daytona Beach. While our vision remains to create sustainable “Live, Learn, Work & Play” communities, in order to reach that vision, we set goals that allow homeowners to grow their families and establish roots.

I believe a healthy community is where all generations can live and interact together. When planning Avalon Park we wanted to ensure that all of your basic needs could be met in your own neighborhood. You could be born in Avalon Park, go to pre-school, elementary school, middle school, high school, Vocational Tech Center in Avalon Park or College up the street, find a home to live in any size and price, rent or own. And also, that you could find a job in Avalon Park, shop, dine, join a Church, a social service club or any other community organization. And that you could also establish sense of place for your family through all of these, but also by building traditions at the holiday festivals and creating life-long friendships at neighborhood get-togethers.

When you build roots in a community, you care, and you are involved. I love our many quadruple stakeholders, they live in Avalon Park, as real estate owners or tenants, have children in an AP school, work or own a business in AP, and spend time in AP, dining, shopping and attending cultural events. People are looking for a sense of belonging and safety. When your entire family, for several generations lives here, you belong. When it is not just your home, but as well your children’s school, your job or business, your favorite restaurant or store, all within walking or biking distance you are much more involved. You pay more attention and if something is not right you get involved to find a solution. You have a vested interest to constantly work on the best community in central Florida.

It was always my dream, that grandparents, parents, and children could live together or at least be within walking distance from each other. In a true intergenerational community Grandpa may pick up a grandkid at school, while their parents are at work, and spend some quality time with their grandkids.

Now that fortunately kids can go back into school, we want to make sure all ages stay connected. For example, at Encore our Assisted Living Community in Avalon Park, school children interact with the residents. Kids from all ages, starting at pre-K are able to spend time with seniors, some that are well over 90 years old. These relationships are just a part of the realization of a healthy community, where you can, Live, Learn, Work and Play.

The ultimate sustainable community is where all generations can live in harmony.

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Beat Kahli

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Investment into sitEX Properties Holding AG, a publicly traded Swiss real estate development company with activities in Northwest Switzerland, Central Florida and Texas. Largest shareholder. Top performing publicly traded company in Switzerland with a 10-yr IRR of 19.4%.