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Twin Cities apartment developers add ‘entertainment suites’ to woo downsizing boomers

When Mike Green’s youngest son went off to college, he swapped a five-bedroom house in Excelsior for a suburban apartment that’s about a third as big. Still, he managed to wedge his dining table into the space, but not his leather sectional.

“It was humongous and looked really silly in here,” Green said. “So I sold that and got smaller furniture.”

Downsizing hasn’t stopped him from hosting his annual Thanksgiving celebration at his Hopkins apartment building, where he recently reserved an “entertainment suite” with a fully outfitted kitchen, table for 12 and a generous couch perched in front of a fireplace and big-screen TV.

“There was a place for people to watch football, a place to play board games and then a prep and serving area,” said Green. “And I didn’t have 15 people packed into my three-bedroom apartment.”

Twin Cities developers are luring baby boomers and empty nesters from their suburban homes by offering decked-out gathering spaces with fully outfitted kitchens and dining tables big enough for the whole family.

“Grandpa can even fall asleep on the sofa if he wants,” said Kelly Doran, a Twin Cities-based developer who has embraced the trend full-throttle.

Such spaces, he says, are aimed at providing elements of the homes those empty nesters are leaving behind, including one of the most important: A dining room table, which often gets left behind in the move.

“In a lot of cases that’s the center of family get-togethers,” said Doran. “But a dining room might only get used two to three times a year.”

The lack of a full-size dining room, which is rare in most new apartments, is “the last resistance” when it comes to persuading people to downsize, he said.

Doran and others hope that dedicated entertaining spaces will appease longtime suburban homeowners

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