A unique town near Tokyo where three generations can live together has been attracting attention as it offers a new way to prevent communities from falling into decline because of the rapidly graying society.

The Mark Springs complex, built in Seya Ward, Yokohama, in March last year on a 5.4-hectare tract, has three condominium buildings and 90 Southern European style housing, accommodating 730 families. It also has a nursing home, clinics, day-care center, park and spa.

The average price of a 90-sq.-meter condo is about 33 million yen and a house on a 130-sq.-meter site is about 55 million yen.

Tomomi Sunaga, 28, who lives in a house with her husband, two small children and mother, enjoys the benefits of living in this new planned community. “I feel comfortable because there is a pediatric clinic nearby,” she said. Tokyo-based Orix Real Estate Corp., which developed the complex, is building another one in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture. And Osaka housing firm Soken Co. began building a similar one in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, in February.

“We aim at re-establishing the community ties that have been lost in today’s town buildings so the entire town will become one family,” Soken President Takafumi Yoshimura said.

Housing development has tended to prioritize profitability — similar houses at similar prices to attract people at similar income levels. But this has caused areas to lose their energy once their populations begin to age.

“To build a town full of energy . . . it is necessary to keep vitality by allowing people with different lifestyles and ages to live together,” said an Orix Real Estate official.

Recently built complexes contain many types of dwellings. This makes it easier for residents to move within the complexes. It also promotes community ties and keeps the elderly from becoming isolated.

“It is not uncommon overseas to build housing complexes where various generations can live together,” said Katsuhiko Suzuki, a professor at Kyoto Institute of Technology. “In Japan too, such complexes will increasingly be built in the future. The key is to create a framework for residents to have exchanges in order to develop their living areas into communities.”

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