Will you be living in a lakefront NORC?

The New York Times recently focused on the changes that changing demographics have wrought in some Upper West Side buildings:

When the co-op conversion wave began in New York City in the 1960s, singles and young married couples flocked to the Upper West Side hoping to get a piece of the action. Some of those people, now in their 70s, are still there, cemented in place by apartments bought for a song or equally treasured rent-stabilized units.

As the neighborhood’s population has grayed, some apartment houses have morphed into what social scientists call NORCs — naturally occurring retirement communities.

Chicago doesn’t have rent-stabilized apartments, but it does have quite a few high-rise condos fronting Lake Shore Drive, Marine Drive and Sheridan Road that were “bought for a song” in the 70s and are now occupied by significant numbers of the elderly.

Many people, young and old alike, would prefer not to live in a building where the majority of the population is elderly. Realtors are barred by fair housing laws from discussing the demographics of a building, even when they’re familiar with them – which they frequently aren’t. If you’re aged-averse, this is a subject you’ll need to explore on your own, at the risk of finding yourself living in a NORC.

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