Mark Juleen has learned that sometimes the key to discovering what people want happens by accident.

Juleen and the team at Carmel, Ind.-based J.C. Hart Co. stumbled on an attractive layout that had Baby Boomers flocking to a local development called The Legacy Towns and Flats.

“One of the things we kind of just started experimenting with was doing more townhome, two-story type of units attached to your more traditional garden-style building,” Juleen, the company's vice president of marketing, says. “What we’ve found is those are catering to the older renters, the Baby Boomer type, that are looking to not have a home any longer."

The design was so successful at enticing Boomers from the local Indianapolis area, the company decided to develop additional phases of townhome-like units at the Carmel community. The design was also carried over and expanded to other properties, including a new development in Fishers, Ind. called The District at Saxony. That community boasts 17 floorplans from one-bedroom up to three-bedroom units, offering a mix of one, two and three levels.

Empty-Nesters often have to give things up when they move into an apartment from a house. So as the company began to design these units, they added features to appeal to the former homeowners.

“I think the two levels make it feel like a home you might own,” Juleen says. “And the attached garage is a nice amenity too.”

Some of the attached garages also have a bonus room for additional space. Both communities are prime locations for families and empty nesters, Juleen says. Carmel and Fishers are part of the Indianapolis metropolitan area and considered suburban to the city.

And while the distance from the large metro area may make a difference in what kind of design a property will take on, the proximity to retail and entertainment slants the unit mix to smaller floorplans geared toward Millennials.

“Carmel has catered to more families or empty-nester groups,” Juleen says. “But we also have another project in Carmel and we designed it more like traditional flats because it’s located next to a brewery. There’s a sandwich shop around the corner and we’ve seen that primarily be a younger audience there.”

Lindsay Machak is an Associate Editor for Multifamily Executive. Connect with her on Twitter @LMachak.