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Seniors Housing: Boomers are Flying in Richmond, VA

Richmond Homepage: Real Estate Homepage

Sunday, May 30, 2004

America's baby boomer population will have a major impact on the housing industry in the next six years.

In 2010 the boomers start hitting age 65, and by 2030 more than 70 million people will be over the age of 65. That is 20 percent of the country's overall population.

And today's baby boomers have the highest median net worth of any age group in the history of the United States, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging. In response to projected demands in retirement housing, savvy developers and builders are planning for new age-restricted neighborhoods, and many retirement communities are expanding their facilities.

Trend to downsize it

Downsizing is often the first step many seniors take when making the decision to move out of their family home. Braxton, Cobblestone, CrossRidge and Summerhill at Stony Point are just a few of the Richmond-area age-restricted communities that offer single-family homes, condominiums or town homes. While there must be someone 55+ in the home, no one under the age of 18 can live in the community.

"Everyone is getting in on the baby boomer building now. But for us, CrossRidge was an opportunity that presented itself at the same time the momentum was fueling and the baby boomers were arriving, so it was really fortunate timing," said Bud Oley, president of Eagle Construction, the developer and builder of CrossRidge, which opened in November 2001. (Info: 756-6100)

This 55+, gated community in Henrico County offers 11 twoand three-bedroom floor plans in low-maintenance duplexes, town homes and single-family homes. Prices run from $218,595 to $225,550 with sizes from 1,750 to 2,398 square feet.

One of their biggest amenities is a 10,000-square-foot pavilion with an indoor pool, game room, celebration room, exercise room, tennis courts and newly completed outdoor pool.

Oley says initially the company focused on building the pavilion and marketing their attached products, thinking they would undersell their detached products.

While the detached units proved popular, the company was surprised at how well the attached units were received. They thought there might be some stigma associated with the attached units, so they put added attention to the details of those units. "We must have done a really good job, because our most dense product is going to be the first product to sell out."

The original plan for CrossRidge included a 527-unit development, but it has now expanded to 668 units. "And there is still some more expansion for the future," said Oley. "Our timeline isto be virtually complete by the latter part of 2006 with what is currently planned. Then the aging of the baby boomer population is going to hit right in time for CrossRidge II."

Age-restricted communities

U.S. Homes Corporation is jumping on the baby boomer bandwagon with the development of Colonial Heritage, an age-restricted golf community in Williamsburg. The 695-acre gated community that is still seeking permits and regulatory approvals will have 2,000 low-maintenance homes in four housing styles, some with basements.

The Executive Collection will be detached homes ranging from 1,900 to 2,000 square feet. Standard features include hardwood foyers, porches, oversize kitchens with center islands. Other detached home plans include the single-story Garden Collection that ranges from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet. The attached homes include the one- and two-story Carriage Collection (1,200 to 1,350 square feet) and the Villas Collection (1,340 to 1,800 square feet) both with two-car garages facing the street. (Info: 757 229-5205)

Amenities for Colonial Heritage will center on the 170-acre 18-hole Arthur Hills championship golf course. The Heritage Clubhouse will be approximately 25,000 square feet with a grand ballroom, full-service restaurant, library, craft room, billiards room and woodworking shop.

The Athletic Club will be approximately 8,500 square feet, including an indoor pool. It will also have an outdoor pool, exercise room, pro shop, men and women's locker rooms and snack bar. There will be four tennis courts and 180 acres of open area with 3.5 miles of pathways for walking and biking.

Assisted living communities

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) are another housing option for those baby boomers who are no longer interested in home ownership and who would like the availability of long-term health care and assisted living care without leaving the community.

Richmond has a wide variety of places, including Westminster Canterbury, Hermitage at Cedarfield, Lakewood Manor and Brandermill Woods, which offer a variety of housing options, including apartments, cottages and duplexes. Many have waiting lists. Some are working on expansions or plans to expand to provide for future needs.

"Without a doubt the sector of people retiring is one of the fastest growing segments of our country," said Harry W. Baldwin, administrator of health services for Lakewood Manor on Lauderdale Road, which has five apartment buildings with 251 independent-living apartments and 42 assisted-living apartments and is licensed for 110 nursing home beds in its health-care center. Planning is under way to expand the community to accommodate 80 to 90 more residents.

"We are planning for a broader range of products to meet the needs and desires of the American public," said Baldwin. He hopes to have an announcement on the project by the end of the year. Preliminary plans include building cottages and villas, smaller apartment buildings, a new assisted-living section and a new health-care center with single-occupancy rooms.

Lakewood Manor has a fitness center, bank, beauty shop, convenience store and a voting precinct; all meals are provided.

"We are a microcosm of society. In some ways we are as large as some small towns in the state of Virginia," said Baldwin. "One of the things we do is work hard to keep the comfortable lifestyle that we are known for, and we will be enhancing that through the additional apartments with a continuation of that comfort and nice lifestyle with the health-care security."

Senior apartments popular

Senior apartment living is another housing option for baby boomers who are not interested in a facility with long-term health care. While some are totally for independent living, others have special services; some have assisted-living apartments and some even have wings for special care such as Alzheimer's.

Some senior apartments in Richmond include The Commons at Ridgedale, Parham Park Place, Imperial Plaza, The Guardian Place, The Virginian and Beaufont Towers.

Aspen Gayton Terrace on Gayton Road is a small senior apartment complex built in 1987. The V-shaped building is four stories with 100 apartments.

"Most of our residents move in independently and if and when they need the assisted-living services the service goes right to them. So it is all mixed together and they do not have to change apartments if and when they need assisted living," said Janet Broughton, executive director of Aspen Gayton Terrace. The facility also offers weekly housekeeping and activities both in and out of the building.

"We do weekly trips to the grocery store, drug store and banking and take people to their doctor's appointments. We also have three meals a day, but each apartment has a full kitchen."

Although they do not focus on being a full nursing care apartment complex, Aspen Gayton Terrace does have a full nursing staff available for those who may need it. Units have pull cords in all bedrooms and bathrooms that go to a desk that is monitored 24 hours a day.

"The basic needs we meet are what most people need and they do not need the nursing services," said Broughton adding that residents only pay for the services they need.

"Our big push is not the assisted living. That is a service that is here so people can stay here longer and hopefully stay here forever. We are not a nursing home, but most people do not need that; it is only a small percentage. Once they have their activities of daily living taken care of like transportation, housekeeping and meals most do just fine being independent."

There are nearly 28,000 independent-living communities across the United States and more than 85,000 assisted-living communities, according to the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing and Care Industry.

Tom Henley of Aspen Retirement Corp., which owns Aspen Gayton Terrace, says, "The need for growth in the senior housing industry is approaching what could be called a critical stage."


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