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What boomers want: Active adult communities designed just for them

January 12, 2016

What boomers want: Active adult communities designed just for them

(This article is from the Tennessean on January 9, 2016.  It was written by Bill Lewis.  Please click here to view the original article.) Patty Bellar wanted the comfort, convenience and security of a one-level home closer to her grandchildren, so she purchased a house in one of the growing number of Nashville-area communities restricted to homeowners 55 and older.

Her neighbors, from states including Illinois, Arizona and Michigan, had the same idea.

“All of us downsized to be closer to our kids and grandchildren,” said Bellar, who moved from Robertson County to the Cottages at Bent Creek subdivision in Nolensville, where Goodall Homes is building 36 homes reserved for buyers at least 55 years old.

“Any builder is smart not to ignore this market,” said Bellar.

A fast-growing market

Home builders are taking her advice and planning construction of more than 1,300 homes in age-restricted communities across the region.

A partnership of Craighead Development and Ole South, one of the area’s largest home builders, hopes to launch The Binns, a 500-home active adult community planned for 285 acres off Lebanon Road in Hermitage.

In Lebanon, 240 active adult residences are planned at Hamilton Springs, Middle Tennessee’s first mass transit subdivision, which is being developed around a depot for the Music City Star commuter train.

In Spring Hill, Del Webb is launching Southern Springs on the Maury County side of the city. The community will have 600 homes on more than 300 acres. The company previously developed the 1,000-plus-home Lake Providence community in Mt. Juliet.

“Of the 76 million baby boomers in this country, 50 percent are between the ages of 50 and 58, which makes the over-50 buyer one of the fastest-growing consumer groups. With the recent completion of our Lake Providence community, there is no active adult community to meet the housing and lifestyle needs of the active baby boomer in Tennessee,” said Jon Cherry, Del Webb’s president in the state.

Goodall Homes, the company that built Bellar’s house in the Cottages at Bent Creek, has just 10 homes left to sell in that neighborhood. This year the company expects to build an additional 30 homes at Lenox Place, an active adult community in Gallatin. Lenox Place will have a total of about 240 homes when it is full, said Chris O’Neal, the company’s chief sales officer.

“We hear a common theme from our customers,” he said. “Their children have moved out and they need something with less upkeep.”

Homes for active adults feature one-level living, no-step entries and interior doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Exterior maintenance is performed by the homeowner’s association.

Bellar said those are the features she was looking for. She’s mobile and active, but was planning ahead.

“You don’t believe there will come a day, but I just didn’t want steps,” she said.

A successful blueprint

Bill Hostettler, chief manager of Craighead Development, said Del Webb’s success at Lake Providence proves that demand is growing for active adult communities.

“We want to copy Del Webb in Mt. Juliet,” he said of plans for The Binns in Hermitage.

Nashville has a lack of housing that appeals to the active adults moving to Middle Tennessee, said Hostettler.

“They want to live near the grandkids, but it’s hard for them to find a nice home on a small lot,” he said.

The community will feature homes ranging from 1,200 to 2,500 square feet. Most will be single-level, but some may feature an upstairs bonus room. That floor plan has proven popular in other communities because the bonus area can be converted to quarters for a caregiver.

The site’s current agriculture zoning allows homes on two-acre lots. The developers are requesting a change to allow 1.75 homes per acre. More than half of the 285-acre site will be preserved as green space.

The proposed site is near the city’s Stones River Bend Park and is close to shopping and a YMCA.

The developers intend to donate several acres for expansion of adjacent Hermitage Elementary School. They will give another 40 acres to the city to extend a greenway along the Cumberland River.

“Think about getting on your bike and riding downtown,” said Hostettler. “You could ride your bike to the football game.”

Reach Bill Lewis at 615-262-5862 or wlewis77229@comcast.net.

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