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Baby Boomers changing the nature of active adult

by Debra Gelbart on Feb 6, 2015

Some active adults want to live in an intimate community that is completely separate from other communities, while others like the idea of living in or near a larger all-ages community. Fortunately, there are a lot more lifestyle choices today than there were just a few years ago.

Connected communities

Two new active adult communities — both located inside larger master-planned communities — are opening soon on opposite sides of the Valley. Victory at Verrado, which celebrates its grand opening this month, is integrated into the master-planned community of Verrado in Buckeye. Meanwhile, in March, AV Homes’ Encore at Eastmark debuts its model homes in the all-ages master-planned community of Eastmark in East Mesa.

“These concepts are wildly different from the model of an active adult community that back then was almost always set apart from the larger community,” said Nick Taratsas, senior vice president and general manager of DMB Associates, the developer of Verrado and Victory at Verrado. “More of today’s active adults want to be near their grandkids and want to continue to be connected to friends, family and the community.” Victory, he said, is “highly porous. There is no gate distinguishing Victory from Verrado and Victory residents have access to Verrado’s amenities.” 

Chris Cady, Arizona division president of AV Homes, agreed, adding that they’re finding that today’s active adult buyers specifically look for multigenerational communities. “But they also want to be able to retreat to their own exclusive and private space,” he said.

In 2006, Sun City Festival opened in Buckeye in a location with “significant development potential for the future,” said Jacque Petroulakis of PulteGroup, whose Del Webb Homes division developed the community. Because all-ages Festival Foothills opened nearby about six months after Sun City Festival opened, Sun City Festival residents have the opportunity to volunteer and tutor in local schools and in the greater community, Petroulakis said.

With multigenerational living in mind, the Del Webb community of Sun City Anthem at Merrill Ranch (located in Florence) was designed alongside Parkside, PulteGroup’s adjacent all-ages community. That’s because extended families want to live near each other, Petroulakis said. “There are also more multigenerational families living under one roof,” she said, “so today’s home designs cater to that trend, with flexible options for extra bedrooms, dual masters and larger living spaces in the kitchen and family room.”

Another example is Trilogy at Encanterra. Encanterra is an all-ages master-planned community in San Tan Valley that offers only homes built by Shea Homes. Shea Homes offers active lifestyle communities (primarily for the active-adult 55-plus market) called “Trilogy” within Encanterra as well as within Vistancia, an all-ages master-planned community in North Peoria that features a number of additional builders. Trilogy at Wickenburg Ranch, an all-ages resort community that also will offer select 55-plus neighborhoods, opens this month.

Numerous choices

Victory at Verrado will be the first active adult community in Arizona that offers homes from multiple builders. At Victory, buyers can choose home plans from four homebuilders: Lennar Homes, Maracay Homes, Standard Pacific Homes and T.W. Lewis by David Weekley Homes. In Phase I, 406 homesites are available, Taratsas said. By the end of this year an additional 388 lots will be available.

“We think it’s an advantage not only for buyers but for the builders to have more than one builder in Victory,” said Andy Warren, president of Maracay Homes. “Competition results in a better product and better choices for the consumer.”

When Encore in Eastmark opens to the public next month, 905 homesites will be available, Cady said. Four different series of homes will cater to varying consumer tastes and needs. Several years ago, Cady said, a substantial percentage of active adult buyers were winter visitors. Now, an increasing number are year-round residents who want to be closer to their grandchildren. 

What’s important

No matter which type of active adult community you choose, “your approach to deciding has to be methodical or you may miss something important to you,” said Steve Soriano, executive vice president of Robson Resort Communities, developer of active adult communities Robson Ranch in Pinal County and PebbleCreek in Goodyear. Soriano recommends several considerations.

“There should be at least 100 different activities and clubs to choose from in the community you select,” Soriano, of AV Homes, said. Grocery and department stores should be located within 10 minutes of the community, he said, and ideally, the community should be located within an hour of a major airport and from arts and entertainment venues important to you. A major medical center should be situated no more than 15 minutes away, he advised. “If medical care is farther away than that, your needs won’t be met as you age in place,” he said.

You should also make sure the amenities offered are those that are important to you, Soriano said, whether it’s hiking and biking trails, pickleball, bocce ball courts, a fitness center, an indoor lap pool or an art studio.

Gorgeous views

Research and focus groups have confirmed that Baby Boomers especially appreciate the outdoors. Gorgeous scenic views are often among the hallmarks of an active adult community, such as the desert and mountain views that surround Victory at Verrado in Buckeye and CantaMia, an AV Homes active adult community located inside the all-ages master-planned community of Estrella in Goodyear.

Located in the town of Maricopa, Province is Meritage Home’s flagship active adult community; it currently has almost 1,800 residents and several years of future development are planned. “In Province, we offer homesites with water views, which is getting rarer in Arizona,” said Jeff Grobstein, Meritage Homes’ division president. CantaMia in Estrella offers lakefront lots as well, Cady said.

Health-related amenities

Hiking trails, walking paths and bike paths are among the most important amenities for Boomers living in or contemplating moving to an active adult community, DMB’s Taratsas said. 

“The path and trail systems at Victory have evolved into an entire brand,” Taratsas said. “What’s called the Avid Trails™ system has been scientifically engineered for hikers and walkers of all levels, with graded paths and trails similar to ski slopes.”

At AV Homes’ Encore at Eastmark, a spacious lifestyle center is exclusive to the active adult community, but residents also will have access to Eastmark’s all-ages community facilities including a resort pool, a fitness center, tennis and pickleball courts, a café and more.

At CantaMia, AV Homes responded to resident input and is adding a dog park and more pickleball courts instead of the originally planned softball complex, Cady said. 

At Province in Maricopa, lakes, greenbelts and trail systems are prominently featured and residents can enjoy indoor lap swimming and are able to choose from among 100 different clubs and activities. Banner Health Center in Maricopa is only a mile from the community, Grobstein said.

In addition to a fitness center, four pools (one for laps, one for lounging, one for pool activities and one for therapeutic use) and a huge clubhouse with a public spa and restaurant, other amenities at Victory at Verrado include fruit and vegetable gardens plus a vineyard.

“In about five years, Victory residents will be crushing grapes and the community will be producing its own wine,” Taratsas said.

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