D.C. Hill wanted to develop a 120-acre agricultural parcel set among the rolling hills of Piedmont, VA. A zoning amendment on the parcel allowed for a senior care facility.
Hill knew he could get approval for a nursing home without much difficulty. He also knew that a nursing home was of little interest to the older citizens of this rural community. As one county resident put it, “I have seen nursing homes and funeral homes around here, but I am not ready for that.”
Instead, Hill’s plan was to develop an age-exclusive community for the 55-plus market that would feature a mix of housing types — condominiums, attached villas and detached cottage homes. I worked with him during the planning and approval process.
A Lifestyle Component Centered on Universal Design
Rural preservation and environmental quality are major concerns in Fauquier County, so a site plan was created that preserved 85% of the 120-acre parcel. The plan for the new community, Suffield Meadows, also included a lifestyle amenity component centered on universal design that featured a gardening focus, provided security and maintenance for the home owners and supported continued independence and dignity.
We introduced the concept of universal design to county residents at several town meetings, and through the Suffield Meadows Web site and a widely distributed newsletter. Through our outreach, we explained that the development’s well-designed houses would be able to support people who might need care assistance in the future, but who wanted to continue to live in their own homes.
Answering a Desire to Stay — and Move — Brings Community Support
Many seniors want to stay — and move. That is, they want to stay in their community, yet they realize that their needs have changed and their homes are becoming too much for them as they grow older. By introducing them to universal design, they were able to see that moving into a universal design home in the proposed community would keep them safe and independent — and in their neighborhood.
As expected, the zoning board ruled against the project. A few weeks later, however, Suffield Meadows supporters showed up in record numbers at the county council meeting to speak in favor of the project. The citizens loved Suffield Meadows and the concept of universal design and became a strong and vocal force for approval. After hearing from its citizens, the council unanimously approved the plan.
Not only did the developer receive the zoning required to build the community, he also found that many of these same boosters anxiously were waiting for the product to be available.
Louis Tenenbaum is a Potomac, MD-based Independent Living Strategist, consultant, trainer and speaker who specializes in aging-in-place and universal design. He also is a member of the NAHB Seniors Housing Council. Tenenbaum can be reached at 301-983-0131 or via e-mail. Information also is available on his Web site at www.louistenenbaum.com.
Attend the 2005 Seniors Housing Symposium in Metro Washington, D.C. Area
Learn more about the fastest-growing segment of the housing market. Plan to attend Building for Boomers & Beyond: Seniors Housing Symposium 2005, the premier educational and networking event for industry professionals serving the burgeoning 50+ market. For more information, click here.
'Boomers on the Horizon' Available at BuilderBooks.com
Capitalize on the niches, needs and opportunities of the rapidly growing 55+ market by learning their preferences in "Boomers on the Horizon: Housing Preferences of the 55+ Market", available at BuilderBooks.com. This book depicts boomers who are on the verge of drastically changing the building industry. To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665 to order.
[ Go to Top ]