PRIME MAGAZINE — 29 April 2016
Adult communities add even more things to do

By Robyn A. Friedman

City & Shore PRIME

Broadway-quality shows. A grand ballroom with stage and dance floor. A world-class tennis center.

These are just a smattering of the amenities available for baby boomers at Valencia Bay, an active-adult community in Boynton Beach now under development by Sunrise-based GL Homes.

The project – GL’s ninth community on the east coast of Florida for buyers over age 55 – will feature 582 single-family homes ranging from 1,845 to more than 3,200 square feet, with standard features such as granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances, European-style cabinets and more.

But what’s equally important to buyers at GL’s projects is the lifestyle the communities offer to residents. That’s why Valencia Bay will include a 33,000-square-foot clubhouse complete with catering kitchen, a separate demonstration cooking studio, a spacious fitness center with locker rooms, steam rooms and massage rooms, billiards, a yoga/exercise room, an indoor/outdoor café and an arts-and-crafts room with kiln.

Outside there will be a world-class tennis program with six Har-Tru courts and a pro shop, six pickleball courts, basketball, a resort-style pool and winding trails with “chill zones” throughout the community. A full-time lifestyle director will coordinate trips, activities, shows and more than 100 clubs.

“The lifestyle is what active adults are looking for,” says Marcie DePlaza, division president of GL Homes, which has developed more than 7,000 active-adult homes in Florida. “Active adults are younger and healthier than ever before. They want to exercise and socialize.”

For the uninitiated, pickleball is a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. It’s played with a paddle and plastic ball on a badminton-sized court. And it’s wildly popular.

“Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports with active adults – much easier on the body than tennis,” DePlaza says. “We continue to add more courts in our new communities.”

According to the National Association of Home Builders, there will be an estimated 56.9 million 55-plus households in the United States by 2024, up from 49.2 million in 2015. These households – largely consisting of baby boomers – are an important part of the housing market, and builders are attuned to their needs and demands.

The NAHB recently released a study on the housing preferences of the boomer generation. The study was based on a nationwide survey of recent and prospective homebuyers conducted in 2015 and discusses how design and amenities influence the buying decision.

With respect to community features, the study found that:

70 percent of boomers want a suburban location.

63 percent would like to be near a park area, while 61 percent want walking or jogging trails.

More than half (53 percent) want a lake.

Few buyers (14 percent) want a golf course or tennis courts (18 percent).

Despite the demand for posh clubhouses in South Florida, on a national basis, only 32 percent of buyers want a clubhouse.

“We have everything here with the exception of a golf course,” says Ron Yuter, senior vice president of Boynton Beach-based Ansca Homes, the developer of Villaggio Reserve, an active-adult community in Delray Beach with 516 homes and prices starting from $299,000.

That includes a clubhouse, three pools, a fitness center, spa, tennis center, billiards, card rooms, ballroom, catering kitchen and outdoor living room with television and fireplace. But the most requested – and used – feature in the community, Yuter says, is an on-site restaurant.

“So many people now have one car, or bicycle or walk, and want the convenience,” he says. “Plus, with all the activities at the clubhouse, they’re here all day long, so they’ll have breakfast or lunch together.”

Community amenities evolve as builders respond to the requests and needs of their buyers.

“We check in with previous buyers to assess what they liked and what they didn’t like,” DePlaza says. “So whereas maybe four or five years ago we had a putting green, now we have pickleball. As trends change, our amenities change.”

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