“I lived in that neighborhood most of my life,” says Barbara. “Those are my old stomping grounds.”
Luckily, they found just the right place at Loretto Club, a project of home builder Pulte Homes. “We had our eye on this property,” says Randall.
Their new home will have a first floor master bedroom, so they don’t have to climb stairs. The community will handle exterior maintenance such as mowing the grass and shoveling the snow.
“I think you’ll see more of these developments popping up,” says Randall. “It’s a nice concept.”
Homebuilders understand that baby boomers are starting to retire and many are looking to downsize to new, hassle-free homes. They’re not necessarily looking to move full-time to the Sun Belt either. They want to stay near their family, social networks and health care providers.
So-called age-targeted projects, including those restricted to residents age 55 or older, are being developed in the suburbs. New condominiums and townhomes are available in the city as well.
In fact, new home starts in age-targeted projects were up 27.7 percent last year, according to Metrostudy, a Rosemont-based firm that tracks home building in the greater Chicago area. “We anticipate age-targeted development will continue to grow as a percentage of the new home market through 2020,” says Mark Gianopulos, director, Midwest Region, Metrostudy.
Pulte has several other projects with homes for empty nesters. The Residences at the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens in north suburban Vernon Hills offers several home styles, including a ranch plan, and a design with a first-floor master bedroom. Carrington Club by Pulte in southwest suburban Willowbrook offers two ranch plans and two designs with a first-floor master bedroom. Ashwood Crossing of Naperville is age restricted and offers duplexes and single-family ranch plans.
Ashcroft Place is a new neighborhood by West Point Builders in the Ashcroft master-planned community in southwest suburban Oswego. Like many new developments for all ages, Ashcroft Place includes ranch plans designed for empty nesters. Buyers can select a single-level townhome or one with a downstairs master bedroom. Two single-family ranch plans are also available.
“Empty nesters are flocking to the community,” says Pat Curran, president of West Point Builders in Hinsdale. He adds that older buyers may be opting for less space than they had in their old homes, but they are customizing their new homes with lots of upscale amenities, such as the latest appliances and special flooring. “They know what they want, and they want nice things,” says Curran.
Don and Vicky Strumillo are moving downtown Chicago to Renelle on the River, a 50-unit luxury condominium building by Belgravia Group. They have a big house in southwest suburban Burr Ridge where they raised their children. “We have a lot of rooms and grounds that we don’t need,” says Don. “We’re ready to sell our house.”
The couple decided to move downtown after they spent five summers as renters in different Chicago neighborhoods. They finally decided they liked the idea of living downtown on the Chicago River. “It’s the center of activity,” says Don.
Empty nesters don’t necessarily have to move to the city to enjoy a downtown experience. Stafford Place is a new development in downtown west suburban Warrenville. “It’s tucked away, but in the middle of it all,” says Christy Whelan, director of sales at Airhart Construction, the developer.
Stafford Place is next to the Warrenville Public Library and just a one block walk to the Warrenville Park District recreation center. The Illinois Prairie Path, a network of outdoor trails, is across the street.
The development features several different single-family home styles. First-floor master bedroom and ranch plans are available. Two of the neighborhoods in Stafford Place provide yard maintenance and snow removal.
All price points
Prices of newly constructed age-targeted homes vary widely, depending on location, size and finishes. For example, home prices start at $1.1 million at Westleigh Farm in Lake Forest, a project of North Shore Builders. All of the single-family homes are ranches and include universal design features. Outdoor maintenance is included.
The historic property, formerly King Country Estate, said to be inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” will include a renovated club house designed by famed architect David Adler.
The average base price of detached age-targeted homes was $329,000 at the end of 2017, according to Metrostudy. The average price for attached units, such as townhomes and duplexes, was $215,000.
Home prices start at about $272,000 at Regency at Bowes Creek Country Club, a golf course development in Elgin by Toll Brothers. The Regency neighborhood is age restricted and includes its own club house, swimming pool and tennis court. Toll Brothers has a similar project in the northwest suburbs, Regency at the Woods of South Barrington.
Two ranch designs have been introduced at the portion of Bowes Creek that welcomes all ages. The homes are designed for buyers who want a bigger yard. The homes also have a three-car garage and a full basement.
“There’s been a steady influx of empty-nester buyers visiting us at the Bowes Creek Country Club,” says Holly Sulayman, sales manager at the project. “Right-sizing means something different to everyone.”
Homebuilder Lennar has three new age-restricted communities underway in the northwest suburbs: Andare at Remington Pointe North in Volo (86 homes); Andare at Woodlore Estates in Crystal Lake (100 homes); and Andare at Glenloch in Algonquin (143 homes).
“These communities offer beautiful amenities,” says Kevin Johnson, Chicago Division President at Lennar.
The property in Algonquin has two lakes and walking trails. The other communities have open spaces and wooded parks. Each community has a club house, patio areas for entertainment, and bocce ball and pickle ball courts. Model homes are open at the Volo and Algonquin projects.
“These communities are in high demand,” says Johnson. “Customers are looking for a neighborhood to live with people who share common interests.”