Jill P. Capuzzo describes the shift in consumer demand for different amenities in homes targeted for the 55+ market, and how loosening age and cost limitations have helped such developments survive in a segment hit especially hard by the downturn.
When developing housing for senior citizens, second-floor bedrooms and basketball courts are rather atypical. In New Jersey, South Brunswick's Villagio, a 55+ housing development, provides these amenities in addition to other attractive conveniences including better aesthetics, more affordability, and less strict age requirements to meet the changing needs of active senior citizens. This is a far cry from what similar types of communities looked like several years ago.
"There's been an evolution in the health and conditions of families." said Tim Touhey, president of the New Jersey Builders Association. "Some 55 and older are still working and want office space," he said. "Some may have adult children living at home. They want more variety and choice. And the development community is driven by what the market wants."
Other changes include easing up on strict age and cost requirements for "adult" communities. "Working with South Brunswick planning officials, Touhey was granted a variance allowing that only one person in the home must be older than 55, while others can be as young as 19. Jeri Gaita, Villagio's marketing specialist, estimates that 25 percent of its residents have had their grown children living with them at one time or another."