The role of senior housing in Fayette’s vision
As a member of the Fayette County Visioning Steering Committee, I’ve had the opportunity to lend my voice and support to this county-wide initiative since September 2013.
During my participation in several of the focus groups and community events, I’ve heard time and time again about the growing demographic of the 55+ boomer and mature adult community, and less about housing solutions for attracting more young professionals and their families.
I believe what is needed for counties to attract growth is a commitment to town-center walkable communities.
Work/live/play communities will continue to be in demand for the future. Fayette has an advantage over other counties regarding proximity to the airport, and commercial developments, such as Pinewood Studios.
The results of the Visioning Initiative’s Competitive Assessment showed housing options in Fayette County are not appealing to a diverse array of people, and the goal should be to offer housing inventory that will support people in various stages of their lives.
The assessment further cited a 2014 Wall Street Journal article, which stated “As boomers get older, many will move out of the houses where they raised families and move into cozier apartments, condominiums and townhouses (known as multi-family units in industry argot.) A normal transition for individuals, but a huge shift in the county’s housing demand.”
As a Seniors Real Estate Specialist, I find boomers and mature adults relocating to this area continue to find Fayette County a desirable place to live. However, a closer look often reveals older dated homes with most homes in their desired price range needing repairs or upgrades.
Other homes of interest tend to be in the higher price point and not within their budgets. Oftentimes, the types of housing seniors are looking for in their price point and amenities are the same options single young professionals are looking for, or a new family with small children.
Thus, in coming up with housing options, we may need to look at mixed developments appealing to two different populations for the same reasons.
Seniors are also drawn to the various independent or assisted living communities, such as Arbor Terrace, Somerby and Hearthside, which tend to be very well maintained and convenient to amenities of interest to seniors.
Feedback from senior living communities revealed, “Fayette County should avoid allowing there to be too much of a surplus in specific senior living continuums. As of right now, Fayette County has more than enough assisted living and memory care options to accommodate our current need.”
The county does have many desirable amenities and services to include golf courses, walking paths, proximity of shopping and restaurants, amphitheaters and two Fayette Seniors Services locations (Peachtree City/Fayetteville) providing a variety of activities and education, home health options, private sitter agencies, assisted livings and memory care. Fayette County is a great place for seniors to live and most of the amenities are within a 5-mile radius.
Realtor colleagues and clients have expressed that there are not enough independent living and affordable housings options for seniors on fixed incomes or for those receiving Social Security, whether it’s single family homes in 55+ subdivisions, or multi-unit communities.
Here are features I think would be important for the 55+ community:
1. Low cost of living.
2. Near family, and proximity to airport (easy to go visit kids and grandkids).
3. Access to quality healthcare.
4. A walkable, safe community.
With careful planning, Fayette could accomplish all of these. Counties who develop these communities will thrive in the future.
Overall, boomers and mature adults are planning to stay close to home with almost two-thirds planning to stay in the same state. With the reality of our current economy, and continuing work and economic demands, proximity to employers who hire older workers may also become a compelling factor.
The good news: the Visioning Initiative has developed priorities to address the housing concerns to include, but is not limited to working with local Realtors and development groups to identify where the demand for non-single family homes is likely to occur; identify areas where such development could be feasible, and work with young professionals and Fayette Senior Services to identify price points and amenities that would increase attractiveness of new housing developments.
To schedule a visioning speaker to update a group or organization on the process or to join the email list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[The writer, Vickie Butler, is an Associate Broker and Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) with Keller Williams Realty, Atlanta Partners in Peachtree City, and V.P. of Member Services for the Fayette County Board of Realtors. Vickie has lived in Tyrone since 2001 with her husband and two sons.]