The role of senior housing in Fayette’s vision

Vickie Butler's picture

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.

Visit to stay up to date on the process and to access important process documents. Join the ongoing online discussions at

To schedule a visioning speaker to update a group or organization on the process or to join the email list, email

[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.]

loanarranger707's picture
Joined: 10/14/2006
Sullivan comment unfair

To attack the blog’s author because she is in the real estate business and specializes in seniors housing is neither fair nor bright. Sure, her living is connected to real estate for seniors, but that’s how and why she has developed her expertise. It is possible to be completely impartial when talking about things one knows nothing about, like her critics do, but there is nothing to be gained from ignorant critical rants. Thus I encourage Vickie Butler to keep providing her views on the subjects she is knowledgeable about and interested in, and to ignore the nattering nabobs of negativism who haunt these blogs. (Former US Vice President Spiro Agnew, who served under Nixon, was accused of corruption and then resigned in a plea deal, was the first to denounce nattering nabobs of negativism.)

NeilSullivan's picture
Joined: 10/08/2008
Loanarranger - Comment both fair and balanced

I appreciated Ms. Butler's opinion and participation. What I also did was state that she has a perspective. Her focus is on the 55+ community and shockingly she stated we needed items to support that group. Ok that's fine. She should keep saying what she thinks. We all should.

I have never hid my perspective as a father to a 10 YO and huband to a Fayette County teacher. I blog here under my own name with my thoughts, warts and all. We all need to be giving honest feedback if we want this product to represent more than the agendas of the few.

My problem is the cross current from the "visioing" people. They seemed to start with answers then ask questions to support their agenda. We have seen before we need more young people, therefore we need multifamily housing. Now we need more 55+ so we need more multifamily housing. The one thing this committee seems to agree on is multifamily housing.

I submit before we need a town center, village green or cardboard box we need jobs. Then we need housing near the jobs, affordable to those with the jobs. ATL is an hour away on a good day. It is a long commute and people who work there are less likely to move to Fayette for Ms. Butler's Town Center and then drive an hour each way.

Also please realize Agnew resigned for not reporting "income" in a plea deal. Insider accused of taking money in exchange for influence. Is that what you want us thinking of Ms. Butler and Visioning?

Take Care,


Citizen Bob
Citizen Bob's picture
Joined: 05/06/2010
Where we are

Quite honestly, I don't frequent the blogs very often. When I did recently, I saw several issues that are addressed in the current visioning FAQs (see last paragraph) and a couple that were not. So…

Per schedule, the Fayette visioning initiative has developed a competitive assessment, drafts of the visioning statement and major focus areas, and an accompanying draft implementation plan. That’s been accomplished over six months with public input from ten focus groups, in-depth interviews, feedback from presentations to PTOs, civic, & service organizations, comments at the Sandy Creek HS event, and ideas submitted on line.

Volunteers on the 40-member Steering Committee continue to provide additional ideas and thoughtful critiques during and between meetings. The timeline that the Steering Committee established with our consulting partner is on schedule to approve the vision & implementation plan on June 10, 2014.
We're anticipating another public event in July to hear citizens' comments on the project, and can do "tune-ups" as necessary.

The Committee has been frugal and the process has received tremendous support from the community, such as gratis & reduced rates on meeting spaces and refreshments, and literally thousands of dollars worth of staff time from the Fayette Chamber of Commerce- saving anticipated part time visioning employee expenses.

Monthly Revenue & Expense reports are posted to the web site for public inspection; most entries are obvious, a few may not be. The digital age now allows instant audience polling through a monthly subscription to “PollEverywhere” software. It’s been used to collect real time audience priorities on our overall direction as well as more detailed question through their smart phones, tablets, or laptops.

The balance of non-government vs. government sourcing is now about 70% - 30%, showing a clear commitment by the community at large.

While sizeable contributions from major companies would be a financial benefit, they would immediately generate distracting conjectures we’d like to avoid. We’ve purposely treaded lightly in this area.

We’re very mindful of the 30% participation by taxpayers, and recognize that those dollars could always be spent on other important current needs. The matter of investing in those needs and for planning calls for balance- our governments cannot budget too much to either account. Better planning nine years ago could have saved the price of two elementary schools- and saving literally millions of dollars.

The Steering Committee projects additional future expenses to explain & promote the vision, goals, & objectives throughout the county, coordinate efforts to accomplish those goals & their many associated objectives (we anticipate the need for a part time assistant), and possible per-task consultations with Market Street Services.

Like most involved citizens, I too wish that more people would participate in the processes of governance and community improvement. Absent that, those who choose to actively participate shall make the best decisions we can

The next major chapter in the process is implementation; some objectives will be relatively short term and others will no doubt span several years (as did the hospital project when Fayette undertook a similar visioning project in 1988).

That’ll be an “all hands on deck” endeavor, so let us know (through the Chamber) how you’d like to participate.

Co-chair Trey Ragsdale, other Steering Committee members, or I are always available to speak with your group and respond to any question. Simply book a speaker through the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce. In the meantime, read the FAQs here:

NeilSullivan's picture
Joined: 10/08/2008
Citizen Bob - Thanks and Questions


First thanks for coming out and interacting with the unwashed here on the blogs. I beleieve it is important that your team reach everyone where ever you can. I know from experience it is not always fun but is necessary in doing what is right.

I agree with you on planning, especially with schools. I am curious. What does Market Street say about Fayette school population in 5 years, 10 years? Will your team offer alternatives that may influence these numbers? I say this because myself and some friends have just finished a second pass at a regression analysis of school population in the next 5 years suggests much lower population in the future inclusive of a possible closures and redistricting in the next 3 -4 years.

Also, now that your group has taken public cash, will you follow the Sunshine Law and other statutes for good use of public money?

Once this vision document is complete do you consider it a draft for public comment or do you consider it final except for tweeks.

Again, thank you for your service and good luck.


Good luck to your team

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012
Mr. Ross, the Fayette Vision update

If you want us to believe that a leader of the Fayette Tea Party is not monitoring the blogs, your either off your meds or think we're all fools. The FAQ's was updated this week, as many of us check to see the Vision status on a weekly basis.

While it's true, the vision committee are unpayed volunteers, they are all dues paying members of the COC, or recruited /appointed by the Chamber of Commerce. Community volunteers are usually the everyday folks without business or political ties who want to help the community. You remember those people who came out in March to ask questions and were stopped due to an arbitrary time limit. The people not invited to the collaborative meetings. What we don't understand is your relationship. I don't think you are a member of the COC, or if you are, weren't a member before this started. The only thing that ties you to this group is your relationship to the current BOC. (All Tea Party Members). So I will ask the pink elephant in the room, are you representing and reporting to the BOC?

If the group wanted public participation, it would have asked for it. There are many non chamber members who would enjoy being involved. There are a number of retirees, business professionals, housewives and husbands who could be assets, but were never asked to volunteer. The chamber is a singular group designed to help each other become more successful. With this financial success, they can then give back to the community. And while they should have a seat at the table, it should not be up to them to shape the direction of the community. That belongs to everyone. Soliciting public money from the cities, county, BOE, should have come early in the process, and each entity, should have had an opportunity to solicit citizens for participation. It just looks like the group needs financial help to finish the project and they are begging for money. I've been saying for weeks, that if you need the cash, hit up Pinewood. They just got land and a facility built on bonds with substantial tax breaks. I think this private company can afford and would like to give back to the community, like the Cathy family and Chick-fil-a. Or are you like many of us unwashed, an can't get thru the security gate?

Fayette county is a wonderful community with a lot of good people who want to participate, give back, and help shape the future. The absence is due to the lack of soliciting the public up front. A poorly designed and hard to use mindmixer, doesn't say get involved. It frustrates me and many others, so much so, that we don't participate as much as we would like.

Barring vacation plans, I'm sure you will have an audience come July. As we see what the agenda brings. Inexpensive young family and or senior housing options, mixed use facilities, an art center, innovation center, a downtown center, mass transit, infrastucture changes, ect.. It will be at this time or shortly thereafter where we can see the true agenda.

Hope to see you tomorrow at city hall to pay our respects to those who died for our freedom.

G35 Dude
G35 Dude's picture
Joined: 02/15/2006
H&F and Mr Ross

Soliciting public money from the cities, county, BOE, should have come early in the process, and each entity, should have had an opportunity to solicit citizens for participation.

Soliciting money from government entities that are taxpayer funded should never have happened. How long have we heard the BOE cry the blues about money? Parents that want their child's report cards mailed home over the summer have to provide self addressed, stamped envelops. Employees that want their checks mailed home have to do the same. Teachers still come out of pocket to buy supplies for their students while making less today than 5 years ago. Yet the BOE has money to donate? That is forced donation. The taxpayers had no choice in paying their taxes. And had no say in donating this money!!! For these reasons I won't be a supporter of the Fayette Vision either by donation or effort.

suggarfoot's picture
Joined: 10/10/2007
Agree this should never happen

"Soliciting money from government entities that are taxpayer funded should never have happened."

I wonder who, and why these donations were made. This is smelling of special interest parading in sheep's clothing.

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012
Strange bedfellows

They should not be soliciting from our local government, unless it is sponsored by the government. That's the strange bedfellows. Market St. lists Fayette County as their client. Not Fayette Vision or the Fayette Chamber of Commerce. Do any of you really think Market St. would do all this work without the county guaranteeing payment if Vision didn't raise the cash?

Mr. Ross is one of the puppet masters (godfather), of the 5 Tea Party Commissioners. I never knew he had such a strong relationship with the COC, that they would elect him chair. At least to me, the vision is a front for the COC and BOC who want to decide what is best for the county following the landing of Pinewood.

There are so many businesses that can donate. Pinewood and Group 6 both did fairly in regard to the funding of this venture. Hit them up.

I always said there is something not quite right with this group. And it's going to come out soon.

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012
Back to the old?

The vision folks had a great letter last week. The writer showed a need along, identified speed bumps and had clear and reasonable solutions. This week we're back to the old push for a town center and a push for mature adult housing options.

In order to have a live, work, play area, you first have to bring in the work. Build it and they will come is great in the movies . But in real life, people come only if there is a job waiting for them.

Propose some ideas? Where can we place a town center with multi family homes? Didn't this idea get run off close to downtown Fayetteville late last year? Peachtree City isn't designed for this. Tyrone? Possibly? South Fayette? Maybe if designed properly.

The author stated an advantage is our close proximity to the airport and this is true. But please explain to me how Pinewood is advantageous to seniors?

The author also had quotations from people she spoke to regarding the city's and county's need to avoid more assisted living or memory care facilities. This isn't the job of government or the Vision folks. Leave that to the developers who study the demographics and build based on their studies of future need.

As for facilities for seniors on a budget, I say why not? But didn't PTC try hard not to allow this recently?

Bring in multi family housing, a live, work, play area and we bring in added traffic which a majority of our roads have a hard time handling. Or bring in public transportation which we all know is not the most wanted idea in this county .

Vision needs to understand that blue and white collar careers are the backbone of a community. Entrepreneurs can then utilize their ideas and skills needed to keep make people want to stay here. Once the vision folks understand the basics of business 101, regarding supply and demand, the better off the county will be.

NeilSullivan's picture
Joined: 10/08/2008
H&F what should be visioning is actually agenda-ing

While I agree that last week's letter was a great example of visioning, this letter is a better example of well, honesty. The Realtor tells us that she is a Senior Living Specialist and then tells us we need spiffy new senior housing for her to sell and then she can also list the older housing nobody wants because it needs repairs.

I thought we clearly heard at the one open meeting that we knew of (she talks in the plural as we unwashed get only one show meeting) the surveys tell us we need more housing options for YOUNGER people. Now appearantly they don't, but who really knows what the 1% or so of Fayette County voters really said.

Recently on facebook a group of people took to trying to name what their "Seaside north" like thing would be called. They seemed to need the word village in the name. Unfortunately, after reading this missive above I have the theme from "The Villages" in Florida stuck in my head. Do we want to be a community that focuses on seniors?

What are we trying to do? How do we know it? As I stated above, the total participants to date are less than 1% of the total registered voters of Fayette County. Of that, how many don't live in Fayette County, are children, are not even citizens of the US, or duplicates? The more I consider the data the more I think shananigans.

There is too much evidence the sample is skewed. We need truth and transparency.

Take Care


Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012
You are right Neil

The writer was honest. She's a salesperson specializing with seniors. She didn't come out and say, build multi-family for seniors and I will stuff my pockets, but we can all read between the lines.

We do need younger families. Everyone can see that. In my development, you can clearly see the change. Those who have raised families are starting to move out and younger families are moving in and updating. That's a positive sign and one in which we need to work towards. Changing our zoning to recruit 20 somethings are not a smart investment. There is just not enough activities to lure this age bracket besides those young folks who grew up here and want to stay.

The vision should be to bring in careers. Blue and white collar careers that allow people to live in the community. Once we get this, then people will come.

For years FC had specific zoning that rarely changed. That was the lure for many including myself. When I come home from work downtown, I don't want the hassle of traffic or waiting in lines for a seat at a table. Times change, I understand that, and now would be a great time to discuss those changes with our local government, not our COC who only want what's good for them. Where can we designate office, warehouse, industrial, and retail? What do we need to do about transportation? Then decide if multi family will work in specific areas based on good planning.

No one wanted multi family close to downtown Fayetteville a few months ago. I don't blame them one bit.

Good planning and infrastructure will lure business. When this occurs, the market will then dictate the need for new housing, old age care, ect...

We don't need an agenda pushed on us by the COC when the other 99% doesn't have a seat at the table.