The baby boom has become a senior boom — and you may have noticed a commensurate boom in housing just for them. In fact, Long Island’s 55-and-over population is growing at a rate more than six times that of the population overall, according to a 2015 report by the Long Island Index — a trend that has not gone unnoticed by real estate developers. The average housing index for 55-and-over multifamily condominiums in the U.S. rose 10 percent in 2015 compared to 2014, according to the National Association of Home Builders, and experts say Long Island has seen similar activity.
“The over-55 market is one of the largest parts of the Long Island real estate market, and has been for a number of years,” says Mitch Pally, chief executive of the Long Island Builders Institute.
Blue Point-based developer Alec Ornstein says that, in addition to the population shift, other forces have contributed to Long Island’s recent proliferation of active adult communities. For one thing, the 2008 housing crisis delayed the development of many planned communities, putting a growing list of would-be buyers on hold for several years.
“When the markets turned around, there was tremendous pent-up demand among 55-and-over buyers looking for this kind of product,” says Ornstein, a partner in Ornstein Leyton Company, and a co-chair of the board and past president of the Long Island Builders Institute. “They wanted to stay on Long Island, stay near their families, but still have the maintenance-free lifestyle this type of community offers.”
And during the approval process, age-restricted communities are an easier sell to elected officials and local residents than other types of development, because they generate tax revenue without overburdening public services, Ornstein says; they typically handle their own landscaping, trash and snow removal, and they don’t increase the number of kids in the schools.
Of course, 55-and-over is not a single demographic; it’s a sizable and open-ended age group encompassing multiple generations. That means buyers’ wish lists vary a great deal, says Diane Landau of Century 21 American Homes, a senior real estate specialist and the owner of Memories on the Move, a senior relocation service in North Bellmore.
Buyers at the younger end tend to seek amenities such as pools, spas, golf and tennis. “They like the country club atmosphere,” Landau says. But priorities shift; for older buyers, “that first call is always for a first-floor apartment,” Landau says.
But the main attraction is the same for almost every buyer in an active adult community: a more carefree lifestyle. “Everyone wants to feel like they’re on a vacation. That’s the bottom line,” Landau says.
Here is a sample of what life looks like at six new 55-and-over developments.
Village Vistas in Port Jefferson
Prices: $799,000 and up
Common charge: $295 per month
Minimum age: 55
Situated on a hilltop overlooking Port Jefferson Harbor and the Long Island Sound, this 43-unit community offers both on-site amenities and village life. When finally completed this year, the 18-acre community will feature a clubhouse, a fitness facility, an outdoor pool and a putting green. In the meantime, “Port Jefferson itself is a beautiful place to be,” says resident Harry Faulknor, 73.
“We have the train, we have the ferry, we have a beautiful theater downtown, we have the village center, which is a marvelous edifice, and the village itself,” says Faulknor, a retired teacher and principal who has lived here for two years. “We have two beaches we can go to, a country club, it’s terrific.”
In this pet-friendly community, buyers have a choice of two 2,300-square-foot townhome models, each with two bedrooms and 2 1⁄2 bathrooms, including master suites on the first and second floors. Available options include a private elevator, a third bedroom and an office area. At press time, about three-quarters of the units were sold. There are nine available units left.
Stoneleigh Woods at Riverhead
Prices: $415,000 and up
Common charge: $383 per month
Minimum age: 55
This 176-unit community features a 4,000-square-foot clubhouse with fitness facilities, billiards, indoor and outdoor bars and a heated outdoor saltwater pool, and is next to the Cherry Creek Country Club, creating ample opportunities to mingle. That’s something social empty nesters appreciate once their schedules no longer revolve around the kids, says Lynne Kleinman, a senior real estate specialist with Keller Williams. “They’re looking for the activity that leads to new friendships. . . . It creates an opportunity for a much livelier kind of life.”
The location is convenient to shopping, dining and entertainment in Riverhead’s walkable downtown — another attractive perk for buyers in this age group, who may prefer less driving, says Kleinman, an owner of a senior move management business.
The fourth and final phase of the complex has 52 units and is expected to be completed by September 2016. Two floor plans are available: the 1,972-square-foot Birch II has two bedrooms and 2½ bathrooms, while the 2,107-square-foot Aspen II has two bedrooms and three bathrooms. All homes include an energy-efficiency package and custom lighting. At press time, about 85 percent of Phase 4 units were sold.
Knickerbocker Bay Club, Port Washington
Prices: About $600,000-$3 million
Common charge: $1,000-$3,600 per month
Minimum age: 62
You’ll get a parking spot for your boat as well as your car when you buy into this 32-unit waterfront condo community, which features a private dock, boat slips and deep-water mooring on Manhasset Bay. All residents have access to a rooftop deck with a barbecue, a sitting area, a dining area and a firepit. “The rooftop deck is gorgeous,” offering views of the bay and the Manhattan skyline, says listing agent Anne Arter of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty.
But those who splurge for one of the 2,600-square-foot top-of-the-line units get something extra-special — a huge waterfront terrace all their own. “It’s the whole width of the building; the terrace has more square footage than the unit itself,” says Arter.
The complex is in the heart of vibrant Port Washington Village, so residents can walk to dining, shopping and cultural arts. Floor plans have two to three bedrooms, two to three bathrooms and one to two terraces. Additional amenities include a fitness center. At press time, the community was about two-thirds sold, with some units still available in each price range.
The Courtyards at Meadowbrook Pointe Links & Spa in Medford
Prices: $492,000 and up
Minimum age: 55
Common charge: $542 per month
Athletic amenities such as those offered at this 280-unit gated community are a popular perk for sporty seniors, says senior real estate specialist Diane Landau. This complex abuts the Mill Pond Golf Course, a four-star championship public course in the Town of Brookhaven. In addition to the 18-hole course, there’s a driving range, practice bunkers, a practice putting green, a chipping green and a pro shop.
For more fun and fitness on site, the complex offers outdoor pools, tennis courts, shuffleboard and boccie. The 7,000-square-foot clubhouse features a fitness center, a salon and spa, a casual sports bar and grand ballroom.
Models here include detached and semi-attached homes. The 76-unit third phase, known as The Courtyards, was about 85 percent sold at press time. There are still 10 market-rate homes available, and an additional 28 affordable units, known as The Villas, are available for income-qualified buyers.
The Vineyards at Blue Point
Prices: Prices start at $399,990 for a limited time
Common charge: $440 per month
Minimum age: 55
The floor plans offer unusual flexibility in this 84-unit development, the second of four phases of a 280-home complex: Ground-floor condo flats start at 1,557 square feet, and two-story town homes start at 2,020 square feet — but buyers who want extra space can gain substantial additional square footage with optional finished basements in select homes.
“That variety of space really meets a lot of needs,” says Scott D’Aloise, director of sales and marketing for the development. “Then you have the clubhouse and all the great amenities, too.”
Membership in The Vineyards Club is included for all residents. The 7,500-square-foot clubhouse features a wine room, a billiards room and club room with a bar, as well as a fitness center and on-site physical therapy and massage rooms. Outdoor recreation includes a heated pool, boccie courts, a barbecue grill and a firepit, plus a playground for grandchildren. The club plans a regular schedule of activities and events.
At press time, about 60 percent of Phase 2 units were sold.
Meadowbrook Pointe Athletic Club & Spa in Westbury
Prices: $515,000 and up
Common charge: $688 per month
Minimum age: 48 for 20 percent of the 720 units, 55 for the remaining 80 percent
When Renée and Jim Rosa of Greenvale decided to downsize, they wanted to find a home that offered proximity to New York City, the amenities and camaraderie of a 55-plus community and room for an office for Jim Rosa, a 68-year-old professor. “Meadowbrook Pointe was the best of all the worlds that we needed,” says Renée Rosa, a 67-year-old career counselor and educational adviser.
Though the Rosas are still settling in to the two-bedroom, 2 1⁄2-bathroom home they purchased here about a month ago, Renée Rosa found time to try an exercise class, and was not disappointed. “The people there are wonderful. Everybody has a smile on their face and says hello to you,” she says. “All the accouterments are of the highest level, so we’re very pleased with that.”
The complex features an assortment of condominiums, town homes and villas, and a lengthy list of amenities: a 24-hour manned gatehouse, a clubhouse with indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center, salon and spa, library, theater, cafe and tennis and boccie ball courts.
The community, which opened in 2006, is now in its final phase of development. About 95 percent of the community’s 720 units are sold out, with five units left in the final phase.
FOR SENIORS OF LIMITED MEANS
Long Island has a number of housing options specially designated for seniors on a limited income. Age, income and residency requirements vary by location, so seniors should contact their local municipality or the Long Island Housing Partnership to find out if they’re eligible for options such as affordable rentals and low-cost co-ops with reduced taxes.
Affordable housing may be available within market-rate active adult communities. For instance, the Meadowbrook Pointe Links & Spa 55-and-over community in Medford has 28 affordable two-bedroom units for sale starting at $289,000 for seniors who meet income qualifications.
— KRISTIN TAVEIRA