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Real Estate and Home Guide — The Altamont Enterprise, May 20, 2010

Seniors living in local condo communities say they’ve downsized into a luxury-resort lifestyle

By Anne Hayden

Five years ago in Altamont, residents older than 54 had limited options if they were looking to downsize without moving out of their communities.

All that has changed in the last four years as several developers have built or are building communities in New Scotland and Guilderland catering to middle-aged and elderly residents who maintain an active lifestyle.

It began in 2006, when Troy Miller of CM Fox built Creekside Manor, a development of condominiums in Altamont specifically for seniors. Miller said the units sold quickly.

“This type of housing is successful because it makes sense,” said Miller. He said a lot of “empty nesters” want to downsize, and look for housing that is maintenance-free.

“People don’t want to mow their lawns anymore, or shovel the driveway,” Miller said. Most senior housing developments charge residents an annual maintenance fee for the care of the properties.

Don Snyder, who, along with his wife, Anne, used to own a 2,800-square-foot home in Altamont, purchased one of the condos in Creekside Manor, across from the village post office on Park Street. At 1,100 square feet, it is less than half the size of their previous house.

“We didn’t want a big house, because we didn’t want the upkeep or expense. The condo is the perfect size for us,” said Snyder, a retired teacher and soccer coach. The unit has a galley-style kitchen, a combination living and dining area, one full bathroom, one bedroom, and a utility room that doubles as an office.

“It’s ideal because it is located right in the center of the village, and it’s nice to have people our age that we can relate to coming in and out,” Snyder said. Along with the other residents in the development, Snyder said he has been able to do some community gardening. He also is known to walk less than a block to the village gazebo to play the trumpet for appreciative listeners in the park.

Miller said the purpose of the senior housing developments is to make sure the older residents can still live in the community when they are unable to maintain a large house. Since Creekside Manor was such a success four years ago, several other senior housing developments have cropped up in the surrounding areas.

Real estate agent Donna Greenwood, of Greenwood Realty, said she thinks senior housing is a strong market and will continue to be strong for a long time, as long as units are affordable.

“It’s just perfect for older people who want to maintain their independence. It develops a wonderful sense of community,” said Greenwood.

Miller has another development in Voorheesville called Severson Manor, with nine units, each with two bedrooms and one-and-a-half bathrooms, slightly larger than the units in Creekside Manor. He plans to build another development, Severson Two, behind the first one.

The units in the Voorheesville developments sell for just under $180,000; the price point for Creekside Manor is $165,000. The units in Severson are slightly larger and have garages.

Developer Jeff Thomas built Brandle Meadows just outside the village of Altamont, across from the Altamont fairgrounds, and has two more developments in the planning stages, in Berne and in Guilderland off of Western Avenue. The Michaels Group has plans to build a development, called Mill Hill, in Guilderland off of Route 146.

According to Miller, the market is still strong for senior housing, although it has dipped a bit along with all other real estate in the recent economic recession. Creekside Manor is completely full, and seven out of nine units in Severson have been bought; the other two served as the models and have not been for sale as long as the others, he said.

Thomas said that 70 percent of the condos in Brandle Meadows have been sold, and 50 percent already have people living in them. Brandle Meadows has units in four different sizes, ranging from 1,320 square feet, to 1,850 square feet. Every condo, regardless of size, has two bedrooms and two private decks. The minimum cost for a unit in Brandle Meadows right now is $209,900, and the maximum cost is $279,900.

Included in the roughly 15 acres that make up Brandle Meadows are a nature trail, community gardens, a pond with two fountains, a gazebo, and a clubhouse.

Residents Jim and Sandi Andi, who moved into a Brandle Meadows condo 14 months ago, said they feel as if they are living in a luxury resort.

“Sometimes you look out the window and wonder when you’ll have to leave and go home — and then you remember that you are home!” said Mrs. Andi. She said she and her husband sold their four-bedroom Guilderland home to move to Brandle Meadows when she lost her job, and financial reasons led the couple to downsize.

“We fell in love with it during our first few weeks here. We love the sense of community, and the friends we have made,” Mrs. Andi said. The biggest benefit to living in a condo community is the maintenance-free lifestyle, according to the Andis.

“We look out the window and see people raking and bagging leaves and we say, ‘Hey let’s go to the movies!’” said Mrs. Andi. She said she and her husband were concerned at first about missing their privacy, but that it has never been an issue at Brandle Meadows.

“We never hear any of our neighbors, and you don’t even so much as hear a toilet flush,” she said.

Snyder, on the other hand, said he thought senior community living might not be for everyone, because some sounds did travel. He said he was able to hear the neighbors upstairs and next door, and that, while it didn’t bother him, it might bother others.

“It’s perfect for us,” Snyder said.

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