Cottage Communities for Active Seniors

Cottage Living Magazine’s Pick of Top 10 U.S. Cottage Communities

cottageliving.jpgEach year Cottage Living Magazine announces its choice of Top 10 Cottage Communities in the U.S. What a tough job that must be to actually narrow down 10 cottage community favorites among the untold number of communities that must be in the running. Reading through this year’s list of cottage communities that made the final cut, it seems Cottage Living has once again done a great job. The 10 cottage communities chosen are all very different from one another — their price tags, their housing styles, their landscapes, their age — each varying and unique. That is part of the beauty of the 2007 final Top 10. Reflecting the diversity that accompanies homebuyers’ architectural tastes, geographical preferences, and the wide-spectrum of budgets, these communities seem to have something for almost everyone. There is no mention in the Cottage Living article that any of the selected communities have been designated as age-restricted active adult communities; but since that is not always a strict prerequisite to many active adult homebuyers, these communities may certainly be worth checking out. So have a look and read about the communities that made the cut to become Cottage Living’s Top 10 Cottages of 2007.

foresthillsgardens.jpgForest Hills Gardens (Queens, New York) – Designed in the early 1900s to resemble the garden communities of England, Forest Hills Gardens, located in Queens, New York, has become a quintessential cottage community classic. With renowned architect Grosvenor Atterbury commissioned to design the community and Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr., as the landscape architect, it is no wonder that this charming community remains an architectural inspiration nearly a century later. Today there are some 660 homes, 220 townhomes, and 11 apartment buildings containing a little over six hundred units in Forest Hills Gardens. Everything about the design of this community was meant to create a feeling of homeyness, of an intimate neighborly connection – far removed from city complexities. While Forest Hills Gardens remains regarded as a quaint cottage community to this day, it is interesting to note that this community is only a short 20-minute train ride from New York City. Though perhaps less pricey than a downtown Manhattan apartment, the price for a one-bedroom apartment in Forest Hills Gardens will run somewhere in the $300,000-plus range, with many of the properties in the community commanding amounts over a million.
Ohio City (Cleveland, Ohio) – A small community just outside of Cleveland whose renovated 19th-century cottages, Victorian homes, and close-knit community garnered the attention of Cottage Living among the 2007 Top 10 Cottage Communities. Ohio City has approximately 4,000 households with a variety of price ranges starting somewhere around $200,000 for a fully renovated 1,700-square foot cottage.
daybreakutah.jpg Daybreak (Salt Lake City, Utah) – With the picturesque Oquirrh Mountains in the background and the well-stocked Oquirrh Lake beckoning for a lazy day picnic, South Jordan, Utah’s newest big community is getting lots of attention. Designed and built by Kennecott Land on property that was part of a copper mining buffer zone, Daybreak should offer a little of something for just about everyone. This is not an age-restricted community, the trees are not yet mature, but there will be lots of activities available to active adults, including walking trails, free kayak, canoe and sailboat rentals for residents, community gardens, community centers, fishing, bicycling, on-site shopping, and much more. Homes here are all energy-star rated, with about one-third of those homes currently being built expected to cost less than $300K. There should be around 14,000 homes in the community by the 2022 proposed completion date.
fieldsofstcroix.jpg Fields of St. Croix (Lake Elmo, Minnesota) – Designed by Robert Engstrom Companies, Fields of St. Croix, located in Lake Elmo, Minnesota is one of the pricier of the communities to make the Top 10. At the Fields of St. Croix, though, you just might be getting a good value for your money. Completed in 2004 and built on 241 acres, Fields of St. Croix has 113 single family homes and 12 attached single family homes. Of the 241 acres in the community, 60% of that space remains a permanent open space. Sixty percent! There is a renovated Civil War era barn that overlooks a pond and prairie below which can be used by residents for birthday parties or neighborhood meetings. There are 90 acres of preserved farmland, which is managed by resident farmers. Members paying dues may receive fresh produce harvested from this farmland throughout the growing season. There is a trail that circles the neighborhood pond and provides a habitat for area wildlife and the community water filtration system. The price of homes in this charming 115-home community begin around $500K.
chicagobungalow.jpgThe Bungalow Belt (Chicago, Illinois) – In September of 2000, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley started an initiative to rehabilitate rather than tear down and rebuild in the area of Chicago that is home to some 80,000 cottages across the "Bungalow Belt". Once a home owner has certified their bungalow with the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association, grants and other resources, including "how to" workshops, are made available to help homeowners restore their homes with modern energy efficiency and updated interiors while retaining the appeal of older bungalow’s timeless exterior. Prices of these homes will vary depending on location and home condition. Cottage Living suggests that one of these bungalows with main level living space of about 1,000-1,200 square feet and perhaps even some living area on the second floor may run in the $300K range.
edentonphillipsafter.jpgEdenton Mill Village (Edenton, North Carolina) – Once home to employees of the Edenton Cotton Mill, this newly-renovated village is becoming residence to many families who enjoy small town living, easy coastal access, and a community and home steeped in American History. The cotton mill will have 30 condos when completed, and there will be 63 restored homes. According to the Cottage Living article, "a completely restored two-bedroom cottage" might cost in the neighborhood of $300K. The Outer Banks and beach are only about a one-hour drive away, and there will be boat access to the Queen Anne Creek. An executive airport is located nearby for those pilots, business execs, or anyone interested in having small airport accessibility. Golf, fishing, sailing, tennis, antiquing, gardening, and many other activities are available for interested active adults.
highpoint.jpg High Point (Seattle, Washington) – Originally built with the temporary intention of housing industrial workers during WWII and long since neglected, High Point has emerged as a "sustainable, safe, and high-quality residential environment." When complete, High Point will offer a mix of 1,600 new homes, apartments, and townhomes on the 130 acres of land. The well-respected homebuilders involved in the redesign of this West Seattle community have made an attempt to set aside 20 acres of the land for open spaces, parks, and playgrounds. There is a pond, walking and jogging trails, mature trees, spectacular views, and an innovative rainwater draining system, part of why High Point is considered a "green" community. Many other conveniences, such as golf and a new public library are nearby. Cottage Living Magazine suggests that $300K will buy you "an 800- to 1,000-square foot condo, townhome, or carriage house."
poplarplace.gifThe Poplar Community (Boulder, Colorado) – This is a really small community, only 14 homes, but the homes are really charming and the story behind them nothing shy of storybook. Oftentimes today, with inflated real estate prices, many long-time residents in a town can no longer afford to purchase a home. In Boulder, Colorado, thanks to the efforts of Tom Lyon, John Wolff, and Matt Cohn, who once formed the not-for-profit Affordable Housing Alliance, wanted to offer those with limited means an opportunity at home ownership. These gentlemen designed a high-density cottage community with 14 homes, each of them facing a central common area. To keep the cost of the community low, each homeowner was required to contribute a minimum of 300 hours of labor to the construction of the house, something said to initiate communal camaraderie. And might I add home pride. With only 1.4 acres to contain the 14 homes and the central common area, private yards, off-street parking, and porches were smartly included in the design. The Poplar Community homes are reasonably priced at around $160,000. Restrictions placed on the resale of the properties will assure the future affordability of the homes in this community.
armory-parkdelsol.jpg Armory Park del Sol (Tucson, Arizona) – Not what you might typically think of as a cottage, Armory Park del Sol, located in Tucson, Arizona, is said to be inspired by the architecture of Armory Park, a national historic neighborhood. This community is located near the the University of Arizona campus, the Tucson Arts District, and other conveniences found in the city of Tucson. There are two parks on site, as well as a community garden and pedestrian- and bike-friendly sidewalks. One of the really neat features found on these homes is their solar panels located on the roofs of the houses, making the energy efficiency of these homes state-of-the-art. According to the builder’s web site, some of the features found to be aging friendly can also be found in these homes. Extra wide hallways, step free entryways, three-foot wide door openings, bathroom grab bars, and other features are standard in every home at Armory Park del Sol. The beauty of these colorful Southwestern cottages go beyond what meets the eye. With CAT5 and fiber optic prewiring, central vacuum and security systems, 10-inch or thicker steel reinforced raft slabs, copper water lines, and more, these cottages are built sturdy and meant to last. There will be around 99 homes in this community, with a starting price range of $373,000 for a 960-square foot home.
karinacottagecottagesquare.jpgCottage Square (Ocean Springs, Mississippi) – After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to so many homes along the Gulf Coast, many displaced families had no other choice but to move into temporary housing communities. Hoping to offer "a dignified alternative to the FEMA trailer" to those who lost so heavily during that awful storm, Marianne Cusato, a New York designer, came up with the Katrina Cottage. The cottage community which made Cottage Living’s Top 10 is a small community of 15 homes located in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. With the popularity of the Ocean Springs’ community, expect to see similar communities popping up across the country. These cottages are designed to be permanent structures that can be assembled quickly. The siding is termite and rot resistant, there is a metal 5-V crimp roof, and the specs of the cottage are designed to resemble a full scale home. Granted, these cottages don’t offer large living spaces, though it is possible to have custom add-ons for some models. If you’re looking for an affordable cottage designed to last, one of these cottages might just be the perfect solution. People are finding these cottages perfect for a vacation cabin, mountain retreat, or a guesthouse. The blueprints and materials to construct one of these cottages can be seen and purchased at Lowes. These little cottage dollhouses are just too cute and might be perfect for a senior on a limited budget wanting to remain independent. Lots of possibilities with this one.

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