Phasing Out Age-Restricted Properties

55-and-over communities are becoming less and less popular.


At the turn of this century, there was a fad among developers: 55-and-over developments. With the population aging, the market boomed, cresting in about 2004.

Then, it dropped off. Now, experts contend that there is almost no market for 55-and-over developments, with several developers asking for towns to drop the restriction in their zoning regulations.

“There was a small window for that market,” Farmington developer Mark Steiner told Patch in an earlier interview. “And it just isn’t there anymore.”

The 55-and-older age restriction mandates that residents must be at least 55 years old to buy a property in that zoning area.


The problem is that the market is so narrow, according to Brian Miller, a former town planner and now a consultant on economic development. Miller said the average age for people who buy into that type of community is over 70, and it is becoming less and less popular to live in communities where everybody is the same age.

Eden Harbour in Old Saybrook is one example of a fairly new age-restricted condominium development.

Several developers have since asked for the restriction to be written out of town’s zonings regulations. In the town of Waterford for example, there are regulations for 55-and-over communities, have asked for the 55-and-over restriction to be removed.

“Changing times and trends have shown locally and nationally that age-restricted communities are often not in the best interest of the community, and in this case the regulation does not serve Waterford’s long term planning needs,” wrote Matt Berger, a New London lawyer representing a developer who wanted the regulation lifted, in a letter to the Waterford Planning and Zoning Commission.

alan kravitz July 15, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I ,personally, would not want to live in an age restricted development unless it was a realatively small component of a mixed-age community. I believe that this approach gained favor as a form of fiscal zoning designed to avoid the costs associated with school-age children. All too often the developments were not only age restricted but also located in isolated areas far removed from the needs of everyday living. Many were too big and all to freqently were not designed in a manner which took into account the changing needs of target households. In many ways, the rapidly growing group of aging baby boomers now seem to want many of the same things as young housholds: walking communities with some urban ammenties, smaller dwelling units, and more usable public open space. It is probably time to seriously reexamine our zoning regulations with respect to 55+ developments and the general issue of the current shift in demographics and housing preferences.
Sunny July 16, 2012 at 09:40 AM
Alan, I do live in a 55+ community and personally recommend it. Perfect solution for empty nesters wanting to down size to a designed home to accomondate our new life style.. Average age is 63 years old here. And, if you did any research as we did before building in this age restricted community, you'd know how incorrect your statements are. As you are a member of the Planning&Zoning, please, better familiarize yourself with these communities. Thanks.
alan kravitz July 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM
I am 55+ myself, live "next door" to a 55+ community where I have several friends and have visited many others. I have read a good deal of the literature on alternate forms of life-cycle housing both domestic and foreign but am, by no means an expert. What I was trying to suggest in my response was the need for a carefull examination of what works and what does't from the perspective of residents, developers and municipalities. I don't see the question as black and white and acknowledge that 55+ communities do work for a segment of the population. Let's get more people involved in this important discussion: we need to learn more about housing choices for all segments of the rapidly growing 55+ population cohort. I have been working with friends in their early sixties who are interested in developing congregate hosing with three other couples. I have also been talking with a writer looking at the question of the needs of aging single women and have been interesteded in what are called "naturally occuring retirement communities" where a significant portion of the aging population either cannot or does not want to leave their homes.


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