Bloomfield, CT – Baby Boomers are changing the face of retirement communities. Long-accustomed to getting what they want — due to the size of their generation — they are now affecting what communities offer residents.
“Architects, designers, and progressive senior-living communities like Duncaster are preparing for an event that has been coined ‘The Silver Tsunami’ because there are 78 million Boomers on the verge of looking for retirement living options,” says Myles R. Brown AIA, LEED AP, principal-in-charge of Amenta Emma architects retail, mixed-use, and senior living projects.
The Hartford-based company has a specialty in senior housing. “The Boomers are coming to senior housing and they expect to have what they have in their current homes. They are looking for warm, spacious, light-filled homes that feel connected to the outdoors, along with upscale finishes and amenities such as hardwood floors, stone countertops, and high-end appliances and fixtures. They also want the provisions for aging in place that their current houses do not have such as: accessibility clearances in bathrooms and kitchens, fixtures and counter tops and controls set at appropriate heights, and the ability to easily add grab bars for stability in the bathroom.”
Amenta Emma’s latest development is the expansion of Duncaster Retirement Community’s apartment homes. As the steel rises and the structure begins to take shape on the community’s Bloomfield campus, Brown talked about how the design for these homes reflects a new trend with proactive communities.
“These apartment homes are designed for the current and future generations of seniors, and they don’t look like most retirement community apartments used to look. When we visit many older communities, we find apartments with small dark spaces, sterile dated finishes, and an overall design that is not well-suited for today’s lifestyle. In the past, it seems like many architects and designers approached senior housing design as more institutional/less residential, and the result was a home that current and future generations can’t relate to. As we do with all of our undertakings, our design team, in close collaboration with Duncaster, took a much more cross-generational approach to the design of the Duncaster apartment homes. In order to be successful, today’s senior communities need to feature what we all want in our lives.”
In keeping with these trends, Duncaster’s new additions are more like luxury homes. “The floor plans are much more open, with large windows, more natural light, and large balconies,” says Carol Ann McCormick, Duncaster’s vice president-sales and marketing. She points out that all of the apartment homes sold out months before the start of construction. “We found the market was really responsive to these new designs, so we knew they appealed to the seniors of today and tomorrow. People especially liked that each residence boasts three exposures.”
Among other amenities that resonated was the ability to choose one’s own finishes, like cabinetry and fixtures. Duncaster’s new apartment homes feature open floor plans and the latest in kitchen trends including islands, granite counter tops, breakfast bars, and French door refrigerators. Security is also important to this group of residents, so the new homes include keyless entry and live video feeds of anyone at their doorstep.
Despite the challenging winter, construction is on track, according to John Carpenter of Olsen Construction. “We had to put in a lot of 14-hour days, but we managed to make up most of the time the weather took away from us,” he says. “We expect to be ready for those residents to move in early fall as planned.”
This is the sixth expansion in Duncaster’s 30-year history, bringing the community to 195 apartment homes on its 94-acre campus that also includes assisted living apartments and short- and long-term skilled nursing accommodations, plus rehab services.
“These new apartment homes reflect the wants and expectations of today’s active seniors. The floor plans respond to their desires for up-to-date amenities, freedom from maintaining a house, and the flexibility to have healthcare options at hand, just in case,” says Carol Ann. “It’s a trend that bodes well for all of us.”