Home Towne Square: A New Definition In Retirement

When you think of terms such as 55-plus and retirement community, certain images come to mind:  apartments and cottage-style homes clustered around a golf course, shuffleboard and bridge games. But truth be told, 55-plus isn’t what it used to be. And retirement doesn’t mean putting your feet up on the front porch. Well, that is unless you want to.

In fact, many of today’s so-called “senior citizens” are staying as active as ever and living the way they’re accustomed to – independently, in their own homes.

Home Towne Square, built by Lancaster County-based Landmark Homes, is a perfect example.  It’s a 55-plus community that looks like suburban enclaves all over America.

Landmark has developed other 55-plus neighborhoods, too, such as Carmella, a condominium complex in Mechanicsburg, and Stonecroft Village, a single-family home development in Berks County, near the Lebanon County Line.  And there isn’t a shuffleboard court in sight at any of these locations.

“People think of oxygen tanks and walkers,” says Landmark Community Sales Manager Kelly Bricker. At Home Towne Square, located in Lancaster County near Ephrata, nothing could be further from the truth.

“This is a very active community,” says Barbara Glass, 61, who moved into the neighborhood with her husband, Allen, 71, in March 2012.

“This is a very active community,” says Barbara Glass, 61, who moved into the neighborhood with her husband, Allen, 71, in March 2012.

The development, for example, has walking trails for nice-weather strolls, room to bicycle.  Plus, anchoring Phase One of what will eventually be a 300-home neighborhood, is the community center.

This clubhouse-like structure features a gathering area, a coffee spot, billiards, a library space as well as movie, conference and exercise rooms – all of which will eventually be complemented by an outdoor swimming pool, slated for completion in 2014.

It’s the hub for what Barbara describes as the neighborhood social committee, which meets three day s a week for such activities as pizza parties and exercise. The latter ties in with Barbara’s only gripe about life in culinary-rich Lancaster County.

This is an area blessed with produce stands, bake shops and treasures such as downtown Lancaster’s Central Market, just a 40-minute drive away.

Barbara jokes, “That’s the complaint of every woman here.  There’s too much good food.”

Granted, places such as Home Towne Square are not for everyone. Unlike some independent-living communities, Home Towne Square and its sister neighborhoods are not affiliated with senior-care facilities.

That doesn’t mean the realities of aging – in body, if not in spirit – are ignored.

Interior doorways, for instance, are wider to accommodate wheelchairs, in case they are needed in the future.

Models at Home Towne Square range from the 1,794-square-foot James to the 3,245-square-foot Oakville. All are hallmarked by the arts-and-crafts style of architecture.

Each model at Home Towne Square features what Bricker calls a universal entry from the garage to the inside, providing a barrier-free egress.  Allen Glass notes such options as higher countertops so you don’t have to bend over as far and comfort toilets, which are taller than traditional models.

All homes at Home Towne Square feature a second floor, but even if you have an upstairs, most of the living is downstairs.  They have amenities such as first-floor master bedrooms, notes Karen Piscitelli, whose parents, Mike and Joan Cervelli, moved into the community last August.

Mike, 72, and Joan, 71, are familiar with the area, having moved to East Earl in Lancaster County from Bethpage on New York’s Long Island in 2001.

“We bought a big house,” Mike says of his former Lancaster County residence.  “After a few years, we decided it was too big for us.  We looked all over the country,” Mike recalls of their search for something more manageable.

Accompanied by Karen, they pulled into the emerging Home Towne Square and Mike and Joan remember Karen’s reaction of, “Wow!”  The Cervellis found a model they liked, known as the Plymouth, which is perfect for them at just over 2,000 square feet.

As it turned out, Karen, originally from Wantagh, N.Y., ended up buying a home right next to her folks. At 52, she is technically too young to join the community, but she was allowed. Even her dog was welcomed.

“This was unplanned,” Karen says.  “Yet, I wanted to be close to my parents.”

Models at Home Towne Square range from the 1,794-square-foot James to the 3,245-square-foot Oakville. All are hallmarked by the arts-and-crafts style of architecture. There are welcoming front porches and the houses are located fairly close together, prompting a village-style feel.

“Lock and go” sounds like “rock and roll,” and perhaps that’s an appropriate metaphor for today’s active 55-and-uppers.

But beyond looks, there are other aspects drawing seniors such as Allen and Barbara Glass, who defied retirement convention to move into Home Towne Square.

“We moved here from Florida,” Allen notes.  “Everyone says we went the wrong way.”

But Allen and Barbara have no regrets. They look at other communities and found that they were either cookie-cutter or established, Allen says. In the latter, he says, “the clientele were getting older, and I was not ready for that.”

What they were ready for was a continuation of their lifestyle, which is definitely non-sedentary. Yet, Allen doesn’t regret that the neighborhood has a homeowner’s association, which takes care of such matters as lawn mowing, weeding and keeping streets and driveways clear of snow.  Bricker calls the community “lock and go…totally maintenance free.”

“Lock and go” sounds like “rock and roll,” and perhaps that’s an appropriate metaphor for today’s active 55-and-uppers.

After all, the Rolling Stones and the surviving Beatles are closer to 70 than 25 these days. And you don’t see those guys slowing down, do you?

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