Oct 23

Senior Housing: Subdivisions for Seniors Only

by Renata Birkenbuel

Imagine stepping outside your home, only to view the historic, tree-lined Marcus Daly Mansion from your front porch.

That’s the view you’d get if you chose to live at the Riverside Crossing Senior Cooperative in Hamilton, one of many pristinely developed subdivisions across Montana built specifically for 55-and-older residents.

Situated between the beautiful Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains, Riverside Crossing Senior Co-op sits due west of the mansion, an area that boasts stunning views.

“It’s a pastoral setting with walking trails and a nature park already developed,” beams Paul Travitz, executive director of the Ravalli County Council on Aging. Riverside Crossing Senior Cooperative exists as a subdivision and partner of the council.

“We have developed a 20-acre campus divided into eight lots and a two-acre park area within the subdivision,” says Travitz. The Council on Aging donated four acres to the Ravalli County Economic Development Authority, which plays host to the Bitterroot College of the University of Montana.

After a lifetime of ongoing home and yard maintenance, retirees or near-retirees age 55 and older may want to kick back and pump energy into other chore-free activities. In that vein, Travitz is confident that such residents would see their home or home-away-from-home dreams come true.

“A senior co-op provides owners the freedom to live an active lifestyle without the burdens of home maintenance, lawn care and other household duties,” he explains. “The typical co-op owner is looking to downsize from the large home where they have raised their family. Or they’re looking for a second home in another part of the country where they can visit, but they know that while they’re gone their home is being taken care of.”

Indeed, the motto of Riverside Crossing coaxes potential residents with a beguiling catch phrase: “Council on Aging-Providing the Opportunity for Independence.”

Although the Ravalli County Council on Aging is currently searching for a developing partner, it has instituted a plan to build a 39-unit senior housing cooperative.

“The goal for the entire subdivision,” Travitz says, “is to develop a step-up in-care campus, independent living, assisted living and a nursing home, that allows seniors to age in place even though they may need more assistance as they grow older.”

Although similar new popular subdivisions continue to spring up across the state, another picturesque subdivision in the Bitterroot is the Kootenai Creek Village in Stevensville.

Located roughly 20 minutes south of Missoula and 25 minutes north of Hamilton, Kootenai Creek Village boasts a nearby grocery store and pharmacy, plus downtown “Stevi” is only three minutes away.

Marketed as a “55-plus retirement and active community,” Kootenai Creek is a housing project and not a senior rest home, according to developer Tom Allsop. “There will be about 228 people living in Kootenai-like resorts that coax the bone-weary bearing disposable income to high-tech saunas, rehabilitation facilities and other such luxurious amenities, some 55-plus subdivisions play up special amenities, locations with a view and overall lifestyle advantages.

If you lived at The Knolls, you’d have at your disposal the same amenities listed in Montana State University recruiting brochures: hiking, mountain biking, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, opera, art walks, Shakespeare in the Park and the Museum of the Rockies – all enveloped in the aura of glamorous Big Sky Country.

Even the Sparrow Group, a Missoula-based affordable housing development firm, is building Depot Place in downtown Kalispell, a stone’s throw away from Glacier National Park, the Mission Mountains, resort towns of Whitefish and Bigfork and, of course, coveted Flathead Lake.

“If everything clicks along without any hiccups, we hope to be in the ground this summer and opening for occupancy about a year from now,” says Alex Burkhalter, project manager and vice president of development for the Sparrow Group.

For an excellent list of detailed resources, as recommended by Travitz, check out the Senior Cooperative Foundation at http://www.seniorcoops.org/resources.php.

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