Last fall Mrs. GoTo and I decided to take our first visit to an active adult community (also known as a 55+ community). We had been generally discussing the concept of downsizing in the not so distant future, so we thought we would begin exploring the various options for a downsized destination. Del Webb may be the best known developer of active adult communities. It has properties all over the country. Lake Providence is one of its newest.
It was promoting a brand new collection of model homes and its newly opened clubhouse. So we payed a visit on a warm Saturday afternoon. Here is a summary:
Features we liked about Lake Providence:
2. The club house was fantastic in both appearance and amenities offered. It was on a level with many resort facilities we have seen.
3. Recreational amenities were first rate, including a fishing/canoeing lake and outside sport and game facilities for residents and younger guests. The lake was on the small side – actually more of a large pond.
4. Several of the model homes and floor plans were appealing to us and very affordable. There was one plan in particular that was perfect for our lifestyle.
5. The residents whom we met were very friendly and proud of their community.
6. The suburban location is convenient with nearby commercial facilities, including health care and large airport.
Features we disliked about Lake Providence:
1. The lake was not properly maintained, with substantial floating weed cover in sections. We were told this was a temporary condition.
2. The existing homes were poorly positioned with respect to each other. The homes were close together which we understand. However, in many cases the views across the back yards were directly into another home. In most communities of this type, berms or other natural physical features are used as visual barriers. Although this was attempted at Lake Providence, it was not executed well.
3. Lot selection was limited. If you wanted a certain model, you had to find a lot where that model was scheduled to be built. Lake Providence is being opened in phases but you are not permitted to reserve lots in future phases. I suppose that policy is to insure that existing lots are sold first, keeping construction costs to a minimum. From an overall marketing perspective, I’m not sure that is the best strategy. It certainly discouraged us.
4. Exterior finishes were too similar. Many of the home models were quite similar in exterior appearance and ended up being built directly next to each other. On some streets, the “cookie cutter” effect (which cannot be eliminated completely) was severe. I think they should do a better job of mixing in contrasting exterior design features to reduce the repetitive visual impact of a living in compact community.
5. Design changes are discouraged or just not permitted. Although there are many options offered in interior finishes and upgrades, making a minor change to a floor plan is not allowed. For example, we inquired about adding a single wall and door to enclose the toilet area inside a bathroom. Although this is simple to implement, we were told that no change of that type would be considered during construction. We would have to wait until after the house was finished and then make the change ourselves.
Here is a virtual tour of Lake Providence.
We have not made any final decision about active adult communities in general or about Del Webb Lake Providence in particular. We intend to continue to investigate the 55 plus community option for ourselves and for other baby boomers. Stay tuned.