Retirement village's first residents find their niche

May 19, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Sun Staff Writer

Margaret Nielson fluttered around the living room of her new condominium, proud to be the first resident of New Windsor's Springdale Village Retirement Community.

She fussed over the room's elaborate furnishings, especially a cream-colored love seat decorated with peach throw pillows.

"It's a little small, and I was thinking of getting something a little bigger for this room. What do you think?" Mrs. Nielson, 88, asked.

Barely waiting for an answer, she spread her arms in front of her in a flourish and announced: "This is my little dollhouse. I love it. I absolutely love it."

Mrs. Nielson and her husband, Alfred, 93, moved into Springdale Village on April 20, more than a year after signing an agreement to purchase the property.

Mrs. Nielson said she didn't mind the wait. She just wanted to come back.

"I was born and raised in New Windsor and I decided I wanted to come back here to retire," said Mrs. Nielson. "I had lived in Florida for 24 years and since I was getting old, I figured it was time to return."

David C. Bullock, developer of the retirement community, is happy that he was able to make the Nielsons happy.

"There was a lot of work that went into this," said Mr. Bullock, standing in the living room of the development model. "But what I think we have here is a good community here, a quality product.

"This is a place small enough for them to take care of for the people who don't need a big house any more. What they can do is live independently, on their own."

Mr. Bullock spent the past two years working on the project -- and battling the weather and the county's reforestation ordinance -- to provide comfortable, independent housing for the 55-plus crowd desiring to wind down, but not stop.

"Sometimes I have to be careful when I say 'retirement village' because some people get offended. They figure just because they are 55 years old doesn't mean they are retired," Mr. Bullock said.

The decorative landscaping on Carlisle Drive -- the community's main drag named for the town's former mayor, now councilman, James Carlisle -- makes the development seem more like a single-family home subdivision than a retirement community.

Mr. Bullock refers to it as "an adult restricted residential condominium community."

The Nielsons said the nontraditional retirement home setup was a big draw for them, though they had planned to move into the New Windsor area anyway.

They had lived in a large home in Lighthouse Point, Fla., and the smaller area of a condominium looked rather appealing.

"It's just a lot less work for you when you get older," Mrs. Nielson said.

The small-town atmosphere drew her back, she said, though she left her son, Gerald Brown, 64, in Florida. Her other son, Robert Brown, 69, lives in Taylorsville.

"It's comfortable here, friendly. I just like the closeness of the houses," she said. "It's all very convenient."

Mr. Nielson, a retired government worker, agreed.

"I like it because it's mostly country-like. I lived in the city all my life, and it was just a rat race," said Mr. Nielson, who is a native of Hartford, Conn. "I wanted to live in the country. This is my last chance."

Mr. Bullock promises that Mr. Nielson can enjoy his country life for as long as he stays in the village.

Because a land trust protects 100 acres of the property next to the retirement community, residents will never have to worry about development swallowing the picturesque countryside below their homes.

"We've got a distinct advantage," Mr. Bullock said. "They have the luxury of always looking down on that beautiful valley that won't ever be developed or changed."

Other advantages include the homeowners' right to sell their units on the open market later on if they choose. The units appreciate and the owners would at least be able to get their investment back, Mr. Bullock said.

In other retirement communities, he said, residents receive a portion of their investment back, in proportion to the time the person has lived in the unit.

"We get a lot of people interested in our community because they don't like the way other retirement communities have that set up," Mr. Bullock said. "This seems to make them happy."

The Nielsons appeared to be happy with their lot -- the Windsor I model, a one-bedroom unit with a garage and sun room.

Two other units have been completed -- duplex-style Windsor II condominiums with two bedrooms, two baths and a one-car garage each. The Windsor III, another duplex-style with a bedroom and den but no garage, has not been built.

Each condo includes such standard items as central air conditioning, an electric range with self-cleaning oven, a microwave, a refrigerator with ice maker, dishwasher, instant hot water dispenser and garbage disposal.

Prices range from $131,000 for the Windsor I to $98,000 for the Windsor III.

Twelve units have been sold and six are under construction. New units are being started every two weeks, Mr. Bullock said.

Mr. Bullock said the 35-unit development will be completed by Christmas 1995.

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