Age-restricted complex OK'd

Zoning Board approves Cherry Tree, continuing growth of housing aimed at seniors

November 27, 2005|BY A SUN REPORTER

Driven by a seemingly insatiable demand, another age-restricted development is planned for Howard County.

The Zoning Board gave unanimous approval to the initial application for the project, Cherry Tree Park, just east of U.S. 29 and off Route 216 near Fulton.

The project will represent an expansion of and change for Cherry Tree, which has a small retail shopping center and 170 homes built or under construction.

As originally planned and approved by the county seven years ago, the second phase of Cherry Tree would involve construction of more than 201,000 square feet of commercial office space.

But the new Class A commercial component at Maple Lawn, Maryland, a half-mile away has made plans for expansive office space at Cherry Tree problematic.

The developer, Cherrytree Park LLC, now proposes building 128 age-restricted housing units and reducing the commercial aspect of the project to a more manageable 30,000 square feet.

The project will include eight four-story buildings, each with 16 units. All units will have two bedrooms and 1,600 square feet. They are not expected to be built for about two years, mainly because of the county's application and permit processes.

Although prices for the units have not been set, John F. Liparini, president of Brantly Development Corp., said, "If they were on the market today, they'd be somewhere around $275,000."

There has been a virtual explosion in age-restricted housing in the past five years, and it now represents the largest segment of the county's housing market.

That trend is not expected to diminish as the county undergoes a significant transformation in demographics. Indeed, studies project the county's 55-and-older segment to mushroom to 97,746 in 2030 from 51,551 today.

Those retired or nearing retirement are expected to increase their purchases of homes to 1,665 annually from roughly 730 a year at the start of the decade, according to a report by Lipman Frizzell & Mitchell, LLC, a Columbia-based real estate consulting firm.

Cherry Tree's entry into the age-restricted market would address two county concerns. The first is providing housing for the growing senior population. The second is providing it at an affordable price.

Most of the age-restricted units built in the county in the past five years have been at the high-end of the spectrum -- costing $500,000 or more.

Liparini said he does not believe the acceleration of age-restricted housing in the county will adversely affect Cherry Tree.

"Based on the studies that we've had done, the population will be there," he said.

The Zoning Board, which is composed of members of the County Council, approved Cherrytree's amended preliminary development plan 4-0. David A. Rakes did not attend.

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