Condo conga line

Down­siz­ing se­niors dance to no-main­te­nance tune

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Front Page - MARTY HOPE

Down­siz­ing poses dif­fi­cult chal­lenges for home­own­ers. For a cer­tain seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion, the de­ci­sion to ac­cept the fact that big house is too big to main­tain isn’t some­thing that comes overnight. There are the mem­o­ries to con­tend with, the gar­den that was put to­gether with years of sweat, neigh­bours that will be left be­hind, and con­cerns about what lies ahead.

Then there is the phys­i­cal chal­lenge of down­siz­ing, hav­ing to get rid of a lot of per­sonal be­long­ings, fur­ni­ture and ac­ces­sories that just won’t fit in the smaller place.

What to keep, what to use, what to store some­where else — just in case. Th­ese are tough de­ci­sions.

Then there are those who em­brace the idea of down­siz­ing. The kids are gone and the par­ents are tired of rat­tling around in a big sin­gle-de­tached home when a con­do­minium apart­ment will do.

Yet an­other part of the down­siz­ing crowd isn’t ac­tu­ally down­siz­ing, but are buy­ing a smaller sec­ond, third or fourth home where they can hang their hats and purses when the urge hits.

And there is no par­tic­u­lar de­mo­graphic for the down­siz­ers. Se­niors, boomers, empty-nesters, suc­cess­ful en­trepreneur­s and ex­ec­u­tives are do­ing it.

Whether forced or not, down­siz­ing is all about life­style — and life cy­cles — and con­do­mini­ums are the hous­ing style of choice for th­ese folks. Vern and Ella Storey took the same route from their Oko­toks home to the se­niors’ cen­tre ev­ery time they wanted to play cards or just so

cial­ize.

One day a cou­ple of years ago, when they turned to cor­ner off Southridge Drive headed for Com­mu­nity Way, they saw a big bill­board by Cal­vanna De­vel­op­ments Ltd. ad­ver­tis­ing the constructi­on of a se­niors’ hous­ing com­plex called Cal­vanna Vil­lageOko­toks.

“That got us talk­ing about things,” says Vern. “Maybe it was time to get out from un­der all the main­te­nance.”

The Storeys, both in their late 70s, have been in Oko­toks for 20 years and lived in a bun­ga­low at the top of the hill on the east side of town.

There was the long drive­way that needed shov­el­ling dur­ing the win­ter; and maybe it was time to put be­hind them the work re­quired to main­tain their flock of racing pi­geons.

Well, they kicked things around, talked with the de­vel­oper, and fi­nally took the plunge.

What they bought was a 962square-foot two-bed­room unit (com­plete with fridge, stove, dish­washer and washer and drier) on the top floor of the three-storey build­ing — one of three in the com­plex. Enough room for the two of them, and for Vern to set up an easel to con­tinue with his paint­ing.

“It’s handy, right across from the new Cen­ten­nial Arena and close to the Safe­way store,” says Vern.

Paul Funk, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor for Cal­vanna, says the de­vel­op­ment has been a suc­cess be­cause of the life­style op­tions it of­fers res­i­dents.

He says res­i­dents are mov­ing out of sin­gle-fam­ily homes, for the most part, but also from town­houses and other apart­ment projects that no longer suit them.

“They don’t want the main­te­nance headaches, and like the lock-and-leave se­cu­rity when the want to do some trav­el­ling,” Funk says. “It’s just a more ca­sual life­style for them.”

Cal­vanna Vil­lage-Oko­toks is one of a dozen sim­i­lar projects for the com­pany in and around Cal­gary.

Two of the three res­i­den­tial build­ings in the com­plex are sold out and the fi­nal one is more than half gone.

The min­i­mum age to move into the com­plex is 50, but Funk says the av­er­age age is in the 60s.

Al Sch­midt is vice-pres­i­dent of the La­Caille Group and his view of the move­down mar­ket is from a to­tally dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive and de­mo­graphic.

“It’s com­pletely frac­tured. There used to be a clearer pic­ture but not any more,” he says.

La­Caille is the de­vel­oper of three up­scale high­rises on the west side of down­town — Chateau La­Caille, La­Caille Park Place, and Five West — and all are see­ing their share of the new-look move­down par­tic­i­pants.

Many of the res­i­dents of th­ese build­ings are re­duc­ing the size of their Cal­gary home while main­tain­ing homes in other lo­ca­tions.

“It’s not un­usual for some of our res­i­dents to have a place on the coast, an­other down south, one close to Cal­gary and one in Cal­gary,” he says.

He talked of one res­i­dent of Five West who dra­mat­i­cally down­sized his apart­ment be­cause he had other homes else­where and didn’t need the large one here.

That buyer, adds Sch­midt, is typ­i­cal of those buy­ing in La­Caille’s three build­ings.

“They’ve had their win­ter place for years and no longer need that large home in Cal­gary, he says. “The move­down unit meets their needs here and pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity to spend the rest of their time else­where.”

An­other res­i­dent of one of the other build­ings has a 5,000-square-foot home in B.C. and has down­sized from his sin­gle-fam­ily Cal­gary home to a 700-square­foot apart­ment.

Mul­ti­ple prop­erty own­er­ship is af­fect­ing and splin­ter­ing the move­down mar­ket, says Sch­midt.

There are, he adds, count­less rea­sons peo­ple de­cide to move down in the hous­ing mar­ket — but there is one thing that every­one has in com­mon.

“The com­mon thread run­ning through all of this is life­style — and con­dos suit the move­down mar­ket more than de­tached homes do,” he adds.

Marty Hope, Cal­gary Her­ald

Vern Storey paints in one of the rooms of his Cal­vanna Vil­lage condo in Oko­toks. He and wife Ella moved there a cou­ple of years ago from their de­tached homes.

Marty Hope, Cal­gary Her­ald

Vern and Ella Storey moved from their sin­gle-fam­ily home a cou­ple of years ago into a Cal­vanna Vil­lage condo in Oko­toks.

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