View of the first-floor living area from the second-floor balcony in the villa model at the Gatherings at Ellicott Mills in Howard County, Md. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)

Beazer Homes doesn’t call its 55-and-older developments “active” communities anymore.

Of course, residents will want a gym, space for parties, and restaurants and shopping nearby.

“Active” now goes without saying, according Cindy Plackmeyer, a regional marketing manager for the builder.

Take the new Gatherings at Ellicott Mills development of condominiums and villas being built off North Ridge Road near Interstate 70 and Route 29 in Howard County. It will have a community center with a cafe, a fitness center and an outdoor pool.

The 55-and-older development is not far from the Long Gate Shopping Center, historic Ellicott City and The Mall in Columbia.

But the development also includes amenities of special interest to older residents: buildings with elevators, showers with built-in seats, raised vanities and lever door handles that are easier for arthritic hands to open.

Plans call for three four-story condo buildings with 27 units each. Forty-six townhouse-style villas are also planned, for a total of 127 homes.

Customized for residents 55-plus: The Gatherings at Ellicott Mills is expected to attract residents like Evelyn Kellner, who put in the first contract in the development on a condo with two bedrooms, a den and two bathrooms.

Although she’s retired from her government job (after 32 years) at the Federal Aviation Administration, she’s working part time for a property management firm.

She sold her duplex in Glen Burnie and initially moved into a condo in Piney Orchard, thinking it would be her retirement home. But the complex wasn’t designated 55-plus, and, while many of the first residents were older, as the housing market became harder to enter, more young families moved in, Kellner says.

“I was hearing a lot of footsteps, that sort of thing,” she says.

She has since sold her condo and has been renting in a 55-and-older condo community as she waits for construction to be completed at the Gatherings at Ellicott Mills, where she’ll have a top-floor unit.

Kellner says she likes the activities organized in 55-plus communities. “They go places. They have a holiday party, a women’s group. They have book clubs and go out to lunch,” she says.

“I think it will be fun,” says Kellner, who intends to help plan activities in the new community.

She expects to close next week.

Loft and optional study: The villas have three bedrooms, including a master suite on the first floor and 21 / 2 bathrooms. There is also an open loft space, with two bedrooms and a bath on the second floor.

The condominiums are offered with four floor plans: The 1,453-square-foot Aspen model has an open living room, dining room and kitchen, two bedrooms with walk-in closets, two full bathrooms, and a sitting room in the master suite. It also comes with an optional study.

The 1,570-square-foot Bradford has two bedrooms, including a master bedroom with a sitting area, two full bathrooms and a study. The 1,721-square-foot Chestnut floor plan has two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a breakfast nook and a separate dining room.

The largest unit — the Dogwood, at 1,886-square-feet — has a separate dining and living room, a breakfast room, two bedrooms, two baths and a study.

All units have optional washers and dryers. They also have Whirlpool appliances, and ceramic title tubs and showers. Finishing details, such as cabinet color, can be chosen.

Bedrooms are carpeted, but hardwood floors in the foyer can be extended to the living and dining rooms. Ceilings are 9-feet high.

Intercom and garage: The exterior features decorative brick and vinyl siding, and fiberglass roof shingles. The condo buildings have lobbies with elevators and automatic locking doors with an intercom system.

The units have high-efficiency heating systems and central air conditioning.

Each condo unit has a one-car garage, and the villas have two-car garages.

The property is surrounded by woods. “It feels like a quiet enclave,” says Liz Friedman, design studio manager at Beazer Homes.

Although the community is age-restricted, grown children may live with parents, and grandchildren are welcome as guests. In fact, many residents choose the location, in part, to be close to grandchildren, Friedman says.

While the move may mean going from a single-family house to a smaller unit, closet space is ample. The condo owners may also purchase storage units on the bottom floor.

Schools: Because no one under 18 is allowed to live in the development, grade school districts are not applicable. Howard Community College is in nearby Columbia.

Transit: The community is close to Interstate 70 and Route 29. The Dorsey MARC station is about 10 miles away.

Laura Barnhardt Cech is a freelance writer.

The Gatherings at Ellicott Mills

8428 Adderley Ave., Ellicott City.

Condos for residents 55 and older start at $275,900. Townhouse-style villas start at $371,990.

Builder: Beazer Homes

Features: The villas have master suites on the first floor and two bedrooms on the second floor. The condos have a sitting room in the master suite and an optional loft. Some units have separate living and dining areas, as well as a breakfast room. The community features a pool and nearby shopping.

Bedrooms/bathrooms: 2 to 3 / 2 to 2.5

Square footage: 1,453 to 2,272

Home association fees: Condos will be about $310 per month and villas about $162.

View models: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily.

Sales: 410-505-8188 or .