Downsizing empty-nesters Larry and JoAnne Day quickly sold their five-bedroom house in Darnestown, Md., last year and began renting a two-bedroom apartment in Rockville while deciding on their next move.
“I kept seeing ads for 55-and-older communities that caught my attention, but we didn’t want to live in an old people’s neighborhood,” said JoAnne Day, 62, a retired teacher. “We want to be with active people who like to travel and share our interests.”
The Days decided to buy a four-bedroom townhouse built by Van Metre Homes in Birchwood at Brambleton, a 255-acre, 55-plus development catering to aging baby boomers in Loudoun County, Va.
“Life Refreshes at 55” is Birchwood’s slogan and its residents will have use of a 20,000-square-foot clubhouse, starting in spring 2019, to try new pursuits. They will be able to attend cooking classes in a demonstration kitchen, swim in indoor and outdoor pools, and craft artistic creations, all while hanging out with other seniors. Outdoor amenities include community gardens, a lake with a fishing pier, and bicycle and walking trails.
“We like that it is not an isolated neighborhood,” said retired IT systems engineer Larry Day, 69. “It is close to the Brambleton town center and our kids and grandson.” The couple’s two grown daughters live in nearby South Riding and Ashburn, and the Days’ two-level, nearly 3,000-square-foot home will have enough space to accommodate the entire family and guests.
Space for visiting grandkids: The Days are buying Van Metre’s Grand Villa Hudson design for $630,000, with upgrades such as a back deck overlooking the community’s lake. The four-bedroom, three-bath layout is reflected in the builder’s model home — the first to open at Birchwood.
In addition to the 79 attached villas, the 55-plus community will offer condominiums, courtyard dwellings and single-family detached houses constructed by three builders on 1,502 total home sites.
“The villas are for folks who have an active lifestyle, like to entertain, want a place for their grandkids to run around, and where stairs aren’t a problem,” Van Metre sales manager Ernie Kyger said.
In these townhouses, the main part of the home is set on an angle from the garage at the front to ensure privacy from neighbors. Exterior materials combine brick with fiber-cement board and vinyl siding.
Lots of light and 10-foot-high ceilings: On the main level of the Hudson model, one of two master suites is at the front behind the garage. The Days plan to use it as a guest room.
The rest of the ground level is a big open space with the kitchen tucked to one side, so the homeowner has the choice of where to put the dining and living areas.
“The 10-foot ceilings in the great room give it an expansive feeling,” Larry Day said. “There is a tremendous amount of light, both from the windows and internal lighting fixtures.”
The model features many upgrades, including painted wainscoting, wallpaper and wide-plank, engineered wood flooring in the living and dining areas.
Off the front hallway, a closet is tucked under the staircase leading to the second-floor bedrooms, but could become a powder room.
A generous landing at the top of the stairs, dubbed the “retreat” by the builder, can be used as a sitting area, a study or a TV lounge. It divides the second-floor master suite at the rear from two bedrooms and a hall bathroom at the front. Ceilings on this level extend to nine feet.
The Hudson is offered with alternative layouts, including a second-floor master suite at the front of the house and two smaller bedrooms at the back. A laundry room can be added next to the ground-level master bedroom or second-floor hallway.
At the front of the house, an outdoor terrace on the roof of the garage comes standard, as shown in the model.
Two slightly smaller Grand Villa designs, the Cousteau and Cartier, offer three bedrooms and three baths with the master suite on the second level.
Prices for all three models range from $600,990 to $709,346. None of the townhouses are ready for immediate occupancy, but seven have sold, and several houses will be ready for occupancy this summer, according to the builder.
Shopping and amenities: Birchwood is a short drive from Brambleton Town Center, which includes a Harris Teeter grocery store, along with shops, restaurants and a movie theater. A new public library in the town center is under construction and expected to open this summer. Birchwood will have its own clubhouse, parks, and walking and biking trails. Dulles Town Center, Leesburg Premium Outlets and Fair Oaks Mall are within short driving distances.
Transit: Birchwood at Brambleton is reached from the Loudoun County Parkway and is close to the Dulles Greenway (Route 267). On weekdays, the Loudoun County Transit Commuter Bus runs from Brambleton to downtown Washington.
42803 Cumulus Terrace, Ashburn, Va.
In this 55-plus community, 79 Grand Villa townhouses, ranging from $600,990 to $709,346, are being built next to Birchwood’s fishing lake. Seven residences have been sold so far. The builder is also selling condominiums in Birchwood from the model sales office. Builder guidelines require that there be at least one qualifying occupant who is 55 or older, and no resident younger than 18. Each buyer fills out an affidavit with proof of age of everyone who will be living in the residence.
Builder: Van Metre
Bedrooms/bathrooms: 3 to 4 / 3
Square footage: 2,642 to 2,971
Features: All houses have two-car garages and exteriors clad in brick, Hardie-panels and vinyl siding. Of the three designs offered, the Hudson is the largest, with two master suites, one on the main floor and another on the second level. Engineered hardwood floors in the main living area, granite countertops in the kitchen and master baths, GE stainless-steel kitchen appliances and upgraded ceramic tile in all bathrooms are among the standard features.
Homeowners association fee: $189 per month, includes landscape maintenance, trash and recycling removal, cable TV and Internet services.
View model: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.