Superior Lakeside Senior Living

By assessing the needs of an age-targeted demographic through focus groups and surveys, builder and architect were able to execute a flawless and timeless design into Cresswind at Lake Lanier.

By Evan Lancaster
Photography by Warren Bond Photography

Surrounded by the pristine shores of Lake Lanier in Gainesville, GA., an officially recognized sanctuary by the National Audubon Society, home builder Kolter Homes has developed a well-respected niche for active adult living. By offering access to nature, walking paths and lakeside living, along with a three-level clubhouse that serves as the heartbeat of the community, Cresswind at Lake Lanier has been awarded our 2012 Pubby Award for Senior Community Clubhouse of the Year.

In January 2010, Kolter Homes purchased a foreclosed development from Wells Fargo and began construction on what is now the Cresswind at Lake Lanier. According to Robert Rademacher, vice president, Kolter Homes, after the homebuilder acquired the development, the main goal was to adhere to senior lifestyle specific amenities, in an age targeted setting. By focusing on the needs of future residents, Kolter was able to offer active-adult resort-style living with a Southern charm.

According to Radmacher, Kolter Homes conducted research and hosted focus groups with over 1,500 participants in order to find exactly what active adult residents would want and why. He explained that Kolter paid close attention to the top ten needs of residents who want to live longer, healthier lives. “The inspiration [for Cresswind] is a new innovative approach to the active adult buyer based on information gained from a 2,500-person survey,” Radmacher said. “We want to bring uniqueness in terms of product, resort living, and the sales consultant process. We educate our buyers; we don’t sell them. We took the top ten items our customers told us they wanted and included them in every home.”

The gated community of Cresswind at Lake Lanier offers 739 single-family homes, featuring two-to-four bedroom, two-to-three and one-half bathroom ranch-style floor plans ranging from 1,346 to 2,964 square feet. Radmacher added that in the last few years Kolter has closed over 50 homes since the 2010 purchase and currently holds the title for the most sought after active adult community in Atlanta. “We have finished and sold 53 homes that we purchased in Jan of 2010, we designed all new plans and produced a new model park that features nine of the plans fully decorated,” he said. “We have built a new design studio and Welcome Center. Year to date, we are the top selling active adult community in the Atlanta metro area.”

Kolter Homes and architect Southern Design Concepts of Atlanta, Inc., wanted to create an ideal atmosphere for active-adult living inside the home, with large spacious floor plans and plenty of easily accessible storage space, but also wanted to offer options that would invigorate, stimulate and enlighten the lives of residents with amenities accessible throughout the community as well.

Kolter Homes and Southern Design Concepts of Atlanta, Inc., chose to include the essence of a small town feel throughout Cresswind. David C. McGee, president of, Southern Design Concepts of Atlanta, Inc., explained that although residents at Cresswind have different backgrounds, passions and choice of leisure activities, the project’s constant objective was to develop a product that catered to the different buyer profiles inside the community.

“Even though these folks are similar in age, their life experiences, work, family, travel and economic situations are different,” McGee said. “The main challenge was to create home plans that would provide for different lifestyles and buyer profiles even though we were targeting a specific age demographic.”

With homes starting in the low $200,000s, McGee explained that by designing Cresswind with several lifestyles in mind, the team developed three “product chassis” that were used to determine price points by lot size and square footage. According to McGee, this method worked well within the design of Cresswind in the sense that there is a variation between lot size without becoming overbearing or redundant.

“The one thing they all have in common is that they maintain the smaller architectural vernacular so that no one coming to the community for the first time even really realizes that there is product size diversification going on, ” McGee explained.

However, lot sizes and price points are not first on the minds of those residing within Cresswind at Lake Lanier. By taking advantage of the three-level, state-of-the-art clubhouse featuring an indoor pool, spa, a fitness center and a grand ballroom, homeowners have an opportunity to interact with friends for a game of pool or take a cooking class in the demonstration kitchen.

The upper deck terraces have beautiful serene views of the lake and forests that provide residents a place to sit and relax. Here, residents at Cresswind can unwind and still have access to dozens of age-targeted and lifestyle specific activities that keep residents active and provide a stable transition into retirement. Rademacher explained that the clubhouse at Cresswind is built around fitness, nutrition, and relationships. He added that by developing Cresswind with these aspects in mind, the builder was able to provide a platform for residents to live better, longer. Slated for completion in 2017, Cresswind continues to develop into a small town community with Southern charm.

“We make sure our buyers are up to date with everything happening in their new home,” he said. “We also go to great effort to make sure they stay happy with their decision to build with us long after they close the home.” McGee attributed the success of the community to the beauty of the surrounding area of Gainesville and the dedication from builder and homeowners to make Cresswind one of the most unique and desirable locations to call home.

“It is nestled and placed into the existing landscape along with the new hardscape and integrated new landscape material very cohesively,” he added. “It was done knowing that the existing landscape needed not be disturbed but only enhanced.

Evan Lancastery is features editor at 50+ Builder. He may be reached at elancaster@penpubinc.com.

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