There have always been discussions about the apartment inventory in the Five Towns. Aside from the question of availability, there’s the matter of whether or not the apartment complexes here have updated their amenities in sync with the growing senior population in our community looking to downsize from their present homes to easier apartment-style living. But since everyone’s budget when it comes to retirement is different, how realistic is it to actually achieve that comfortable as well as budget-conscious accomplishment when it comes your turn to shop for an apartment in the Five Towns?
We are really not a community with a large inventory of apartments — whether rental, coop, or condo — that is suited for senior living, even for those who do not need to consider a budget and can really buy anything that suits their fancy.
When the Regency started selling its apartments, the layout of the building and apartments was great for those retiring or needing assistance, and those who could afford the going rate of those units got luxury apartments with lots of amenities and easy access. Today, that building is, for the most part, sold out, with a high price tag when a unit actually becomes available for sale.
Even those for whom price is not important are in a quandary when they want to stay in the neighborhood but cannot buy an apartment with the amenities they want. The alternative condominium buildings available in the Five Towns are the Carlyle in Lawrence and Jonathan Hall in Hewlett, but both also experience similar issues of low sale inventory.
The cooperative market, which offers more building options throughout the Five Towns, falls into a more available inventory market than the condominium market; there are many more cooperative buildings in the Five Towns than condominiums, which creates more inventory in general, but even in the cooperative marketplace, the types of apartment units typically sought by seniors fall into a smaller category than what is now being offered in the cooperative marketplace. This begs the question: If this is already a smaller category, as the Five Towns community ages and more and more of its residents require senior-friendly apartments that are not available in the Five Towns, are these residents going to have to move out of the Five Towns because they have no choice, or will there be a determined effort to upgrade the available inventory of not-senior-friendly apartments presently offered and do whatever is necessary to address the shortcomings of these apartments when it comes to senior citizens’ needs?
Most of the cooperative apartment buildings and complexes in the Five Towns are garden-apartment units in buildings featuring only two floors with no elevators or lifts, with the second floor accessible only by a full staircase.
For senior citizens, this is obviously a situation that automatically cancels out consideration of a buying option, no matter how beautiful the apartment may be. Add to this that most of these garden apartments also do not have indoor or elevator access to their storage space or garages, and this type of setup will be automatically omitted from their search no matter how enticing the asking price may be; for many seniors, going outdoors and down a steep staircase to get to a garage, or up and down a steep staircase to bring in items or groceries, is not going to work for their needs.
We have arrived at a time when the elevator buildings we have are not offering more than a few apartment units at a time, and all those garden apartments — with big beautiful layouts, but on the second floor, which is an automatic bust for senior citizens looking for comfortable living conditions in their later years — are sitting for long periods of time until they sell, usually to young people starting out. If the complex owners would create elevators or lifts for those on the second floors, as well as to the garages, both the owners of those units as well as the building owner would benefit from the higher values that would result from the money invested in making the buildings more accessible.
There is high demand today from senior citizens for accessible apartments in our community, yet our housing stock of accessible apartments is extremely low.
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and a licensed N.Y.S. loan officer (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services as well as mortgage services. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa@AVCrealty.com.