By Shandra Hill Smith
It’s a question many face once they’ve reached 55 or older: whether to downsize from a home that’s now too big for their needs. For many looking to trade in the extra space for a more carefree lifestyle, a viable option has gained in popularity in recent years. That concept of active adult communities allows them to keep busy – at work and/or through volunteering, along with socially – without being concerned with tasks such as home repairs or yard work. Here now, a look at three active adult communities, specifically for homebuyers 55 and older, in the surrounding metropolitan Atlanta area.
Jim Chapman Communities
Atlanta-based developer and homebuilder Jim Chapman Communities (jimchapmancommunities.com) offers both age-restricted and age-targeted ranch homes between its seven communities. At the age-targeted Concord Mill and The Springs at Sterling on the Lake, buyers 55 and older can move in, bringing younger household members along, too.
The five other Jim Chapman communities – Brookhaven at Johns Creek, Brookhaven at Lanier Ridge, Brookhaven at Sugarloaf, Brookhaven of East Cobb and Haven at Slater Mill are age-restricted, meaning one person living in the home should be 55 and older, with no residents falling under age 18.
“These people have raised children; they love their grandkids, but they want to see everybody when they want to see them and they don’t want to see other kids all the time,” says Jim Chapman Jr., president. “They really like that type of feel, where it’s basically an adult community.”
Jim Chapman Communities feature “maintenance-free materials in the construction of the home,” adds Chapman, who, for seven years, developed in and around Buckhead before shifting his focus on active adult communities after discovering one in Alpharetta and researching the concept.
With maintenance-free materials such as “vinyl-clad windows that won’t warp and don’t need repainting,” masonry materials like brick, and front doors made of fiberglass instead of wood, Chapman’s properties also are gated.
Each community has a clubhouse, where residents may take part in activities such as bridge, bingo and happy hour. Features include covered porches, screened porches, finished upstairs bonus rooms, finished basements, appliance packages, fireplaces, hardwood, tile and slate flooring.
Homes range from $250,000 to $350,000 with customization options available at the communities that were developed between 2005 and 2007.
Soleil Laurel Canyon
Located 50 miles north of Atlanta on I-575, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Soleil Laurel Canyon (soleillaurelcanyon.com) is one of six subdivisions in the planned 1,000-acre Laurel Canyon master development.
The 350-acre development – with nearly 300 homes built today and a total of 728 planned – is an age-restricted property for those 55 and older.
Today, more than 500 residents – average age of 64 – according to Mike Kinsey, senior sales consultant, call Soleil Laurel Canyon home. Kinsey believes 90 percent are fully retired, while the remaining 10 percent work either full time or part time.
“What I hear from people about 30 days after they move in is ‘I had to learn to say no.’ And they say ‘we can’t do everything.’ It’s incredibly active.”
After all, Soleil Laurel Canyon offers a $12 million amenity package: to include a 28,000-square-foot clubhouse, ballroom, fitness center, tennis center, card room, craft room, fitness center, teaching kitchen and more. A full-time tennis professional (paid for by the homeowners’ association) and lifestyle directors also are on hand.
With 14 different floor plans – ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 square feet – two-bedroom, two-bath homes are priced between $227,900 and $400,000 with features including granite countertops, tres ceilings, his and her closets, his and her vanities, separate tubs and showers, finished and unfinished basements and hardwood flooring.
Kinsey says the first residents moved in to Soleil in July 2006 and the complete buildout should take roughly five years.
A full-time designer is on hand at the on-site design center.

Del Webb
Three metro Atlanta active adult communities are available through home builder Del Webb Communities (delwebb.com). They are Sun City Peachtree in Griffin, Village at Deaton Creek in Hoschton and Del Webb at Lake Oconee in Greensboro. At Del Webb, at least one resident should be 55, with no one under age 19.
On 1700-plus acres of Georgia landscape and botanical gardens, Sun City Peachtree offers the 18-hole Canongate Golf Course & Club, a 45,700-square-foot clubhouse featuring a full fitness center with an indoor walking track, indoor heated lap pool, outdoor resort style pool, teaching kitchen, ballroom, billiards and cards room, arts and crafts studio and library. Recreational offerings include a tennis complex with five courts, bocce ball courts, pickle ball courts, community garden, dog park, grandchildren’s playground and walking trails. A sports director and lifestyle director – who organizes events and club functions monthly – also are on hand.
North of Atlanta in Hoschton, Village at Deaton Creek is nestled in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains.  It includes a 35,000-square-foot clubhouse featuring a full fitness center, indoor heated lap pool, outdoor lagoon style pool, library, billiards room, arts and crafts studio, grand ballroom with a teaching kitchen, aerobics and dance studio and club/social room.  Outdoors, Village at Deaton Creek offers much of the same as at Sun City Peachtree, along with a stocked catch-and-release fishing pond and horseshoe pits.
The only Del Webb community nationwide with direct lake access, Del Webb at Lake Oconee is east of Atlanta in Greensboro.  Here, you’ll find a 30,000-square-foot clubhouse with a full fitness center, indoor heated lap pool, outdoor resort style pool, library, grand ballroom, teaching kitchen, arts and crafts studio and game room.
With 15 floor plans available, Sun City Peachtree homes are priced between $130,000 and $300,000, with square footage ranging between 1,103 and 2,597.
Pricing at Village at Deaton Creek homes is between $180,000 and $300,000 with 14 floor plans ranging in square footage from 1,200 to 2,597.
Twelve floor plans – square footage between 1,200 and 2,597 – are available at Del Webb at Lake Oconee, where homes are between $160,000 and $300,000. Attached Villa homes at Lake Oconee also are available.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.