By Pat Curry. The age-qualified section of the Pelican Point master planned community, The Greens is the first active adult community in the state, says Doug Diez, managing partner of Pelican Point Properties LLC.

"It's a household word in New Jersey, Arizona, and Florida, but this is brand new for Louisiana," Diez says. "We're having to educate the market." The company is working with various newspapers and the retirement division of the lieutenant governor's office to help introduce the concept to the buying public and to encourage development of more active adult communities in the state.

Located 12 miles from Baton Rouge and 37 miles from New Orleans, Pelican Point is well located to attract empty nesters who are still working. The site takes advantage of the region's reputation for excellent fishing; residents make regular use of its 36 stocked lakes. They also have made use of the low cost f housing in Louisiana; a full third of the residents have moved there from other states with much higher housing costs.

Even with home sites on lakes and the golf courses, the prices on houses in The Greens range from $150,000 to $250,000.

The Greens at Pelican Point 500 Units or Less

Location: Gonzales, La.
Developer: Pelican Point Properties LLC and MIE Properties
Builder: Acadian Builders
Date opened: September 2001
Number of acres: 100
Number of units sold: 32
Number of units at build-out: 400
Anticipated build-out date: 2009
Sales velocity: 12 units per month*
*The Greens opened the same month as the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; sales accelerated in 2002 and the development anticipates selling 36 units in 2003.

Part of the appeal for residents, Diez says, is the emphasis on community-building activities. In a survey, residents were asked about things they'd like to do in the coming year. Responses included progressive dinners, seafood boils, fish fries ("South Louisiana is known for its eating," Diez says), joke-telling afternoons, old movie nights, new neighbor get-togethers, and walking groups. For developers of smaller communities, the message is that while facilities are important, you can provide tremendous value through facilitation. The Greens residents have been enthusiastic about programs arranged by the community's staff, such as having a chef come in and teach classes on regional cooking or organized volunteer activities.

Margaret Wylde, who nominated The Greens, cited its elegant homes with private courtyard areas and low-maintenance yards. She praised the model homes and the floor plans of the units, which emphasize efficiency and low maintenance while maintaining luxury.

Sales have been steady, she notes, in spite of the fact that an active adult, golf course community is an unknown commodity in the market. At the time of her nomination, 25 homes were occupied and 10 were under construction, "pretty good," she says, "for a small town south of Baton Rouge."

Residents of The Greens have their own private clubhouse with fitness center and indoor pool, plus access to the all-ages amenities. The gated community has a separate entrance which means "you don't need to drive through streets where children might be riding their bicycles," Wylde says.

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