BRAMBLETON, ONE OF THE nation's first fiber-optic–wired communities, is proving to be forward-thinking in more ways than one. The 2,000-acre planned unit development is one of several in Loudoun County, Va., proffering land deals that promise not just the usual funds for schools and roads but also housing for the disabled.
The group home in Brambleton—the sixth in the county to be initiated by a builder—is an ADA-accessible dwelling that was factored into the site plan at the permit stage. “Normally, the county has to buy a house at market rate and convert it for use as a group home,” notes Steve Schulte, vice president of The Brambleton Group. In this case, building a home from scratch allowed for a more intuitive floor plan and relieved the county of purchasing costs, as well as the extra expenditures associated with retrofitting.
Centex Homes modified one of its existing home plans to create the six-bedroom, 4,800-square-foot home (valued at approximately $750,000), which opened to six residents in June. A wheelchair ramp hidden by a brick wall reads as a natural outgrowth of the front elevation, and a cathedral foyer was repurposed with a 12-foot ceiling to create additional living space on the second floor.
Operating expenses for group homes are borne by the local government. For Loudoun County residents with mental retardation, group housing has proved less costly and more empowering than institutionalization. “What this setting offers is a vastly higher quality of life,” says Tom Maynard, executive director of the county's Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services.