Frank and Dottie Brock know what they like, they understand themselves and how they fit into their community. They are among a growing number of “the unretired”—seniors who are highly engaged in community life through self-directed projects— both physically fit and active.
As early investors in Brow Wood they helped shape the vision for the Lookout Mountain, Georgia community, located only a mile beyond Covenant College where Frank served as president for many years. He points out the development is not an enclave, but an active neighborhood of people who have come from all over the country for various reasons, choosing this place for its access to aesthetic amenities.
“The whole idea is not to move here to hide away, but to be involved,” says Frank. “We think it’s healthier to go out into the community for activities.” The nearby college provides con- certs and lectures, sports and seasonal holiday events. The campus is manageable in scale and offers a broad range of cultural opportunities. “There’s a golf course just 10 minutes away, for those who are interested,” he adds. He points to a number of healthy lifestyle interests. The hearty hiker will enjoy a network of trails from Reflection Riding on the west side of the mountain to Chickamauga Park on the east side. Chickamauga is the nation’s first military park, naturally appealing to history buffs. For birders, the area is on the Eastern flyway for many species.
Within the neighborhood, there is community gardening, casual walking, and a bocci ball court next to an outdoor pavilion. The pavilion is the scene of occasional barbecues and commands a stunning view across a broad valley with a series of ridges that rise to the Cumberland Plateau. The only word for the brow is—well, breathtaking. Some residents even take advantage of morning yoga on the bluff.
From one end of Scenic Highway to another, local restaurants offer a range of dining options. The award-winning Canyon Grill serves the freshest seafood and meats, as well as local produce, under the direction of Chef Johnny Holland. Hickory grilled scallops, Pompano and specialties like Chioppino, a rich broth made of shellfish, shrimp and halibut top a distinctive menu at the mountaintop restaurant. Down on the Tennessee side, the Café on the Corner serves modern Southern cuisine and is open for lunch and dinner except on Mondays.
Large groups often enjoy going over to the cafeteria at Covenant College, according to Brock.
In fact, the college has much to offer. One of the homeowners is a huge basketball fan, so he has season tickets to Covenant’s games. Each year there are theatre performances, plus soccer and volleyball games on the calendar.
Concerts, chorales and lectures offer plenty of intellectual stimulation to these residents who are among a steady stream of baby boomers drawn to retire in towns near colleges. In fact, says the AARP’s Nancy Thompson in a 2013 USA Today article, many developers are building retirement communities with affiliations to universities in college towns. Certain campus activities and courses of interest (many may be audited) are attractive to them.
“It’s a generation that values continuous learning,” says Thompson. “They want to continue to be involved and continue to learn. Baby Boomers may end up redefining what retirement means.”
Similarly in Chattanooga, real estate developer Scenic Land Company, has developed the Brow Wood neighborhood with just that thought in mind.
“We think it’s a great idea,” says IV Whitman of Scenic Land Company. He notes the attraction of nearby Sewanee, Tennessee, which has been cited, nationally, as a college town with traditional small town atmosphere and an appealing place to retire. Lookout Mountain, Georgia with its population of just over 1,600, and even closer to Chattanooga, echoes this trend.
According to a 2010 report by Retirement Places, college retirement communities take a number of forms, ranging from luxury housing and attractive condos to Continuing Care Retirement Communities with apartment-style living and access to health care facilities.
The developers of Brow Wood were thinking along the same lines when they included a phase of independent townhomes on the Woodland side of the property. Townhomes within Woodland offer one-level, open living floor plans with the same quality finishes and amenities as the homes in its collection of custom dwellings.
Brow Wood has added an assisted living facility on the Woodland side called, Thrive. Thrive Assisted Living and Memory Care opened in April, 2016. Executive Director Carole Minninger believes Thrive is a place where residents are engaged, still living lives of activity, choice, and significance. Social events, dining, wellness activities, housekeeping, laundry services, shopping and leisure excursions are all included in a monthly rate. Month-to-month and short term leases are common and guests may come and go as residents like. Memory care is available in another wing of the facility.
Scenic Land Company has four properties in the Chattanooga area, and all reflect thoughtful planning. They are Singing Sisters Falls, Oakbrook and Hillock Farms.
“The 50 lots in the Brow Wood community are almost 50 percent sold,” says Whitman. The houses may range in size from 1,800 square-feet to 5,000 square-feet, offering plenty of options for potential residents. Duane Horton with GenTech Construction is the developer.
”We provide a unique level of service for each project and each client,” he says. ”We appreciate how complicated the dynamics between owners, architects and contractors can be. Since 2002, GenTech has worked to provide clear pathways for communication, concept, development and construction on a range of residential projects.” The company works with a wide range of subcontractors, although it is the primary builder. Thoughtful amenities include lush landscaping and carefully selected sites for the homes.
The results of all the irrigation and landscape design appeal to Dottie, an avid gardener. “We didn’t have irrigation in our other homes before, and especially in a dry autumn like this one, it has been been wonderful.”
Seven of the first 10 home-owners were from other states. They all bring something different to the community and Frank says each resident has talents to share with the community. He tells about a family practice physician who moved with his wife from Sylvania, Georgia.
“Dr. Kent loved birds and liked to build and hang birdhouses, but was surprised by the amount of wind we get on top of Lookout,” says Frank, with a chuckle. “Three or four months and a few birdhouses later, he got it right.”
The mountain weather is slightly different from the valley below and the West Brow on Lookout Mountain is dramatic. “We’ve been here three years and we love it,” says Dottie. “It’s similar to being at the beach, there’s a different sunset each night!”