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Aging in the Perfect Place — Peachtree Corners

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Retiring in Peachtree Corners
Above: When Bob and Lori Howard decided to downsize, it was important for them to remain in the Peachtree Corners community they love. They searched until they found the right house and renovated it into their retirement home. Photos by Mark McGovern

Once Lori and Bob Howard’s kids moved out, the couple decided they needed to trade in their 5,000-square-foot Peachtree Corners home for a smaller one.

But finding their perfect place wasn’t easy. The Howards had specific requirements: a master bedroom suite on the first floor and a full basement that Bob could finish. And they wanted to stay in Peachtree Corners because they’d lived in the area for decades and really liked it.

“We’ve got a lot of friends here,” Bob Howard said. “We’re involved with a lot of activities here in the city of Peachtree Corners. I particularly like that it’s a mix of residential [neighborhoods] with some more urban areas. It’s just a very nice community.”

A new home for a new phase of life

The Howards looked at houses for sale all over the place. At one point, Lori Howard said, they even dropped fliers in the mailboxes of houses that weren’t on the market but looked like likely prospects, asking that if the owners ever decided to sell, they give the Howards a call. The couple checked out more than 30 homes before they located one that fit the bill. “A first-floor master with a basement was nearly impossible to find,” Lori Howard said.

They finally settled on a house in the Forest Hills subdivision, which Lori Howard describes as “kind of an empty nester community” of cluster homes. The house wasn’t perfect, they said, but it offered nearly everything they needed. “We got this house because it was going to be our retirement home,” Bob Howard said.

Like other retirees who are long-time residents of Peachtree Corners, the Howards plan to stay put as they grow older.

The aging population

Other Peachtree Corners residents appear to be making the same decision. U.S. Census estimates show that while the population of the city has increased by 8 percent to 9 percent over the past five years, the number of residents aged 65 or older has increased by nearly half.

During the five years from 2013 to 1017, the portion of population aged 65 and older increased to about 10 percent from about 7.5 percent, and the city’s median age increased to 36.4 from 35.3, according to the Census. And the city’s Comprehensive Plan predicts that “those aged 55 and above will make up increasingly greater shares of the population” in coming years.
Some older residents say it’s easy to understand why they’ve grown attached to Peachtree Corners.

“This is my community,” said Henry Wischusen, a 66-year-old who grew up near Boston, moved to Gwinnett County in 1979 and then settled in 1993 in the area that later would become Peachtree Corners.

“I am an avid cyclist,” he said. “We have a wonderful bike lane right there on [Ga.] 141. I love the convenience of the stores and the new town center. I love the wooded walks we have, the wild animals. I really like the nature.”

Some retirement options

Wischusen liked living in Peachtree Corners so much that he brought his parents up from their retirement home in Florida when they needed looking after. His father has since died, but his 99-year-old his mother lives nearby in Village Place, one of several assisted living facilities existing or planned in the community.

She moved there when she could no longer get around in his home, he said. “She likes it that her family is available to her,” he said.

Now he and his wife are thinking of bringing her parents to the area. “I am definitely aging in place,” Wischusen said.

So is Paulette Couch. “I do plan to stay,” she said.

When her family moved in 35 years ago, their house was new and the community seemed “really far out” from the city, she said. But they settled in and raised a family there. Now her children and their families live in neighboring communities, she said, and her neighbors on her cul-de-sac haven’t changed.

“I love Peachtree Corners. I love how it’s grown,” the 68-year-old said. “It’s grown into something really wonderful. … I love where I am. This is just a wonderful, wonderful neighborhood.”

The home of their dreams

The Howards seem to agree. It took a bit of work, but they found the house they wanted and remade it to fit their dreams.

For safety, they had state-of-the-art security installed in every window and door, as well as three cameras positioned in the front and back. “The subdivision is known for its strong neighborhood watch organization,” Lori Howard said. “We took this into account when we chose our cluster home with a first-floor master on a full basement.”

Bob Howard, a retired engineer, did much of the renovation work himself. When they were done, they had an additional bathroom, a new deck, a waterfall out back, a remodeled kitchen and a finished basement that included a theater room, a workshop and a bar made with Honduran mahogany that Bob’s dad had collected during World War II, according to Lori Howard.

“We found this house that needed a total renovation,” Lori Howard said. “We’ve renovated everything in this house and it’s fabulous.”
And they plan to stay put and enjoy it. ■

Veteran newspaperman Joe Earle has covered Georgia and Atlanta and its suburbs since the 1980s. Before that, he worked for newspapers in Kansas and South Carolina.

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City Government

Memorial Day – City Hall Closed, Waste Collection Delayed One Day

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City Hall will be closed on Monday, May 27 in observance of Memorial Day. City Hall will resume normal business hours, (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.) on Tuesday, May 28.

Memorial Day is a trash and recycling holiday for Waste Management; the collection will be delayed by one day for the entire week (i.e. Monday’s collection will be on Tuesday; Tuesday’s on Wednesday; Wednesday’s on Thursday; Thursday’s on Friday; and Friday’s on Saturday.)

Please have your trash at the curb by 6:00 a.m. on your collection day.

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Community

An Evening with Commissioner Ben Ku

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Presented by the Gwinnett County Public Library, Commissioner Ku will speak at the Peachtree Corners Branch, 5570 Spalding Drive, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092 on Thursday, May 23 at 7:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

Commissioner Ben Ku was elected to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in 2018 and serves District 2 which includes Peachtree Corners, Berkeley Lake, Norcross, Tucker, and Lilburn. Commissioner Ku is a Georgia native and the grandson of Chinese immigrants, who moved to Atlanta to help engineer the original MARTA heavy rail system.

Join Ben Ku to hear about his vision for Gwinnett County.

For more information, please visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154.

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City Government

Councilmember Sadd Among 2019 Leadership Gwinnett Graduating Class

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Phil Sadd

Councilmember Phil Sadd, who represents Post 1, is among the 39 local leaders to graduate from the Leadership Gwinnett Class of 2019.

Sadd was selected last spring for the prestigious nine-month program that began in August 2018. The class represented diverse industries including education, law, corporate, nonprofit, technology, health care, politics and government. All who graduate are more knowledgeable about the issues and challenges facing Gwinnett County and are more connected to the county’s decision makers and leaders, according to a 2018 Deloitte alumni impact survey.

“I entered into the leadership Gwinnett program already in a leadership position and feeling like I was doing the most I could,” said Sadd. “Leadership Gwinnett was the key to unlocking my additional growth. Because of the connections I’ve made and things I’ve learned, my potential has expanded.”

The Leadership Gwinnett program is designed to educate, equip and engage diverse leaders and inspire civic involvement. During the program the class participated in two major retreats, eight monthly study groups and seven learning days.The program included presentations from 150 speakers covering topics such as leadership in a world class community, infrastructure, economics, education, and health & human services.

“We are proud that Phil was selected to be part of the Leadership Gwinnett Class of 2019,” said Mayor Mike Mason. “I know he benefitted immensely by participating and undoubtedly, the city will benefit as well.”

Leadership Gwinnett’s vision is to develop a thriving community sustained by an inclusive network of empowered leaders. Participants greatly understand civic and social issues and leverage their connections for Gwinnett’s greater good. From its founding in 1985, nearly 1,200 have graduated from the program.

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