$4 million in improvements planned for Leisure World - East Valley Tribune: Business

$4 million in improvements planned for Leisure World

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Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2003 8:36 pm | Updated: 1:23 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

It may be called Leisure World, but ongoing improvements and renovations at the 30-year-old retirement community are geared more toward active lifestyles.

Last week, the community opened a its new, $1.1 million fitness center, which includes $250,000 in state-of-the-art equipment. In all, about $4 million in capital improvements are planned for the 900-plus acre community that opened in 1973 on Power Road between Southern Avenue and Broadway Road.

“It's one of the first retirement communities that came along, and I think our board of directors, the capital improvement committee and others were well-aware of the fact that the newer retirement communities that are starting to open around here have newer and perhaps in a way different sorts of features than Leisure World could offer,” said Jon Devner, community manager.

World War II-era retirees originally populated Leisure World, but the time had come for the community to start gearing up for attracting baby boomers, said Dick Steckelberg. He serves as chairman of the chairs a capital improvement committee appointed by the community's board of directors to recommend the upgrades.

“Being 30 years old, some of our facilities had fallen way behind, and obviously the baby boomers coming in probably see the world a little differently than the World War II folks,” he said. “So we're trying to operate with an eye to the future as well.”

In February 2001, Leisure World's board appointed the capital improvement committee, which promptly began surveying residents, and talking to real estate and marketing experts at Arizona State University. It also examined the latest studies of baby boomers and what they are looking for in active-adult communities, Devner said.

The committee also looked at what features active-adult developers such as Del Webb and Farnsworth Homes are including in their developments.

“The No. 1 thing that these communities were doing was putting up a first-class fitness center,” Steckelberg said. “We had two separate fitness rooms, which were poorly equipped and did not have enough space, and were rather dismal places.”

Other upgrades include renovating the community's recreation centers and building a new clubhouse at the executive golf course.

“We're trying to anticipate what the younger folks who might be interested in this type of community would like to see,” Steckelberg said. “That's basically where we are headed.”

Over the years, Leisure World has been renovated, but nothing has been as dramatic as the new fitness center, Devner said.

“This looks more like something you'd find at LA Fitness or World Gym,” he said.

The improvements should give Leisure World an edge in competing with newer communities for home buyers, Steckelberg said.

“By golly, the fitness center is attracting new people who are buying here rather than somewhere else,” he said. “Our major goal is to enhance the value of the community, the services of the community for those who are presently here, but we're also interested in attracting active adults to this community so we can keep it going.”

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