David Werner used to enjoy yard work, including talking care of 300 to 400 hostas around his home in Edwardsville's Ginger Creek.
But the retired Southern Illinois University Edwardsville chancellor and his wife, Kay, opted to move to Brookshire Hamlet three years ago. It's a "maintenance-free" subdivision, where a homeowner's association is responsible for all grass mowing, landscaping, fertilizing and snow removal.
"You reach the point where you want to do some traveling," said Werner, 75. "You can hire people (for lawn care), but they never quite do it to the standards you want."
Brookshire Hamlet is one of several maintenance-free subdivisions being developed in the metro-east, most by Edwardsville-based Spencer Homes.
The concept isn't new, but developments traditionally have consisted of attached villas, where each homeowner shares a wall with another homeowner.
Brookshire Hamlet consists of unattached, single-family homes. Ten of the total 18 have been completed, and one is under construction.
"I saw the desire by people who wanted this type of lifestyle but didn't want to share a wall," said Mike Rathgeb, owner of Spencer Homes.
Prices in Brookshire Hamlet range from the low $400,000s to the low $600,000s. Rathgeb also is developing @Cloverdale in Edwardsville, a maintenance-free subdivision with homes from the $280,000s to the low $400,000s.
Its "target audience" is people of all ages, including retirees. young professionals and families who don't have much free time for yard work between music lessons and sports games.
An open house will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at a craftsman-style, three-bedroom, two-bath home with a partially finished basement in @Cloverdale. It's listed for $299,000. The address is 1873 Cloverdale Drive.
"We are inviting the public to tour the home, check out the area and truly get a feel for this type of simplified living," said agent Tara Riggs, of Re/Max Alliance.
She noted that the subdivision is located in the heart of Edwardsville, between Esic Drive and Illinois 159, with direct access to the Madison County Transit system of bike trails.
Plans call for the 15-acre subdivision to eventually have 42 homes and a 2/3-acre common green space. Nine homes are completed and occupied. Six are under construction, and two of the six are for sale.
"The customer owns (the land) where their home sits, plus rights to a limited common area surrounding the home," Rathgeb said. "The balance is considered the neighborhood common area, and all the grounds are maintained by the homeowner's association."
Each homeowner pays a fee of $75 a month.
Spencer Homes also is developing two other maintenance-free subdivisions, Augusta Greens and The Enclave at Augusta Greens, at Milburn School and Old Collinsville roads in O'Fallon.
The former will be geared toward families with children and the latter to retirees and empty nesters.
"We build our homes with long-term accessibility in mind," Rathgeb said. "... The population 65 and over will double in the next 20 years, according to government statistics."
Single-story homes have wider-than-normal doorways and hallways, no steps leading from garages to kitchens, and showers that accommodate people with mobility issues. Those features appealed to the Werners, whose former home in Ginger Creek was a two-story.
"We thought it was time to to find something that was more friendly to seniors," David Werner said. "If you had some sort of illness or injury, you might have trouble getting upstairs."
Rathgeb has agreed to donate $10 for each person who attends the open house to Edwardsville Neighbors, a nonprofit organization that helps local families with medical and emergency hardships. There also will be refreshments and a chance to win St. Louis Cardinals baseball tickets.