by Aaron Burns

HUNTERSVILLE – Don’t expect the 65-and-older population in the area to decrease any time soon.

The town’s 65-and-older population figures to be much larger in the next 20 years, according to the town’s 2030 Community Plan. The plan states that the area’s aging prompts a need for more assisted living facilities for seniors.

The 2010 U.S. Census showed 3,134 residents ages 65 or older. By 2030, that number is expected to be around 10,500. Town Manager Greg Ferguson said the town’s growth and increase in new residents will in turn increase the market for assisted living communities.

“I think with more and more families moving to the area, there seems to be an increase in parents moving closer to their families to be near their grandkids,” he said. “This results in needing (residential) options as they age.”

Hunter Village, a 68-bed facility located at 111 S. Church St., Huntersville, has been around for more than 18 years, administrator Amy Hart said. As of this week, Hunter Village had just three rooms open.

A 2010 federal government study found 31,100 assisted living facilities in the country, serving more than 730,000 people. They’re likely to soon be joined by more facilities that offer similar amenities to Hunter Village, such as personal care and assistance and therapeutic help.

Carillon Assisted Living, a Raleigh-based company with 14 assisted living facilities across the state, wants to build a 96-bed, two-story facility off Commerce Drive. A public hearing for Carillon’s proposal was held on Nov. 5 and the town planning board will discuss the plan at its Nov. 27 meeting.

A semi-private room in Hunter Village costs $2,200 per month, while a private room costs $2,500 per month. Carillon’s rates would be similar.

“It’s a residence for the fairly wealthy,” Carillon Vice President of Development Robert Steenson said. “This (would not be) a nursing home or a medical facility.”

It would, however, be another step toward solving the issue of elderly people needing homes in the area before the problem gets worse.

The increase in elderly population will also increase, but there will also be a higher demand for smaller homes for seniors looking to continue to live in a house.

The plan states the need for assisted living communities “will drive the market and may require accommodations by the (town), both in terms of its development regulations as well as its service delivery.

“Since the elderly population is living longer and healthier lives, at least a portion of this population may desire to live in smaller single-family homes in mixed-use areas, rather than exclusively in retirement communities or congregate care type facilities.”

The assisted living facilities throughout the town will probably be the biggest immediate requirement, Hart said.

“I believe there’s certainly going to be a higher need,” she said. “The baby boomers are getting older. Just to be able to open (an assisted living facility), you have to have a certificate of need from the state. And with places getting those, it shows there is that much of a (market) for them.”

Town Principal Planner Zachary Gordon said Huntersville has been a desirable location for all housing types.

“With the continued influx of retirees to our area, along with the higher demographic profile for area residents, I would expect the trend for all types of senior housing (from single family to assisted living) to increase over the next 10-15 years.”