Mayor Stephen Keary seated beside the longest term resident Ann Reidy, and other residents at the launch of Cois Carraig in Clarina | Picture: Michael Cowhey
THE ribbon has been cut on Cois Carraig in Clarina village which is the first development of its kind in County Limerick - a housing estate aimed specifically at the over 50s.
When ATG Properties took over what was an unfinished estate three years ago, there were briars and trees growing in the windows of the houses and half constructed trenches on the open ground.
“From an aesthetic perspective and from a health and safety perspective, it was a disaster so with the assistance of Limerick County Council we got together and we’ve developed it to a stage where we now have 18 houses built and we have a further 30 to go,” explained Muriel O'Sullivan, managing director of ATG Properties.
“There is a mixture of couples and single people. The only requirement that we have is that you must be over 50 years of age.”
Widow Ann Reidy was the first resident to move into the estate 10 years ago.
“I will be here 10 years in December because the whole project collapsed and was sitting there. I was looking out at it for all those years and then ATG Properties along came and took it over and now it’s brilliant. I was there on my own for about seven or eight months until Bill Davis arrived. As time went on, more were occupied,” the 71-year-old explained.
“I just love the camaraderie - we all know everyone. It’s just a lovely community. It’s perfect. We have an active retirement club and you are only six minutes from the city, you have a supermarket across the road and it’s in off the road. I feel like I’ve come back home.”
To the best of Muriel O’Sullivan’s knowledge, a development of this kind hasn’t been done before in Limerick.
“We inherited that idea (aiming the development at the over 50s) because we bought an unfinished estate and that clause was in it,” Ms O’Sullivan explained.
“We have two estates in one here, we have Cois Carraig which is two-bedroom dormer homes for over 50s and Cluain Aoibh which is three-bedroom semi-detached. This element here, when we bought it, that was a stipulation that was in the planning permission and it’s attached to the title so if somebody who is over 50 buys a home and they want to sell it in three years’ time they must again sell it to somebody who is over the age of 50.”
At the moment, nine of the homes in Cois Carraig are occupied.
“They buy them outright. To be honest, we are selling them faster than we can build them. There are three left at €183,000 and in the second phase they will probably be at around €190,000,” said Ms O’Sullivan.
It is anticipated, she added, that they will be completed within 18 months to two years.
A report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has suggested that empty nesters be encouraged to downsize and free up housing for first-time buyers struggling to get on the first step of the property ladder.
“I would say 80% of people who have moved in here so far have sold their own house to move in,” explained Ms O’Sullivan, “so they are freeing up three and four bed family homes.
“From a national interest perspective, in terms of addressing the housing issue, when you consider that all of these people are leaving a three or four bedroom house then it’s a quicker way of housing families.
“It’s a quicker way for people like Minister Eoghan Murphy to address the housing shortage,” said Ms O'Sullivan.