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Flagstaff Making List for Top Retirement Cities

Flagstaff may not be known as a hot spot for retirees, but a recent article in the U.S. News & World Report lists this mountain town as one of the 10 best places to retire in 2012.

Former Sedona resident Diane Kalas, who is 70 years old, says moving to Flagstaff to retire about eight years ago was one of the best things she has ever done.

“My daughter is in Flagstaff. I love all of the wonderful activities in town. I always go to the First Friday Art Walk. In the summer, I enjoy the functions in Wheeler Park – it’s just a friendly town,” she said.

“I like fishing, being outside, I like Flagstaff a lot, and I don’t mind the snow at all,” she said. Kalas was a long-time volunteer for hospice and now spends time helping others through her church.

The U.S. News & World Report article says, “Flagstaff’s high altitude and low humidity generally leads to a pleasant four-season climate throughout most of the year. The temperature seldom rises above 90 degrees. The sun shines in Flagstaff an average of 78 percent of the year, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data.” Bob and Susan Barrie, 68 and 69 respectively, retired to Flagstaff in May 2007. “We moved from the Dallas area because Flagstaff offers cross-country skiing, mountain biking, and it is a university town,” he said. They volunteer at the Museum of Northern Arizona. He added that he is puzzled that the magazine would highlight Flagstaff even with the heavy snow, but he says they have no regrets about relocating here. He also believes seniors make good neighbors. “We love it here and enjoy helping others in the community,” he said.

Like many people who relocate to Flagstaff, Barrie also noted the area’s expensive real estate.

A Phoenix developer is addressing the need for affordable housing for seniors. The director of real estate services for The Foundation for Senior Living, Steve Hastings, said they paid $2.2 million for a seven and half acre site on McMillan Mesa, across from the new BASIS School.

The facility, to be called Flagstaff Senior Meadows, will have enough apartments for 60 one-story senior apartments and later, 24 to 32 additional apartments. The limited partner investor for the project is Boston Capital Corp. The property will provide 46 one-bedroom and 14 two-bedroom units. “As with most of our properties, all utilities will be paid by the landlord and rents will range from $456 to $822, well below the market rents for the area. Plus, we’ll have stunning views of the San Francisco Peaks,” Hastings added. The Foundation manages 15 other adult properties in Arizona, including one recently completed in Show Low.

“The property is funded in large part by the Arizona Department of Housing with HOME funds and Low Income Housing Tax Credits. In exchange for these funds to help with construction, the rents will remain affordable to our residents for no less than 30 years and only goes up if incomes go up. The units are not subsidized and will not be receiving project based operating subsidies in the future,” he said.

“Additional funding was received in the form of an $800,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank for an application sponsored by Alliance Bank, our construction lender,” Hastings added. “This is our first senior apartment complex in Flagstaff. It is not a nursing home or assisted living facility.”

While Arizona has long been known as a retirement haven, Flagstaff has not. If the city’s recent ranking as a retirement destination reflects an actual shift in values among retirees, Flagstaff may see a growing number of senior citizens in the future. That shift would create unique needs from city services, health care and housing.

In the meantime, retiree Diane Kalas says she stays very busy, enjoys all of the activities offered in Flagstaff and has no plan to leave. This is her home. FBN






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