Dave Spiker, owner, manager and builder of Golden Spike Estates, researched senior living communities throughout the West before he and his father, home builder John Spiker, broke ground on Rathdrum’s first Planned Unit Development in 1999.
Ten years later, it appears his research on 55-plus communities paid off for the residents of Golden Spike. In fact, it’s tough to figure out who is more excited about Golden Spike today – Spiker himself, or the 150 residents of the well-maintained, active adult community he designed.
The PUD is unique among active senior living neighborhoods in the area, according to Spiker. “The key thing,” he said, “is the use of the Freddie Mac Land Lease Program which helps lower the cost of the homes.” Residents of the PUD contract with Glacier Homes, another Spiker family business, to build a custom home, and then lease the property upon which it sits.
As a result, residents pay less up front and assume a reasonable monthly fee (currently $275) that includes city water and sewer, garbage pickup, street lights and maintenance, an outdoor RV parking space, Wi-Fi Internet service and lot taxes.
Also included in this monthly lease fee is full use of Golden Spike’s clubhouse, a 12,000-square-foot building that includes an indoor swimming pool, exercise room, Jacuzzi, sauna, 200-seat ballroom, meeting rooms, billiards/craft room, computer lab, beauty salon, library, and an outdoor barbecue and fire pit. Use of the building and other amenities also is extended to friends and family of residents at no charge.
A pet park, 9-hole chip golf course and a “people park” are due to open as soon as the snow melts in another couple of weeks according to an optimistic Spiker, who strives to add amenities he believes residents will enjoy whenever possible.
Quality of the energy efficient, low-maintenance homes he builds is another feature that makes Golden Spike stand out, according to Spiker. “I build the best homes,” he said. He prides himself on using top quality building and insulation materials, and working with each customer to create a home that fits individual needs and budget.
With 60 floor plans to choose from, Spiker says he doesn’t mind “tweaking” any of them to give his customers just what they want. “And what they want,” according to Spiker, “isn’t what you think.”
He has discovered the majority of 55-plus home owners wish to downsize, but are looking to “downsize the outside, not the inside.” They want lower maintenance and a smaller yard, not necessarily less square footage; and Spiker gives them what they want.
Building homes as “safe and user-friendly as possible” is another of Spiker’s goals. Each home is built with wider hallways, 36-inch doors, low-step showers and a lowered foundation that allows an entryway without steps.
“The most popular plan is between 1,400-1,500 square feet,” said Spiker, “and includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a nice office and a garage.”
Residents, about half of whom are retired, share Spiker’s enthusiasm for the quiet, secure community in which they live; their safe, energy efficient homes; and the active lifestyle and sense of community GSE offers.
“Good neighbors, good amenities, and good management are what I like about living at Golden Spike Estates,” said resident Gene Popham.
Fifty percent of GSE residents are from local communities, while the other 50 percent hail from more than a dozen states, including Maryland, Florida and New York.
“Moving here was the best thing we ever did,” said a resident, one of a group of women painting delicate designs on memory boxes as part of a community service project.
“The most wonderful thing is that the minute you move here, you have 20 friends, if you want them,” said another.
Marge Huddleston moved back to the area from Boise about five years ago. She found the “secure, friendly, neighborhood where there would be people my age” she was looking for at Golden Spike. “I love living here,” she said. “It’s a very comfortable place to be.”
No resident can talk about Golden Spike for more than 30 seconds without rattling off a list of his or her favorite amenities. There are monthly potlucks, root beer float nights, water aerobic classes and exercise classes, crafts and billiards and an ever growing list of special interest groups. There are fly-tying, Bible study, craft and Weight Watcher groups. One group of ladies that meet at Pleasant Land Books just to socialize every Saturday morning has grown to nearly 25 “regulars.”
“It’s just really friendly and you can be as involved as you want to be,” said Huddleston.
Despite the lackluster home building market, the PUD has continued to attract buyers. Spiker recently sold two show homes and currently has two custom homes on the drawing board, as well as a list of more than two dozen folks who plan to become residents of GSE as soon as their current homes are sold.
And Spiker is enthusiastic about the future. “Despite the home market decline, our home prices have held up better than any other local market,” he said. “That is due to good planning, fair home pricing, quality materials and a focus on customer service.”
He recently spent some time designing a couple of 800 to 900 square-foot cottages, just in case current economic woes may cause Americans to re-think their need for larger homes and begin a trend to truly downsize.
“I give them what they want,” he said.