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With Aging Population, Elevators More Popular in New Homes

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By Alison Burdo

(MCT)—Developers are luring downsizing baby boomers with elevators, a luxury feature that offers convenience now and the promise of easier movement as they age.

Business for Newtown, Pa.-based Bell Elevator Co. Inc. is up 25 percent over the last year, said Tom Reavy, owner of the six-year-old residential-elevator firm.

The aging U.S. population and the lower cost of installation — about $25,000 now compared with nearly $60,000 two decades ago — are two factors driving elevators’ growing popularity, Reavy said.

In real estate, targeting the over-55 demographic once meant single-story ranchers. But today, the lifts — which are still popular in suburban mansions — are becoming more common in townhouse developments, he said.

The National Association of Elevator Contractors did not have figures on the increasing presence of elevators in the home, but local industry observers agreed that the demand for them has grown.

Of the 27 completed Artisan Townhouses along the 1400 blocks of Bainbridge, Pemberton and Kater Streets in Philadelphia, 13 have elevators, said Scott Neifel, sales manager of Philadelphia-based Plumer & Associates Inc. Realtors.

The lone unsold property does not have an elevator, and, Neifel said, it probably would have sold if it had one. All eight homes in the next phase, which will begin in February at the southwest corner of Broad and Fitzwater Streets, will include elevators, he added.

“We are seeing them in just about any new development over a certain height,” said Matt Pincus, owner of West Chester, Pa.-based Pincus Elevator Co.

Elevators are a feature often expected in newly constructed homes of four stories or more, Pincus said.

An elevator can serve as a “glorified dumbwaiter” for carting luggage or groceries between floors, Neifel said. Still, not all downsizing suburbanites are interested in them.

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