The Bluffs on Manistee Lake

The Bluffs on Manistee Lake
Play on the new pickleball courts at The Bluffs on Manistee Lake

Natural Beauty of Northern Michigan on Full Display at The Bluffs on Manistee Lake, a New 55+ Community

There are many lifestyle options at the The Bluffs on Manistee Lake, the new 55+ resort community in Northern Michigan. However, the stunning views and an open invitation to enjoy nature are available for each and every resident.

“The proximity to Lake Michigan and two beautiful beaches, and right next door to a gigantic national forest has us in a very nice place,” said James Dougherty, the property owner and president of Community Management Group. “And historically, one of the draws to the area has been the fresh water fishing. It’s one of the most plentiful places in the country to fish.

“It has all the things that you look for when you go up north,” he added. “And there are plenty of golf courses around, as well as a large casino for gaming and entertainment.”

An affordable living community was underway at the same location, but development was halted nearly 20 years ago when the economy was on the slide. Dougherty picked up the property in 2015 and reimagined what it might be.

The Bluffs on Manistee Lake
The Bluffs on Manistee Lake Clubhouse

The Bluffs on Manistee Lake

“This changes everything. They didn’t even have a sales office on property,” Dougherty said of previous development. “Well, if you’re in the 55-plus business, you better have a clubhouse, a swimming pool, pickleball, a dog run and walking trails.

“It’s an expensive proposition, but we’re in it for the long haul,” he said.

Where is Manistee, Mich.?

If you ask a Michigander where Manistee is, you’ll get their left hand pointing to the tip of the pinky finger on the open right hand. On a real map, Manistee sits at the island-dotted open mouth of the Manistee River entry to Lake Michigan. In a car or RV, it’s a bit more than four hours north of either Detroit or Chicago, if you’re driving in good weather.

Guided lake and river fishing, quick trips to the Upper Peninsula and wintertime skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing are all favored activities in the north woods. And The Bluffs on Manistee Lake are but a quick jaunt to downtown shopping and nightlife as well as the stunning sandy beaches and Manistee lighthouse.

The Bluffs on Manistee Lake
It’s a great view from the Bluffs.

Amenities at The Bluffs on Manistee Lake

  • Four-mile long Manistee Lake
  • 5,000 square foot clubhouse
  • 24×48’ pool and 20-foot diameter hot tub
  • Assembly room
  • Exterior LED lighting in common spaces
  • Service area
  • Office
  • Laundry
  • Restrooms and showers
  • Optional lawn and snow removal services

The Need for New Manufactured Home Communities

Approximately 315 new manufactured home communities have been built nationwide during the last 16 years. Compare that with the 2,645 new communities during the prior 15 years, including 395 communities built during 1986-87 alone. It’s easy to understand why affordable housing advocates are concerned.

The Bluffs on Manistee Lake
The spacious kitchen in a new home at The Bluffs.

Live and Play at The Bluffs

“We built the clubhouse so we could add on for a separate fitness room, as well as a crafts and games area,” Dougherty said.

And is there a game bigger right now at retirement communities than pickleball? Pickleball is a downsized tennis game that involves using paddles to hit a perforated ball.

“This is a great amenity,” Dougherty said of the game. “People talk about it all the time. People in the wider community come out to play at our courts because they’re so much better than what you’ll find in most places. I just let them come in and use them. I think it’s a great interaction.”

The Bluffs on Manistee Lake
There are a variety of new homes to choose from at The Bluffs.

The Bluffs Provides Options for Comfortable Living

The Bluffs on Manistee Lake take homes from Skyline that come in varying styles and floorplans. Dougherty said the most popular model has been the “Lake House”, which is a 3 bedroom, 2 ½ bath that has 2-by-6 exterior construction, added insulation, a 30-pound roof load on a 5/12 pitch.

The Bluffs on Manistee Lake
The interior of a new home at The Bluffs.

Dougherty said the Lake House sells for $116,000, with another $9,000 in possible extras as well as a full-package home with a garage for $155,000.

“The comment I get most often is that this is a lot of home for the money,” Dougherty said. “Our customer kind of wants what they want. Most often they’re downsizing, perhaps this is their last home. And it’s essential that they get all that they want, including the option to RV everywhere.”

Monthly land-lease payments for the home range from $375 to $450 depending on the size of the home an its position in the community. That site rent is a lifelong guarantee that will only rise with the rate of inflation, which helps create peace of mind for retirees on a fixed income.

Among all those amenities, each home does come with an option for RV storage. The RV storage for residents is a buffer zone between the community’s adjacent RV Park and Tiny Home Village, available for seasonal use.

The Bluffs on Manistee Lake
Wide RV space is available at The Bluffs.

RV at The Bluffs on Manistee Lake

The seasonal rate for an RV site is $3,500 at The Bluffs on Manistee Lake.

“My sites are all huge for an RV park, because they had to be set with 55-foot minimum frontage,” Dougherty said. “But people love it. It provides a lot of space for recreation and the outdoor part of RV living.”

Like other community owners who find success in an RV/MH property mix, Dougherty said the seasonal customers create a ready-made pipeline for community residence.

“A down payment toward seasonal RV space can all rolled into site rent for a home, so it can work out very well,” he said.

About half the residents at The Bluffs on Manistee Lake will reside in the community year round, while the other half split time between warm weather locales including Florida, Arizona and Texas.

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