Kokes Family Home Builders
- Written by: Eric Gundberg
- Produced by: Kokes Family Home Builders
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
One of the most important demographics in American History – the Baby Boomer Generation – is approaching retirement age. While many people are continuing to work well into their ’60s and beyond, companies that specialize in homes and services that cater to active adults are going to see a huge uptick in their businesses over the next 10 to 20 years. Kokes Family Home Builders (Kokes), based in Whiting, N.J., is one of the companies that is set to thrive in the future. The family-owned company, headed by Jan Kokes, specializes in the development and construction of upscale active adult communities in central New Jersey.
The Kokes family embarked on a fascinating journey to arrive where it is today. Kokes founder, Miroslav Kokes, and his wife, Irene, fled their native Czechoslovakia following the Russian occupation in 1946. The couple and their two young sons, Jan and Jerry, eventually made their way to the United States where Miroslav started a chicken farm after saving every penny he made for several years,.
Asthma and a bout of pneumonia forced Miroslav to sell the farm, and with a friend, he purchased 150 acres of land in Manchester, N.J. The partners built a 1,000-unit adult retirement community, which was the forerunner of Kokes’ active adult communities. Over the next 47 years, the company built an impressive 20,000 all-age and 55-year plus homes, apartments and mobile homes. The company also built two golf courses, a water and sewer company, two medical centers, two shopping centers and over 60 miles of road.
Kokes briefly held the distinction of being the developer and builder of what was the state’s largest retirement community when it completed Crestwood Village along with the Crestwood Manor Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). Crestwood Village, which broke ground in 1964, consisted of 11,000 homes. Only 280 of these were CCRC homes, all which were designed to allow residents the ease to enjoy their golden years – with an appropriate amount of medical supervision – and still retain the ability to live independently.
“We built an on-site nursing home and medical facility and the units range in size from studios to two-bedroom homes, with built-in kitchens for the residents who choose to not in the dining facility,” says Jan, president and CEO of Kokes.
A Family Member on Each Job Site
Jan’s brother, Jerry, sits as vice president of Kokes and the third generation of family members is also moving up in the company. Kokes employs roughly 137 people at its headquarters and the sales offices at two of the three 55-plus communities, located 12 miles apart in Ocean County. “We try and have a family member at each of the job sites so that they can talk to prospects and residents about our company and what we hope to achieve for the community,” reveals Jan.
Jan proudly notes that during the height of the housing boom, the company was successfully constructing 350 to 600 homes a year. “We like to build around 200 homes a year, because we can effectively manage them,” says Jan. “We’ve been in business here for more than 45 years and the communities here have been very good to our family.”
The company has worked on a number of high-profile projects since its inception. Currently, the Kokes family is completing construction and sales at The Enclave at the Fairways in Lakewood, N.J. The gated, 349-home 55-plus community boasts amenities including a 15,000-square foot clubhouse with a grand ballroom, fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, game and craft rooms, bocce and lighted tennis courts.
Kokes is also selling the final dozen courtyard homes at Country Walk of Lake Ridge in Whiting, N.J. The 304-home community is a combination of 188 single, ranch-style homes and 116 courtyard homes. The newest 55-plus community is The Reserve of Lake Ridge in Manchester Township, N.J. The 230 single-family homes and home sites are situated on 118 acres adjacent to the New Jersey Pinelands. Kokes also has two additional communities, which are on the drawing board with plans to break ground at one site in late 2012. The single-family homes will be adjacent to Eagle Ridge Golf Club and The Fairways active adult community, which were also built by Kokes. The company is also currently working on The Reserve of Lake Ridge in Manchester Township, N.J., as well as the close-out at Country Walk of Lake Ridge in Whiting, N.J.
“We specialize in all aspects of the development and building process,” notes Jan. “We find a piece of property, get an option on it and obtain the necessary approvals to build a community. We hire the architects and the engineers to help realize our vision. We subcontract out the work, but all of our job sites are supervised by Kokes project managers to ensure each site has the level of quality that our projects are known for,” continues Jan.
As more of America’s Baby Boomer Generation approaches the age when the decision is made to downsize their home and simplify their lifestyle, it’s refreshing to know that Kokes is dedicated to establishing communities that provide 55-plus adults with a safe living environment, a low-maintenance, new home and an active-adult lifestyle that residents are able to enjoy whether they are still working or retired. The Kokes family has evolved their business through the years to provide today’s active adults with, as Jan Kokes always says, “the home they deserve.” With this perception, Kokes Family Home Builders will continue to enhance lives for years to come.
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