By Michael Davis (Michael@connectsouthultonga.org)
Serenbe started in 2004, is located 25 minutes west of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport within the 45,000 rural acres of Chattahoochee Hills in south Fulton County. Serenbe is a $2-Billion+ 1,200-acre first of its kind example of a higher-quality interconnected mixed-use community that is surrounded and connected to nature. It’s a model community featuring single-family homes intermingled with retail and restaurants along with apartments, live-work units and larger agrarian lots. Being surrounded by nature is not about creating pocket parks, it’s about conserving over 70% of the total developable land and building densely on the remaining 30%. This provides a 26% increase in homes and a 60% savings in infrastructure costs. Steve Nygren, the visionary behind the award-winning Serenbe development, talks about Serenbe and the development’s future.
Q – What elements of the Serenbe master plan have been implemented?
Three of the five neighborhoods have been built with over 30% of the master plan implemented as it pertains to residential and commercial buildings. Over thirty retailers, four restaurants and two office buildings with our largest at 30,000 sq. ft. opening in Jan 2019. Over 325 homes are occupied with another 70-100 planned for completion each year that equates close to 700 residents with another 150-200 moving into Serenbe every year.
Q – Serenbe will double in size by 2020, what will be developed in the future?
Mado Phase II will be built in 2019 with an additional 150 units, followed by our 4th neighborhood that will have another 250 homes starting in 2020. We also have plans for a boutique hotel and a destination spa hotel with plans ready to go and currently seeking investors. Post 2020 will bring more apartment buildings, offices and the goal of an assisted living and memory care center. We also have an unnamed Italian restaurant in the works for late 2019/early 2020.
Q – What are the available investment opportunities?
We have plans and drawings for a boutique hotel and a destination spa hotel that we are currently seeking investors. We also plan to bring online more apartment buildings, offices and the goal of an assisted living and memory care center. Our live-work inventory and short-term rental homes have shown great returns for investors. Our master plans also have up to seventeen restaurants, so we are always seeking out up and coming chefs.
Q -What is Chattahoochee Hills Country and the Chattahoochee Hill County Community Plan?
Serenbe is a 1,200-acre neighborhood within the city of Chattahoochee Hills (45,000 acres) that sits within the Hill Country’s 65,000 acres spanning a five-county intergovernmental land planning agreement. That plan allows for 70% of the total acreage to be conserved with only the remaining 30% developed in clusters of high density like Serenbe.
Q – Regulation or the lack of laws for agricultural development in urban areas can be a development obstacle, what tools or regulations should municipalities and designers adopt to encourage agricultural development in urban areas?
One of the aspects is bringing edible landscaping into neighborhoods and that can be done anywhere. At Serenbe we have blueberry bushes at all of our crosswalks in our Grange neighborhood and in our newest neighborhood, Mado, we created a food forest with a focus on medicinal plants to be harvested and used in education classes and workshops. The City of Atlanta has the first Urban Agriculture Director in the country and the work he is doing is incredible in just two years, including creating an urban food forest.
Q – What lessons or best practices can be taken from the Serenbe Master Plan and the Serenbe approach to balanced growth for others interested in creating similar developments?
We call our planning model a Biophilic Model, where we build with nature and not against it. We are always thinking about how people can live a more balanced and well life, and that starts with how we make places. It’s not just sustainability, land conservation or adding a farm to your property. It’s an integrated model that considers how to build a better way and we see Serenbe as a place where other developers, investors and landowners can come learn the biophilic principals. We host an annual conference, consulting and offer our planning and design services through Nygren Placemaking.
To learn more visit, www.serenbe. com or www. serenberealestate. com.