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Sustainable Community Planned for Farmland in Western 'Burbs

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Typically, news that a new residential development is planned for farmland is met with jeers from environmentalists. After all, suburban sprawl has consumed massive swaths of agricultural land in Illinois in recent years. But Serosun Farms, a planned sustainable community in Kane County, isn't your typical exurban development. Developer John DeWald & Associates is planning a community of 114 custom homes centered around a working farm and an equestrian estate on a 410-acre property in Hampshire, which is about an hour northwest of Chicago. Last week, Curbed caught up with John DeWald to learn more about the plan. DeWald says the site was previously made up of three separate farms — a horse farm and two corn and soybean farms — much of which is transitioning to hay, fruit and vegetable production. Around the farm, there will be 114 one-acre lots where the custom design-build homes will be built. "The idea is that essentially, you're sharing this farm with 100 other people, but this is your farm," says DeWald, adding: "business people, professionals, can't normally afford to buy a farm."

Food is a big part of the plan, DeWald says, and he's hoping to appeal to a mix of foodies, professional families that want to raise their kids in the country, as well as the equestrian crowd and retirees. "One of the things we thought was important is the farm can't just be decorative, it has to work and make money," DeWald explains. The plan currently calls for a farmers market on site that'll later morph into a restaurant and a gourmet market. "We're trying to develop capacity and capability to support restaurants in town, and to bring some interesting foods into the community," DeWald says.

Architects Jeffrey Funke and Juan Moreno have produced conceptual renderings of nine homes in various architectural styles. DeWald says the homes will be very energy efficient, and that 70-80 percent of the community's energy will come from renewable, onsite sources. Andersen Windows, a local company that produces high-efficiency windows, will also be working on the development.

DeWald says that Kane County recently created a special 'Limited Development' for agricultural preservation zoning to preserve rural spaces at the edge of suburbia. The company is currently working on design and permitting for model home, which will be built in a farmhouse style, and they're hoping to start building it in September. Pricing for the homes currently runs from the low $600s to more than $2 million.
· Official Website: Serosun Farms [Serosun Farms]