From swimming pools and golf courses, to lush landscaping and strict building controls, master planned communities can offer an attractive alternative to typical new-home communities, said Hugh Smeed, vice president of sales and marketing for Aurora Venture, developer of four master planned communities in the DuPage County portion of west suburban Aurora.
What is a master planned community? Smeed defines one as a several-hundred-acre community with a single land developer who creates an overall land plan and environment. This setting typically includes heavily landscaped greenbelt areas, distinctive neighborhoods with landscaped entrance walls and non-obtrusive directional signs to allow for several types of housing products - from traditional single-family homes to landscape maintenance-free single-family homes to town houses - and, of course, recreational amenities.
Most importantly, Smeed said, a master planned community provides neighborhoods, not just houses.
Neighborhoods in such communities customarily are developed one or two at a time, with home sites then sold both to large-volume and custom builders, Smeed said. And housing types are separated into their own neighborhoods, Smeed said. "For example, at Oakhurst, we have neighborhoods of entry-level single-family homes, town houses for first-time buyers, and upscale and semi-custom single-family homes," he said.
"And each neighborhood has its own identity; homes are similar in terms of size, amenities and price, yet individual in style," he said. "Residents within each section of a community identify with, and feel a real part of, that individual neighborhood."
Aurora Venture, which is owned by the Crown family of Chicago, is developing Oakhurst, Oakhurst North, Stonebridge Country Club and The Villages at Meadow Lakes in Aurora. The company now is branching out of the Aurora market for the first time with plans recently presented for Thornwood, a master planned community in South Elgin, just north of St. Charles.
Each of the four Aurora communities features several different neighborhoods, with homes within each complementing each other in terms of style and price. Each community also boasts recreational amenities, from jogging and biking paths, to parks and lakes, to Stonebridge's championship golf course to Oakhurst North's new sports core, with clubhouse, swimming pool, fitness center, sand volleyball courts and other facilities.
Master planned communities offer social and recreational opportunities - plus good home values, Smeed said. "They represent a very solid housing choice."
He listed some of the benefits master planned communities offer:
With recreational facilities such as golf courses, country clubs, swimming pools and fitness centers on site, fun is readily available for adults and kids alike. …