(Bill Lewis , The Tennessean- Click HERE for Full Article)
When Judy and Jack Dickson bought their home in the new Durham Farms subdivision in Hendersonville, they got more than a house. They now have a lifestyle director who plans events and manages a social schedule for all the residents.
“All the activities and events. The thought of it drew us in,” said Judy Dickson.
Durham Farms is one of a growing number of neighborhoods in the region where community events and the residents’ social calendar are professionally managed.
“I say I’m a cruise director without the water,” said Lacey Edwards, the lifestyle director for Durham Farms.
Residents have only begun moving into Durham Farms but Edwards has already coordinated events including an Oktoberfest party, cooking classes, holiday parties, health screenings and other activities while homeowners wait for their houses to be finished. She’s planning movies on the lawn, concerts and festivals.
Judy Dickson described herself and her husband as empty nesters who are enjoying “a fresh start” at Durham Farms. They moved in late April from an established neighborhood in nearby Gallatin.
“If you feel connected to your neighborhood, it adds value,” she said.
Durham Farms, located on Drakes Creek Road between Vietnam Veterans Boulevard and Long Hollow Pike, will have more than 1,000 homes on 472 acres.
Lifestyle Director Angel Keefer has already organized social activities, parties and outings. Next will come “yappy hour” gatherings at the dog park and book, card and wine clubs and other activities.
“It’s like living in a country club,” said Keefer.
Southern Springs will have at least 600 homes on more than 300 acres on Kedron Road. Interstate 65 and Saturn Parkway are nearby. Del Webb also developed Lake Providence in Mt. Juliet and operates active-adult communities across the country.
“The reason (residents) move to these communities is to be involved in an active lifestyle,” said Keefer.
Jana Pastors, lifestyle director for Goodall Homes at the StoneBridge subdivision in Lebanon and the new Millstone subdivision in Hendersonville, said Nashville’s strong economy is attracting new residents who are not familiar with the area. Having someone in her position helps them connect with their surroundings, from getting to know their neighbors to meeting public officials.
“They wonder, ‘Where do I start?’ ” said Pastors. “People love having a community within a community.”
Examples of events include the twice-a-year community-wide yard sale at StoneBridge. At Millstone, which has a community herb garden, the University of Tennessee agricultural extension office of Sumner County has taught classes on vegetable gardening.
In other neighborhoods, residents might have to drive across town to attend such a class, said Pastors.
“That’s why we decided to offer it to you in your backyard, as a lifestyle,” she said.
When the clubhouse opens in the Waters Edge neighborhood in Franklin, Pastors will become that community’s lifestyle director, as well.
In Franklin’s Westhaven neighborhood, Amy Law has been the lifestyle director for 13 years. Her first event was hosting a coffee on the porch of the sales building.
“That began the culture and the tradition,” she said.
Today the community has dozens of events and clubs. On June 17, the annual Porchfest will turn front porches into stages for musicians and streets will become art galleries. Other annual events include the Whiskey Warmer bourbon tasting event and the Franklin Hot Air Balloon Festival. Westhaven University holds classes on subjects ranging from Civil War history to self-defense.
“It probably seals the deal for a lot of people, the built-in community. It definitely adds value,” said Law.