Article by Bill Lewis, Special to Nashville Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK — TENNESSEE Click HERE for full article
New homes often come with eco-friendly features that reduce monthly energy and water bills while creating a comfortable environment. In some neighborhoods, those features extend beyond the front door.
Kim Barrett noticed something different about the street lights in Durham Farms, the popular master-planned neighborhood in Hendersonville. Instead of shining light into the sky, they shine downward on the streets and sidewalks.
“Durham Farms is part of the Dark Skies initiative,” a nonprofit organization that works to prevent light pollution and protect the night sky, said Barrett.
The neighborhood also provides recycling, said Barrett, a sales manager for Celebration Homes, one of the builders active in Durham Farms.
Durham Farms also provides water stations for residents who are active outdoors, perhaps riding one of the bicycles that Freehold Communities occasionally gives away, she said.
Freehold developed Durham Farms to meet growing demand for neighborhood that encourage active lifestyles, said Suzanne Maddalon, Freehold’s vice president.
“We’re seeing trends that clearly indicate that more and more families are interested in the concept of healthy living as part of their community,” she said.
That trend began in the 1970s with passage of Title IX, a federal law that had lasting impact by increasing opportunities for women to participate in college sports.
The ripple effect is being felt today in the housing market, as fitness-focused women are influencing family decisions to choose communities that offer a culture of active, healthy living, said Maddalon.
Durham Farms is part of a national trend. Freehold has similar communities in Florida, North Carolina, Texas and California.
Like some other neighborhoods in Sumner County, Durham Farms has shrunk the front and back yards and replaced them with shared open spaces and walking trails. The neighborhood is next to a city park and earlier this year opened The Farmhouse, with a fitness center and other spaces.
“Neighborly connections and the front-porch friendly vibe of our community are the top unique qualities that make up the personality of Durham Farms,” said Lacey Edwards, the community manager who is also a lifestyle director.
Not far away, residents of the Millstone neighborhood can stroll to the community garden, located next to the town center, where they can select herbs to use for dinner. Or they can sit on a bench in the orchard, where Golden Delicious apple trees grow. During the summer, they can drop by the farm stand for fresh produce.
“People want a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves,” said Todd Reynolds, vice president for Goodall Homes, Millstone’s developer.
When Pulte Homes launched Norman Creek late last year in Hendersonville, it offered what the company calls “life-tested” home designs priced from the mid-$300,000s. They include smart home features that enable owners to control lighting, thermostats, security systems, appliances and other features through their smart phones or Alexa-enabled devices.
“This is a growing area and Norman Creek offers several exciting new home designs that will appeal to today’s active families,” said Will Coles, president of Pulte Homes’ Nashville Division.
Norman Creek has a community pool and a gathering area. The neighborhood's amenities extend beyond its entrance and include nearby opportunities for recreation on Old Hickory Lake and shopping at the Shops at Indian Lake, he said
When they move into a home today, homeowners expect a comfortable, efficient house, and more, said Reynolds.
“We talk about our neighborhoods being sanctuaries,” said Goodall’s Reynolds.