“I lived in that neighborhood most of my life,” says Barbara. “Those are my old stomping grounds.”
Luckily, they found just the right place at Loretto Club, a project of home builder Pulte Homes. “We had our eye on this property,” says Randall.
Their new home will have a first floor master bedroom, so they don’t have to climb stairs. The community will handle exterior maintenance such as mowing the grass and shoveling the snow.
“I think you’ll see more of these developments popping up,” says Randall. “It’s a nice concept.”
Homebuilders understand that baby boomers are starting to retire and many are looking to downsize to new, hassle-free homes. They’re not necessarily looking to move full-time to the Sun Belt either. They want to stay near their family, social networks and health care providers.
So-called age-targeted projects, including those restricted to residents age 55 or older, are being developed in the suburbs. New condominiums and townhomes are available in the city as well.
In fact, new home starts in age-targeted projects were up 27.7 percent last year, according to Metrostudy, a Rosemont-based firm that tracks home building in the greater Chicago area. “We anticipate age-targeted development will continue to grow as a percentage of the new home market through 2020,” says Mark Gianopulos, director, Midwest Region, Metrostudy.
Westleigh Farms will be on 47 acres of an estate that once belonged to the family that introduced F. Scott Fitzgerald to the upper crust—and will neighbor older buildings by David Adler and Howard Van Doren Shaw.
A North Shore property that is said to have been an inspiration for the iconic American novel The Great Gatsby is well on its way to being redeveloped with a series of brand new single family homes. The new development, titled Westleigh Farms, is being built on a former Lake Forest estate that spans 47 acres and includes existing structures from notable Chicago-area architects David Adler and Howard Van Doren Shaw.
During the early 20th Century, the property belonged to wealthy stockbroker Charles Garfield King and his family. A courtship between King’s daughter, Ginevra, and a young F. Scott Fitzgerald introduced the budding author not only to the family, but the world of America’s exclusive upper class. The rest is history.
Developer North Shore Builders formally acquired the property last year via a $9 million purchase (which was one of the priciest sales in the Chicago metro area in 2017). The subdivision was approved by the city of Lake Forest much earlier however, allowing the developer to split the property up into 34 separate lots. As a part of the agreement, North Shore Builders was asked to sell the Van Doren Shaw–designed Colonial mansion on South Ridge Road.
According to sales and marketing team, led by David Wolf of On Collaborative, the property is currently under contract to a preservation-minded buyer who plans to renovate the house as a primary residence.
Sales are formally underway on the new houses for the site. According to Wolf, North Shore Builders is constructing 26 new homes and will sell the eight remaining lots to buyers who prefer to build on their own. There are three different home models being offered by North Shore Builders ranging in size and cost with all variations featuring a different take on the farmhouse aesthetic. The base price for one of the new properties is $1.099 million.
“What the developers really wanted to do was restore the properties that needed to be restored and build houses that compliment the landscape,” Wolf says regarding the subdivision’s theme. “There’s a lot of demand for something like this in the North Shore.”
The homes built in the new planned community will be maintenance-free, Wolf adds. A monthly association fee of $495 will cover the subdivision’s landscaping and allow residents access to common amenities such as the community clubhouse—a David Adler–designed residence originally designed to house butlers and groundskeepers. The estate’s old stables designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw will be renovated and repurposed as a maintenance shed and storage.
The first wave of new homes are expected to be delivered later this year.
Luxury homes offer a return to the glory days on the scenic estate that inspired Fitzgerald’s famous novel.
Sales have begun at Westleigh Farm, a community of 34 luxury single-family homes on the grounds of the historic King Country Estate in Lake Forest, Ill. Built in 1905 as a summer home for the King family, the estate was frequented by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his teenage years while he was romantically involved with Ginevra King, his inspiration for The Great Gatsby character Daisy Buchanan.
Offered by Winnetka, Ill.-based North Shore Builders, Westleigh Farm encompasses 47 acres of gardens, woodlands, ponds, and walking paths. The Woods neighborhood, located on the southern edge of the plan, includes the original King mansion and seven custom home sites in a densely wooded area.
The Meadow neighborhood occupies the northern portion of the plan, and includes 26 ranch homes surrounding a central lawn. Priced from $1.1 million, the plans range from 3,523 to 4,500 square feet with three to five bedrooms, 2 ½ to 3 ½ baths, and two- to three-car garages. Luxury features include 9-foot ceilings and hardwood flooring on the main level, a 42-inch fireplace, granite countertops, custom Amish-made cabinetry, Viking appliances, and Kohler bathroom fixtures and tubs. Buyers have the options of fully finished lower levels, additional bedrooms, side-load garages, covered decks, butler’s pantries, full sunrooms, and more.
Accessibility features include wide hallways and doors, zero-step showers with a seat in the master bath, and sensor lighting in closets, laundry rooms, and pantries. Buyers with mobility issues can add an elevator and lowered foundation for a no-step entrance to their home.
The ranch homes sit on .25-acre sites that include landscaping and snow removal, perfect for lock-and-leave owners who may travel often or have winter homes, according to North Shore Builders founder and CEO Bill Ryan. The estate’s original staff quarters lodge located in The Meadow has been repurposed as a community gathering space with outdoor dining and a lawn overlooking a large pond. North Shore Builders also converted the original stable into a community entryway and maintenance facility.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for buyers to live in one of the most coveted and preserved areas in the North Shore – to enjoy the same scenic and tranquil qualities that drew the original owners here more than a century ago and captivated the imagination and heart of one of our country’s greatest writers,” Ryan says.
By: Kathleen Brown
The developer of a Lake Forest property with a direct connection to the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel "The Great Gatsby" is launching sales of a 34-home subdivision targeted to North Shore downsizers and snowbirds.
The houses at Westleigh Farm will all be single-story, and every one will have views into the subdivision's shared open space, said Bill Ryan, CEO of Schaumburg-based William Ryan Homes. About half the 48-acre site will be green space, he said.
"A lot of people were drawn up to Lake Forest by its open spaces, its big lots," Ryan said. "They're ready to downsize but they don't want to lose that." The open spaces planned for Westleigh Farm, at Ridge and Kennedy roads, include existing wooded areas, a to-be-built orchard around a large swath of lawn and dense stands of trees planted atop tall sound-baffling berms along busy Kennedy Road.
Ryan subsidiary North Shore Builders will open a sales center in December at its Winnetka office and a model home on the Lake Forest site in the spring, Ryan said. Coldwell Banker's marketing arm, On Colllaborative, is handling the sales effort, which launches this week.
While acknowledging that the real estate market in Lake Forest has been slow for a few years, Ryan said "we believe we have a niche that is different from what's on the market." Single-story houses with exterior and landscape maintenance taken care of, and extensive shared open spaces, he said, "should appeal to the people who will spend most of their time in another state but want to keep a house in Lake Forest."
The Westleigh Farm property has 34 lots. The houses to be built on 26 of them will be priced from just under $1.1 million to about $1.2 million, Ryan said, with 2,400 to 4,500 square feet of space. Eight lots are being offered to buyers who want to build custom homes; the land-only prices are $575,000 to $750,000, Ryan said.
On the 34th lot (number 29 in the image below) is the original mansion, designed by Howard van Doren Shaw and built in 1905 for banker Charles Garfield King. King's socialite daughter Ginevra dated, corresponded with and then spurned Fitzgerald while they were both young, in 1915 through 1917, inspiring the story at the center of "The Great Gatsby," published in 1925.
The mansion, which has stood empty for at least a decade and has a kitchen and some finishes that are at least half a century old, is for sale with an acre and a half of land at $775,000. The rehab cost would likely run at least $1.3 million, Ryan said.
In 2007 the mansion was for sale on five acres at $6.5 million. The sellers, the heirs of a couple who bought the 47-acre site in 1954, eventually sold all the land and the mansion to Ryan's firm in May for $9 million.
Under terms of Ryan's development agreement with Lake Forest, if he can't get the mansion sold, down the line the village may consider approving demolition. Ryan said he hopes to sell the house soon at the present price.
Two other existing buildings on the estate, a stable and a small lodge, will be dismantled, Ryan said. Parts of them will be used in re-creations in new locations on the property, to be used as a community building and a maintenance-services building. In the community building, Ryan said, "we'll have photos and (memorabilia) as a tribute to the history of the property as a gentry farm and the connection to 'The Great Gatsby.'''
Construction of the first new houses will begin in December, Ryan said, and be ready for occupancy by late summer.
By Dennis Rodkin, Crain's