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Creative Communities

Henke Development Group Builds Distinctive Living Environments

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Justin Sicking

Traditional commercial or residential developers see properties with terrain changes, sprawling woods and rolling hills, and oftenHenke Development Group shake their heads, opting instead to build on flat fields. The team at Henke Development Group, however, seek out such properties because they are both beautiful and unique. That’s precisely what they’ve done at The Club at Chatham Hills, a private, residential golf course community in Westfield that offers unique topography of creeks, rolling hills, woods, lakes, and two Pete Dye-designed golf courses (the nine-hole Executive Course and 18-hole Championship Course).

“We approach every project from a personal standpoint, asking who is going to be living at a certain development – empty nesters? People with young families?” says Betsy Garfield, co-founder of Henke Development Group, who runs the company with her father Steve and brother Brad.

The answers to those questions drive the amenities, which Henke heavily invests in. The Club at Chatham Hills includes amenities that are unheard of in traditional club settings. For instance, the 65,000-square-foot clubhouse includes a four-lane bowling alley, two-story fitness center with a spin studio, tennis facilities, indoor pool, and outdoor pool with cabanas as well as a swim-up bar (the only one in the state). They took it a step further by considering seasonality and included a sledding hill, bonfire pits, and pop-up igloos for winter dining.

In addition, the clubhouse has two restaurants. Chats on the Hill boasts yummy breakfast offerings such as made-to-order omelets, avocado toast, chorizo breakfast burritos, fresh fruit and granola. Lunch and dinner items include burgers, nachos, wings, wraps and fresh salads. Hamilton’s Bar & Grille, an upscale sports bar, offers Chilean sea bass, rib eye, pastas and vegan options. They also have a great wine list and a number of local draft beers. They work with local purveyors to serve the freshest food possible.

“We are frequently asked if everybody who lives here golfs, and the answer is no,” Garfield says. “Only about 40% of our residents on our courses are golf members.” These lots are highly desirable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the breathtaking view. In addition, many residents love that they can buy a lot for which they don’t have to maintain much of the yard, because it may overlook 10 acres of perfectly manicured grass, wildlife wetlands or woods.

Having amenities on-site or close by is key in today’s fast-paced world. The developers recognize that people appreciate being able to reclaim precious time in their day by not having to travel far to enjoy such amenities.

“It goes back to us thinking about how our residents spend their days,” Garfield says. “We have busy families with kids involved in travel sports, and they love being two minutes from Grand Park and also being able to meet neighbors at the club for lunch. We also have grandparents who bring their grandchildren here to go swimming.”

It’s not unusual for people to choose to relocate to be closer to grandkids. Garfield has seen a spike in this population, particularly following COVID-19. Residents tell her, “You’re too young to have experienced this yet, but when your kids get older you’ll see that it’s harder to make friends when you move somewhere. You don’t have the schools, the soccer teams, the football tailgates and all of that to connect you with other people.”

Henke Development GroupMoving to a community like this, however, gives them a built-in social scene since this community tends to be socially driven. For instance, people assemble to play tennis, pickleball, swim or attend an event at the club.

In September, Chatham Hills will host Home-A-Rama for the third time. This year’s event features seven elite homebuilders – Wedgewood Building Company, Old Town Design Group, Sigma Builders, Christopher Scott Homes, Carrington Homes, BBG Construction, and Scott Campbell Custom Homes. These $2 million homes are between 5,500 and 8,200 square feet. Though most are already sold, a couple of lots are still available.

Andre and Erica Porter had been considering adding a pool and other features that their kids would enjoy to their existing 2018 Home-A-Rama home. When they reviewed options, however, they decided against adding the features to the existing home, and instead opted to work with Carrington Homes on its 2022 Home-A-Rama home, where the features would be built into their plans.

“In addition to the new features, we were drawn in by the unique floor plan and the fantastic tree-lined view of the golf course from the backyard,” Erica Porter says. “Of course we were pleased to find the new home opportunity in Chatham Hills as we have built many friendships here, and our kids love the neighborhood.”

Currently, The Club at Chatham Hills has more than 450 residents. There are some beautiful larger lots near Home-A-Rama that are now available, many with trees or cul-de-sac settings. Chatham Village is getting ready to open across from the clubhouse. This newest section, where construction on home sites will start this summer, will offer front-porch-style living with tree-lined streetscapes, low-maintenance lots, and white picket fences running along the front yards.

“It has been carefully designed to incorporate details act give a cute and welcoming feel,” Garfield says. “It will feature classic American architecture styles, with alley-load garages on the north side and custom homes on the south portion.” These homes will start around $550,000. Homes throughout Chatham Village and Chatham Hills range up to $3M+.

Henke Development Group has plans to develop a retail commercial village on a 12-acre lake, which will offer opportunities for water recreation such as fishing and kayaking. That’s not been a possibility on the lakes near the golf courses, due to the possibility of errant golf balls.

The Home-A-Rama preview party will take place on September 21. The Home-A-Rama team is also planning a couple of funHenke Development Group theme nights such as Ladies Night. Show dates are as follows: September 22 to 25, September 29 to October 2, and October 6 to 9.

For more about Henke Development Group, visit henkedevelopment.com or CHATHAMHILLS.COM for home and lot information. For more information on Home-A-Rama, go to bagi.com.

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