This article –and others highlighting innovative new urbanist projects in the Atlanta area– can be found in the book on the region produced especially for CNU 18: Building Metropolitan Atlanta: Past, Present & Future.

Tour Serenbe with the CNU! For more information, see Tour 14, Serenbe: Organic Planning, Architecture and Farming.

Project Name:

Fulton County, Georgia

Project Date:

Site Information:
1,000-acre greenfield development of forests and former farmlands.

Project Information:
The vision for Serenbe was born at the height of Atlanta’s sprawl in the 1990s, in an effort to protect largely rural southwest Fulton County. Landowners in the area began to discuss a way to avoid losing the character of the land, while accommodating inevitable development. This movement eventually led to the formation of the Chattahoochee Hill Country Alliance, which developed a vision plan and outlined various land use tools, such as conservation easements, transfer of development rights, and mixed-use villages, to protect land from traditional suburban development. The result was a master plan and zoning overlay, and eventually the formation of a new city, Chattahoochee Hills, encompassing 40,000 acres. The development plan will cluster growth into hamlets and villages, while preserving a minimum of 70 percent of the acreage unbuilt. Serenbe, with 1,000 acres, is the first of the hamlets to be built, and demonstrates how this balanced growth can be accomplished – by building high density villages and hamlets surrounding community centers.

The Serenbe master plan calls for three hamlets, with buildings clustered along a serpentine-like omega form fitted to the undulations of the land. The result is that the omega form creates a closer relationship between the community and the surrounding natural beauty of the land. These methods of arranging the community require minimal land grading and land disturbances, and also allow the community to reserve large areas of undeveloped green space.

The three distinct hamlets include Selborne, Grange and Mado. Selborne is the center for arts (performing, visual, and culinary), and is currently home to about 100 residents, bakeshop, restaurant, art gallery, and other retail. Grange, currently under construction, is the farm hamlet, given its proximity to the Serenbe Organic Farms, a 30-acre certified organic farm with a thriving CSA program, and Serenbe Stables. Grange will also be home to a barbecue restaurant, tack store, feed and seed shop, and arts and crafts studios. The third hamlet, which is in the planning stages, is Mado – named for the Creek-Indian word meaning “things in balance.” Mado will include a destination spa, an upscale boutique hotel, vegetarian restaurant, traditional and holistic medical services, and assisted living residences.

Serenbe has been recognized as a national model for the future of balanced development in the U.S. – focusing on land preservation, agriculture, energy efficiency, green building, walkability, high density building, arts and culture, and community living for multiple generations.

ULI Atlanta Chapter – 2008 Sustainability Award
Atlanta Regional Commission – 2008 Development of Excellence

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