Tryon Farm, located in Michigan City, IN

Michigan City,

THE STORY: Started in the late 1990s by architect Ed Noonan, his wife, Eve, and their collaborative, Chicago Associates Planners and Architects, this 170-acre conservation community (once an operating farm) is comprised mostly of open land—wetlands, prairies, dunes, and woods. Housing stock ranges from clusters of 400-square-foot prefab units to family homes as big as 2,500 square feet grouped in seven “settlements” named for the ecology surrounding them (Pond, Woods, etc.). Each grouping has a unifying aesthetic, with some totally modern, others paying homage to the traditional farmhouse. While a few homes are re-sales, most are custom-built new construction. GREEN CRED: Three-quarters of this land will always be preserved, with no development; residents are taught to reuse storm water; all homes are built to maximize sunlight; there’s a communal vegetable garden. PRICES: From $168,000 for an 800-square-foot two-floor unit with a private courtyard in a four-unit complex to $488,000 for a 2,500-square-foot house, built in collaboration with an architect. PERKS: Goats and chickens still live in original farm buildings; regular bonfires and community suppers; Tryon Farm Guesthouse (a B&B for guest overflow) is on the premises; Indiana dunes are nearby. INFO:


Photography: John Hines; (inset) Brian Wilmette

Avant Farms, located in Galena Township, IN

Galena Township,

THE STORY: This 103-acre spread was home to a herd of Black Angus cattle until 2007, when Avant Gardens LLC bought it. Just a 15-minute drive from Harbor Country (about an hour and 15 minutes from downtown Chicago), Avant Gardens is divided into 20 1.4-acre lots, all slated for single-family homes. The landscape includes forested ravines, a pond, and stretches of pure prairie. Avant Gardens sells lots and has house plans and architect recommendations available. It is committed to modern design; all blueprints must be approved by its architectural review board. GREEN CRED: Sixty acres of the development have been declared an official Wildlife and Forest Preserve by the Department of Natural Resources; Avant Gardens encourages building with sustainable materials and maintaining an ongoing eco-friendly lifestyle; homeowners are required to plant their open space with native vegetation. PRICES: Lots start at $124,500. The 1,749-square-foot model home, by David Woodhouse Architects, includes radiant heat, finished concrete floors, and glass countertops, and is listed at $600,000. PERKS: Wild turkeys, deer, and fox roam the preserve, while nearby orchards, vineyards, and farms add bucolic charm. INFO:


Photography: Connor Steinkamp

East Edge, located in Miller Beach, IN

Miller Beach,

THE STORY: Chicago real estate pros Jay and Ann Gallagher bought a home in Miller Beach a decade ago and their thoughts soon turned to development. In 2005, they purchased a city block, christened the property East Edge, and teamed up with the local architectural firm Bauer Latoza Studio to create a group of homes with a modern aesthetic (flat roofs, floor-to-ceiling windows, polished concrete floors). Twenty lots will accommodate condos, townhouses, and single-family homes; at press time, only four town­houses and two single-family residences had been built, so there’s still time to work with Bauer Latoza on a custom design. GREEN CRED: Sustainable building materials such as recycled rubber and bamboo flooring and cement-board siding; rainwater runoff is siphoned into flowering rain gardens; homes are built to maximize passive solar gain. PRICES: From $197,000 to $212,000 for a 1,100-square-foot condo to $499,000 for a 2,543-square-foot single-family home. Townhouses begin at $297,000 for a 1,600-square-foot unit. PERKS: The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s rolling sand dunes, hiking trails, and indigenous flora are right across the street; there’s a shared courtyard with a communal fire pit; six miles of uninterrupted beach are only a block away. INFO: