Amazing Homes & Great Village Vibe
“The” South Shore Address for Your Next Home
~By Maryellen Dever
The innovative planning that has made The Pinehills a multiple award-winning community is evident as soon as you turn at the Red Barn that marks the main entrance. Driving on the winding tree-lined road, you pass the New England-style buildings at the Village Green. You slow your car down, keeping pace with the slowing beat of your heart. Nature and outdoor activity calms yet energizes you. You’re home.
According to Pinehills LLC President John Judge, there was a clear vision for The Pinehills from the beginning. “All the main roads are a means to an end – they don’t have houses on them”. Instead, the homes at The Pinehills are built into the landscape – snug into hillsides, clustered on hilltops, nestled between pine trees, gathered around a neighborhood park. All homes in this 3200 acre community are built around the area’s natural undulating topography, with two-thirds of the land preserved as open space.
The planning process began in 1997, with ultimately 220 public meetings with the Town of Plymouth and its residents. A mixed-use master plan like this had never been tried in Plymouth before, and required changes in existing zoning regulations. For example, Judge said, The Pinehills team wanted to build roads “like they used to be”, to keep the rural feel, and not be bound by today’s road width and setback requirements. The narrower, curving roads also set the tone for the relaxed atmosphere of the area. In meetings with The Pinehills team, members of the Plymouth Planning Board were asked to name their favorite roads in Plymouth. The roads they named were some of the oldest roads in town, none of which would have been allowed under current zoning regulations. Plymouth Town Meeting approved the needed changes to zoning by-laws in July 2000. Since then, the Town and The Pinehills have developed a strong relationship that has resulted in an expedited zoning and permitting process.
One road that surely would not pass muster under current zoning regulations is Old Sandwich Road, one of the oldest unpaved roads in continuous use in the country. Part of it runs through The Pinehills as living testimony to the history of the area, and looks much the same as it did over 350 years ago. It evolved from a Wampanoag trail to become the first public road in the country, connecting Plymouth with Sandwich. Along the road is an historic tavern, which was built in 1792 and renovated with care to reflect its origins as the Wright Tavern. Reopened last year as the Rye Tavern, the restaurant has received top reviews, and is open to the public for dinner daily and weekend brunch. Outside seating is particularly popular in the warmer months.
The emphasis on outdoor spaces at The Pinehills grew from focus groups with prospective buyers that began during the planning phase. John Judge said participants were asked to use magazine pictures to create a collage of their ideal home, and then explain it to the group. The vast majority had a common, unexpected theme. Instead of collages filled with pictures of interiors, these showed views as if the buyer were looking outside. This “a-ha” moment made The Pinehills team realize that the outside view and home siting would be as important as the home. Judge added, “Even today, it’s rare that people talk about their individual home – they talk about their lifestyle, the activities. The lifestyle here is just as attractive as the homes”.
Visitors are encouraged to begin experiencing The Pinehills lifestyle at The Summerhouse, a welcome center like no other. It’s a rambling, shingle-style home with spectacular views. Open the screen door and you’re greeted with a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. From the deck, one of the two five-star public golf courses can be seen across the road. From another vantage point, there are treetops as far as the eye can see. Sit inside looking at the view, and the road below disappears, and nature is all around. Judge said that’s the land plan for all of the homes at The Pinehills, so that each homeowner feels as if they live among the trees with special views.
A short walk away is a social hub for residents, the Stonebridge Club. This impressive New England barn-style building is the center for recreational activity for the community. Here you’ll find tennis courts, swimming pools, a fitness room, exercise classes and a beautiful great lawn for outdoor activities. Of course, there’s always the large great room with its stone fireplace and comfortable chairs if you want to curl up with a good book. This is also the place to go for the many club meetings, children’s activities, movies, volunteer fairs, and organized charity events. Last Thanksgiving, the homeowners, connected and committed members of the larger Plymouth community, baked 400 pies for the homeless and for food pantries in town.
Although the recession has affected real estate sales everywhere, The Pinehills has navigated through, thrived, and is growing. Sales hit a plateau in 2006, but began to accelerate by 2010, and rose 20% last year. At the end of the 2012 first quarter, sales are 30% ahead of last year. Tony Green, Managing Partner of Pinehills LLC said the idea was to have the builders design more down to earth styles – “right sizing” homes to add open floor plans with casual layouts.
Green points out that with eight award-winning homebuilders, the choices for home size and style abound at The Pinehills. The selections include townhome condominiums, 55+ homes, single family homes, cottages, luxury apartments, and custom homes. Home prices range from the $300’s to $1 million+. Buyers may choose a pond view, tree-lined vistas, or gaze out at a championship golf course.
Three of the newest neighborhoods feature year-round cottage-style homes, with a variety of styles, price ranges, and neighborhoods. All harken back to a simpler time, when life was slower and more carefree, evoking memories of New England summer vacations.
Hickorywood Cottages are perched high along the hillside surrounded by woodlands and tall pines, giving the feeling of living in a tree house, or in the mountains of Vermont. Step into the Cobblestone Cottages and you’re immediately pulled back to that comfortable Nantucket cottage of long ago. The Summerhouse Cottages are reminiscent of the “gingerbread cottages” in Martha’s Vineyard, with big front porches looking out onto a park in the middle of the neighborhood.
Cobblestone and Summerhouse Cottages are a stone’s throw from the Village Green. Paula Davison, a Pinehills LLC specialist in cottage home sales, says already she sees a community building here in these newest neighborhoods. “I see people outside talking all the time. It has a close-knit feeling”. Donna Tefft, Director of Marketing and Sales at The Pinehills, added “this type of neighborhood encourages that feeling of community”. Davison and Tefft both said it’s not unusual to see neighbors walking over to The Market or Post Office together.
The choice to walk to the Village Green is an easy one, with seven miles of lighted, paved trails meandering through the woods and the roadside. Residents can be seen running, walking their dogs, neighbor greeting neighbor, often stopping to chat. The walking paths connect all the neighborhoods in The Pinehills to each other and to the Village Green.
The Village Green is the heart of this 1600- family “town within a town”. Surrounding the nearly two-acre Green, home to an art festival and music nights during the spring and summer; are shops, a café, and a full range of services open daily to the public. In fact, 70% of the customers who shop at The Market, the community’s wildly popular grocery store, come from outside The Pinehills.
The U.S. Post Office, also open to the public, has an old-time feel with its wainscoting, antique wooden desks and counters, upholstered chairs, and wrought iron bars at the service windows. It’s a regular stop for countless residents on their daily walk, with many lingering to chat with their neighbors. For their canine companions, the Post Office has treats for those who behave.
The smell of fresh brewed coffee wafts from Café Olio, a popular breakfast and lunch spot that is just through the adjoining doorway. Inside the warm café, itís common to see baby boomers as well as young parents with children lingering over a cup of soup, while next to them a business deal is discussed over lunch.
At The Market, there’s a prodigious selection of specialty cheeses, fresh fish delivered daily, and locally grown produce. Bakery items, sushi, and prepared meals are made fresh daily by in-house chefs. At Long Ridge Wine and Spirits next door, choose from the many varieties of wine and craft beer before you take a leisurely stroll home.
With easy access to Route 3, just eight miles from Cape Cod, and minutes from the commuter rail to Boston, The Pinehills offers the ideal location for an active lifestyle for buyers of all ages. Whether it’s golf, hiking, kayaking and canoeing, or just relaxing and enjoying life among the pines, there’s something for everybody in the family at The Pinehills.