Everything You Want to Know about Evans Farm
A New Kind of Neighborhood is Blossoming in the Greater Columbus Area
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For many born-and-bred Ohioans, life in the Buckeye State comes in one of two locales: small towns with lots of cornfields, or big cities with lots of people. Either way, the favored mode of transportation in Ohio has got to be cars. Ohioans drive to work, drive home, drive to restaurants, drive to college, drive to see friends, etc. Public transport isn’t a viable option in all cities, and gas prices only threaten to grow as nonrenewable fuel sources get eaten up. In response to all of this is a new idea: what if we could make cars obsolete?
What if a new kind of place made using cars so often unnecessary? What if everything and everyone you wanted to see was within walking distance? Evans Farm is attempting to combine all the best parts of Ohio small towns and big cities to create an old-fashioned kind of community that doesn’t require so much driving. Simultaneously, the masterminds behind this mystifying utopian community are bringing a new phrase into the Ohioan vernacular: “new urbanism.”
What is Evans Farm?
This housing development—later to feature a commercial district—comes from Dan Griffin and Tony Eyerman of the Evans Farm Land Development Company. Located in Delaware County, Ohio less than 20 miles north of downtown Columbus, Evans Farm is a housing and living community based around the concept of “new urbanism.” In short, new urbanism is a city-planning ideal that aims to provide citizens with a small-town downtown experience. For people living in a new urbanist community, amenities, businesses, and neighbors will be within walking distance, connected by streets made for pedestrians and bikes rather than cars and buses. In a state like Ohio that is well-known for its acres and acres of farmland that can separate individuals from their closest neighbors by miles, Evans Farm is venturing to bring a more quaint, bohemian lifestyle to prospective homeowners in the greater Columbus area. The Evans farm property spans 1,200 acres with over a hundred ‘Phase 1’ residential lots up for grabs.
The revolutionary venture is still young, having only broken ground in 2016 and welcomed the move-in of its first permanent residents in November of 2018. As of August 15th of this year, the community has sold off several housing lots and has over 50 homes either in construction or already constructed. You may have heard about the July event hosted by the Building Industry Association of Central Ohio (BIA), known as the BIA Parade of Homes. The experience opened up fourteen new, fully-furnished homes in the Evans Farm development for lovers of architecture and prospective homeowners to tour.
Evans Farm boasts its financial accessibility, pricing ‘Phase 1 Lots’ at between $61,000 to $179,000, ready to be built on by new homeowners. According to the frequently-asked-questions section of the EF website, the general aesthetics of envisioned homes by Evans Farms will feature “usable front porches” in styles such as Craftsman, Cape Cod, and Victorian. Ready-made homes currently on the market within the new development carry price tags all the way from five hundred grand to well over a million dollars.
In cutting out the need for cars in local life, the new urbanist movement and Evans Farm boast their ability to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable. When your local coffee shop or workplace are always within walking and biking distance, you’d have no desire to spend time in the car on beautiful, sunny days. This may be why environmental advocates and city planners all across the globe have turned their focus toward new urbanism as the next big thing for long-term sustainability in local life. Evans Farm is pouring money into its 1,200 acre plot of land to bring new urbanism into the backyard of Columbusites and Ohioans as a whole.
In the works
A big part of the appeal of a new urbanist community like Evans Farm is the easy access to companies and community spaces from your home. While residential development has been ramping up, things are in the works to provide homeowners with that utopian vision of walking-distance society that includes more than just your next-door neighbor. The elements of commerce and community space are what will catapult Evans Farm from a suburban housing development to a new urbanist ideal.
Jennings Sports Complex
Evans Farm’s first major conquest is a huge, 60-acre community park furnished with everything a family could want. Construction on the entire park, named the Jennings Sports Complex, is planned to begin by 2020, with baseball diamonds and soccer fields slated to be open to league use by the summer. As of September, the park is still in the engineering and design phase, according to the Evans Farm official newsletter.The full roster of proposed amenities in the park includes grass and artificial turf, baseball/softball diamonds, four soccer fields, play structures, natural areas, walking and biking trails, and picnic shelters.
News about the Evans Farm commercial district, dubbed the ‘Marketplace’ on preliminary maps, is disappointingly minimal as of late. The August/September newsletter released by the Evans Farm Sustainability Director Kristin Piper only achieves to let us know that the commercial district “coming soon.” This long-awaited community section promises the residents of Evans Farm walking-distance access to small businesses and office spaces. These businesses, when existent, will be the things that separate Evans Farm from any other suburban housing development. The ideals of new urbanism demand civilian access to coffee shops, office spaces, restaurants, and libraries to bring a city-life experience down to the scale of one small community.
Despite any official news concerning businesses moving into any Evans Farm commercial lots, homeowners have eagerly scooped up residential lots and broken ground on beautiful, expensive homes. These pioneers of the new urbanist movement in Ohio have demonstrated their confidence in the Evans Farm vision and trust that the leaders at the top have the pull and know-how to make it all come together in the next few decades.
What’s going on at Evans Farm right now?
What’s going on at Evans Farm right now? As it turns out, a whole lot! Construction on brand-new homes is seemingly constant as giddy, adventurous homeowners pour into Phase 1 residential lots. In the last few months alone, the development has hosted a BIA Parade of Homes, an Ohio Food Truck Rally, community get-togethers and block parties, and tons and tons of construction. The sight of barren acreage and bare house frames may not make for the perfect community aesthetic quite yet, but the current residents of Evans Farm have shown that they’re more than happy to start their lives in this community with the promise of much more on the horizon.
Otherwise, the main access point for curious Ohioans to the mystique and wonder of Evans Farm is through a tour of the residential community. The website recommends you fill out a contact form for Evans Farm to schedule a time to look at what’s built and talk about what life in the community could offer you. Who knows, maybe yours will be the next family to pack their things and break ground to join the new urbanism movement.
How can I learn more?
Much of the information in this article was sourced from Evans Farm’s official website, as well as their Facebook page. To talk one-on-one with the people behind Evans Farm, you can call them at (740) 548–0113 or fill out a contact form on their website to send questions or schedule a visit. As mentioned before, the main access point to Evans Farm is a tour of the properties for the purpose of scoping out your next home and joining the movement as a new urbanist yourself.
The kind of city life we’re used to may be on its way out. With the enthusiasm displayed for the new urbanist community Evans Farm just north of Columbus, we may be witnessing the beginnings of the future of city planning and daily life. As sustainability and environmentalism become more and more attractive in the public eye, communities like these that demand less travel by car offer a folksy, neighborly solution.