Today we’d like to introduce you to Steve Nygren.
Steve, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My career began in the hospitality industry and in 1972, I opened the Pleasant Peasant, which was the beginning of a restaurant corporation that grew to 34 restaurants in eight states. In 1991, my wife, Marie and I took our three daughters on a weekend outing to the countryside of Chattahoochee Hills and happened upon a century old farmhouse. In 1994, we relocated full time as a way to step off the treadmill of life.
Six years later, we began to fear that urban sprawl would invade our country paradise. It was that fear which led me to create the Chattahoochee Hills Country Alliance to bring together landowners, developers and conservationists to find a mutually-agreed upon solution for balanced growth. Through two years of work and public meetings, a land use plan was adopted to preserve 70% of the 40,000 acres on the edge of Atlanta while providing 20% more housing than the traditional suburban sprawl yield.
In 2004, we began development of Serenbe to demonstrate these concepts which interlace agricultural activity with a range of housing options mixed with shops, galleries, three restaurants and a 27 room inn.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t think anything is necessarily a smooth road. I think that if it had been an easy journey, then we wouldn’t be where we are today. I never thought I would become a developer but I realized that, in order to make real change, sometimes you have to start in your own backyard.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Serenbe – what should we know?
Serenbe is a wellness community located just 35 miles south of Atlanta. I am the Founder, CEO and Visionary for this community, which has been my family’s project for over a decade. Serenbe is unique in multiple ways; we built upon sacred geometry principles and centered each hamlet neighborhood around a different aspect of a well-lived life: arts for inspiration, health for wellness, agriculture for nourishment and education for life-long learning. The reaction we get from residents and visitors is what makes it all worth it. To actually see a visible change in the way we live is incredible. I’m most proud that we have built a community that feels like a small town that compelled my three daughters to move back and bring their significant others and now husbands plus our first grandchild.
What sets us apart from others are the core principals on which we built Serenbe that include the connection to nature and each other. I had a woman from Boston on a tour looking at real estate, she was staying at The Inn and I saw her again two days later. She pulled me aside and asked “Is this place real?” I asked her what she saw that seemed so out of the ordinary that she would ask the question. She said she saw children running around without parents nearby, neighbors talking on the sidewalks, people carrying a covered dish to a neighbor’s home and plus everyone smiled or waved and said hello to her during her visit. I pointed out wasn’t it sad that today that these things are considered unusual. The small interactions with neighbors, children playing freely with their friends, a smile and a wave from a stranger – how is it we have come so far from the small towns and communities we grew up in? We are yearning for those connections and that community is one of the main aspects of our “town” that sets us apart from other places to live.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I always ask, “why?”. Many of the aspects of Serenbe would have never been built if I hadn’t asked “why?” – from granite curbs to our unique lamp posts, to our 100% natural wastewater treatment system to the earthen bridges and how we build with the land instead of against it.
- Houses start at $300,ooo
- Address: Serenbe Development
9110 Selborne Lane
Chattahoochee Hills, GA 30268
- Website: serenbe.com
- Phone: 770.463.2609
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/serenbe/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/serenbe
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/serenbe