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The Seductive Power of a Suburban Utopia

Serenbe, an intentional community outside Atlanta, promises urban pleasures without the messiness of city life.
relates to The Seductive Power of a Suburban Utopia
Courtesy of Serenbe

CHATTAHOOCHEE HILLS, GEORGIA—On a recent drizzly morning, I tromped through pine needles and mud past a couple of glowering llamas and through a wildflower meadow until reaching Selborne, one of three neighborhoods in Serenbe, a 1,000-acre intentional community southwest of Atlanta. Around 600 people live in Serenbe’s 350 homes, and plans are afoot for many more.

The community’s founder and developer, Steve Nygren, has built Serenbe over the past 15 years. At 71, he easily outpaced me on our two-hour walk around the town he made. Along the way, he proudly pointed to the variety of styles among Selborne’s tidy, well-appointed houses: A modern, boxy structure abuts a classic bungalow, and a colonial is a few doors down. Townhouses mix with single-family homes, and a few buildings feature apartments on the second floor and shops below. Each of Serenbe’s three neighborhoods boasts a central, downtown-like area with a smattering of retailers—a bakery, a salon, a dog grooming outfit.