Real Estate Spotlight: Seeing strong demand, Kohler Co. developing first new subdivision in a decade

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Kohler Co. began selling lots for The Clearings subdivision this summer, marking the first time in more than a decade the village of Kohler-based company has offered residential lots for sale.

Company officials say the lots are being offered now due to robust demand for new housing.

Seventy-five lots, ranging from 0.3-1.1 acres each, make up the first phase of the subdivision located on the west side of Woodland Road, between Forest and Woodlake roads in the village of Kohler.

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Renee Suscha, manager of Kohler Co.-owned Village Realty & Development, said the available lots represent the first of four phases, which altogether total 188 acres in the village. The lots are priced between $69,000 and $257,000.

Village Realty sells lots for Kohler Co., but still acts as a full-service real estate firm.

For several years, the village has seen higher demand from prospective homeowners than what is available for sale, and the trend is only moving upward, Suscha said.

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She said multiple listing service data shows there are typically fewer than 10 homes available in the village. And once those houses are brought to market, they’re usually sold quickly.

“When the demand is higher than the inventory, it’s a good indicator that it would be the time to build a new subdivision,” she said. “That’s exactly where we’ve been the last couple of years.”

In the first three weeks that The Clearings lots were available to purchase, nearly 15% of them were sold, said Suscha.

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What’s more, the company had a list of more than 100 people waiting for their next opportunity to buy new lots in the village. Suscha said all those on the list have been contacted, with some opting to wait for future phases and others expressing interest in phase one.

Those looking to buy now are largely still gathering information and planning what they want to do before putting in an offer on a lot, she said.

Much like the rest of the village, the new subdivision is meant to complement the existing buildings and neighborhoods in the area. Work on necessary infrastructure is already underway, Suscha said. The subdivision, set amongst woodlands, will feature tree-lined streets with sidewalks on both sides, “charming” light poles and a neighborhood park, she said.

“We want this to blend in with the rest of the community in the village of Kohler,” she said.

In fact, the village was one of the first planned communities in the U.S., according to Kohler Co. The village of just over 2,000 residents is home to the Kohler Co. headquarters and Destination Kohler, a five-diamond resort with the century-old American Club at its center.

Kohler Co. was able to plan out the village because it owned much of the land. And over the past century it has been molded after the idea of a garden community – a vision that includes ample green space, specific design guidelines to promote uniformity and an attention to detail with landscaping, Suscha said.

“So, if you drive through Kohler, you’ll just be impressed with the landscape that you find throughout the entire village,” she said.

Angela Miller, associate manager of archives and heritage communications with Kohler Co., said when John Michael Kohler first moved the company outside of Sheboygan, he wanted to ensure there was a thoughtful plan in place, with green space and room for the company to grow. When he died, his son Walter Kohler Sr. took over those plans, and visited Europe with architect Richard Philipp to learn about garden communities.

The company took those ideas and, working with the Olmsted Brothers firm, laid out a 50-year master plan in 1917 that called for a garden community at the factory gate. A second 50-year plan was developed in consultation with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in 1977, 10 years after the first plan had finished.

Out of that second master plan came the renovation of the American Club into the hotel it is today, Miller said. The historic building once provided housing to migrant workers, though by 1940 it no longer served its original purpose. Renovations to the building began in 1979, with the American Club opening in December 1981.

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