Hilliard offers everything from golf course living to condo communities‚?"and, coming soon, eco-sensitive homes along Big Darby Creek. During the booming times of the 1990s and early 2000s, Hilliard experienced one of Central Ohio's fastest growth rates, with around 420 single-family home permits issued per year. But three years ago, as it did in other Columbus suburbs, the tough housing market brought new home starts to a standstill. Things look brighter today as growth returns to Hilliard at a slow-and-steady pace, driven by the same factors that gave the city its popularity during the upturn: convenient location, excellent schools and a diversity of housing choices. "It's a very family-oriented community," says David Meeks, economic development director for the city of Hilliard. Hilliard offers the well-regarded Hilliard City School District along with a host of other pluses, including parks and an abundance of bike paths. Meeks stresses Hilliard's particularly convenient location. "We have easy access to I-270 and downtown-we're probably one of the closest of the outerbelt suburbs for getting downtown-and it's a straight shot to Ohio State," he says. One of the suburb's greatest selling points is its housing diversity. "We've got a lot of variety," says Meeks. "With affordability and schools, you get a pretty good value in Hilliard." You can find starter homes in the Beacon area and some of Hilliard's older neighborhoods for $100,000 and under. And you can easily locate condos throughout the city priced at less than $200,000. The Woods at Hayden Run, for example, located off Avery Road and built by Epcon Communities, offers two-bedroom condos starting in the $160,000s. At the other end of the scale, you can spot million dollar homes in a few choice locations. Hilliard has gorgeous, pricey estate homes perched on the Scioto River with parklike yards and boat docks, as well as stunning golf course homes overlooking Heritage Golf Club. According to Columbus Board of Realtors information, Hilliard's average home sale price of $183,780 in January 2010 exceeds the average home price of $145,993 for the same period in the Columbus Metropolitan Statistical Area. "There's so much to do here, it's a great area for everyone," says Sue Van Woerkom, a Realtor with ReMax Achievers and the Anders Team. "I love Hilliard-it's just a great place to live." She says one of Hilliard's fastest-selling neighborhoods, with an average time of only 37 days on the market, is Ridgewood, located off Dublin Road. Known for mature trees and large lots, this well-established neighborhood has homes selling in the low $200,000s. Choices include ranches, split levels and two-story abodes. Hilliard Green is a popular development within the Hilliard City School District, with many homes priced in the $160,000s. Also off Roberts Road, Brookfield Village offers larger homes with an average price in the $230,000s. Looking for a newer home that's near the YMCA and community pool? The Estates at Hoffman Farms in the Cosgray Road area features homes averaging 2,900 square feet, with price tags in the $290s. Nearby walking paths lead to picturesque Homestead Park. Those in the market for golf community living can find it at Heritage Lakes, next to the Heritage Lakes Golf Club. Heritage Lakes offers high-end homes filled with luxurious features. Most homes have around 4,500 square feet of space and at least four bedrooms. Average prices are in the $430,000s. Always wanted to live in the country-but need to be near your office? Van Woerkom says there are still rural properties available in the Hilliard City School District. "A lot of people have five acres or more and have a horse or two." Those opting for a maintenance-free lifestyle have many choices thanks to Hilliard's thriving condo communities. One of the newest: The Schottenstein Real Estate Group is halfway through building its 261-unit Tremont Club condos, located off Leap and Davidson roads. The development already has won the Building Industry Association of Central Ohio's development of the year award. The Village at Tremont Club offers ranches and townhomes; the adjacent Estates at Tremont Club caters to those 55 and older and offers only ranches. Residents in both Tremont Club areas can choose between two- and three-bedroom homes. They also have an array of other options, including four-season rooms, screened porches and granite countertops. Priced from the $170,000s to $300,000, the units range from 1,200 to more than 2,000 square feet. "The thing that really makes this community unique is the lifestyle that we've created," says Brett Kaufman, president of the Schottenstein Real Estate Group. "It's really the kind of lifestyle you would see at a much higher price range." Kaufman says the community is a niche for people who have always wanted the kinds of amenities offered at Tremont Club, but haven't been able to find them in their price range. The community's centerpiece is its 10,000-square-foot clubhouse designed by Brian Kent Jones. It includes a fitness center, party area and full-time concierge. Developments such as the Estates at Tremont Club, geared for those 55 and older, are a good fit for Hilliard's growth plans. Meeks says city officials would like to bring more senior housing to Hilliard. "It's part of the city's strategy to focus on aging baby boomers and to attract higher-wage medical professions to support our income base," he says. One upcoming project geared for seniors, the Square at Latham Park, is an age-restricted apartment building to be located west of Cosgray Road. Developed by MJC Holdings LLC, the Square at Latham Park currently is going through zoning and is slated to break ground in 2011. During the past 15 years, Rockford Homes has built houses in several Hilliard neighborhoods. Today, the company is building single-family homes and condos on Hilliard's western border-the site of most of the city's new growth. "Hilliard has been a very, very stable housing market," says Bob Yoakam Jr., president of Rockford Homes. "Housing prices have been very stable and they're even appreciating. Hilliard's still growing and has been one of the better areas during the turmoil of the last three years." Rockford Homes currently is building single-family homes and condos at Hampton Reserve, off Scioto Darby Road. Bordered by trees, ponds and open space, the development is particularly scenic. Hampton Reserve offers just 51 single-family homes with prices starting in the $300,000s. Hampton Reserve also has a 36-unit condo community priced from the $210,000s. Each home has three bedrooms, including a first-floor master and a second-floor loft, three baths, a four-season room and a two-car attached garage. Rockford's Brickstone Green Condominiums, near Cosgray Road, also are surrounded by green space. The units are two-story, two-family buildings with basements. "It feels like an individual residence, and the buildings don't look like condominiums, they look like big houses," says Yoakam. "They have that single-family feel and you're still able to get rid of lawn mowing and snow shoveling." Two- and three-bedroom units are available and each has plenty of storage, along with a first-floor master suite and first-floor laundry. As environmental planning issues concerning the Big Darby Creek watershed are worked out, Meeks and local developers anticipate that the Big Darby Accord will become a major factor in Hilliard's future growth. The city is one of 10 municipalities cooperating on environmentally sensitive planning and development that will protect Big Darby Creek. Over the next several years, Meeks anticipates up to 2,000 homes will be built in a 3,000-acre area from Roberts Road on the south to Hayden Run Road on the north, with most located within the Big Darby Accord area. Future growth will center around small individual communities developed by companies that include Homewood, Planned Development Company and Virginia Homes. "The Big Darby Accord area will have a very green type of development," says Meeks. "Homes will be clustered in areas but surrounded by lots of green space, trees, ponds and lakes." All aspects of the area's development will be geared toward allowing water to permeate back into the ground in this delicately balanced watershed area. Meeks says the communities may use geothermal and other environmentally friendly energy alternatives. Homewood owns 250 acres in the Big Darby Accord that were annexed into the city of Hilliard two years ago and have not yet been zoned. James Lipnos, president of Homewood, says the site has the potential to be developed for single-family homes and commercial buildings. The company also is planning to develop an 80-acre Hilliard site located off Leppert Road that is not in the Darby Accord and that will be used for single-family homes. Planned Development Company owns 420 acres on Alton Darby Creek Road, just west of Heritage Lakes and Heritage Golf Club-a site the company developed in the mid 1990s. Dan O'Brien, president of Planned Development, says approximately half of the land, which recently was annexed to Hilliard, will be set aside to preserve the wooded areas, creeks, lakes and prairie lands. "The Big Darby Accord will facilitate an environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing community as a result of the open spaces preserved," says O'Brien. Planned Development's remaining acreage will be used for homes. O'Brien envisions houses geared toward two or three different markets, with options including large-lot houses and cluster homes. Virginia Homes is in the preliminary stages of deciding how to develop the land it owns in the Big Darby Accord. The company has previous experience building in Hilliard and has built many homes in Brookfield Village. "Hilliard has really great potential," says David Ruma of the Virginia Homes Development Company. "I really think they've got some of the area's best opportunities as far as future commercial and residential development." Carol Rich is a freelance writer and editor of Builder Update, the official publication of the Building Industry Association of Central Ohio. doc4c23a574df891971341897-4e5ff21c17c583_52738081-doc4c23a574df891971341897-3.jpg Hilliard offers everything from golf course living to condo communities‚?"and, coming soon, eco-sensitive homes along Big Darby Creek.