Susanne Tauke likes transforming
places that have become old and tired, remaking them into something fresh and
The president of New American Homes of Hawthorn Woods got her first
taste of redevelopment work during her 15 years working under a Home Builders
Association program to bring new single-family homes and townhouses to Chicago's
South and West Sides.
Today she is redeveloping a tiny corner of the far
Northern suburbs in unincorporated Antioch.
Tauke has purchased 42 acres
next to Bluff Lake, one of the Chain O' Lakes, and is building a community called
"We took land that once had on it a couple of restaurants,
a marina and a trailer park and are transforming it into a nautical-themed community
with 67 home sites," Tauke said.
When completed, Newport Cove will feature
31 cluster-style single-family homes called The Cottages, as well as 15 sites
for custom estate homes and 21 sites for custom waterfront homes.
point of Newport Cove is a new marina, which will have space for 192 boats.
also will be an 8-acre waterfront park, which will include a pavilion and a walking
path along Bluff Lake.
Her dream house: "I love the Midwest, so I would
want a home somewhere in the Midwest on the water, but also within walking distance
of restaurants, a little grocery store and my church. It would be a minimalistic
and clean contemporary home with great gardens outside and a minimum of furniture
and knickknacks inside."
She is especially excited about the "Life House"
project by the State University of New York's architecture idea lab.
university is working with builders all over the country to design homes that
will work for anyone as they age.
"We are adapting one of our cottage models
to accommodate people as they age," she said. "It will have room for a potential
elevator, hidden ramp access to the front door, wider hallways, three levels of
lighting for different tasks, memory niches for keys and other items near every
door and much more."
Favorite new home amenity: "I love the new technology
that is available. I love the fact that I can read my e-mail on my plasma TV and
control the music that is playing throughout my home.
" Philosophy: "Homes
should be built one at a time, and it is important to match the home with the
person. That is why we try to offer very flexible floor plans. Everyone lives
in a home differently, so I don't like to label the rooms on my floor plans because
one person's dining room might be another person's study.
"I also believe that a neighborhood should be designed to accommodate lots
of different types of people from a variety of age groups and income levels. Too
often I find that most homes are designed for people between the ages of 30 and
50 and everyone else is expected to fit themselves into those houses.
Details, details: Tauke's firm builds approximately 10 homes per year ranging
from $300,000 to $3 million. Her firm also does some commercial work.
wears many hats, but she is particularly involved with marketing, design and searching
for new deals.
In addition to building Newport Cove on Bluff Lake, Tauke
has been active building and renovating homes in North Barrington's Wynstone community.
She has built 16 homes there and renovated five others.
"People find it
hard to believe you can renovate a 15-year-old house, but I have found that building
trends, particularly on the upper end of the price spectrum, change almost as
fast as women's fashions, thanks to HGTV and stores like Pottery Barn and Restoration
Best part about being a builder: "We are more design-oriented
than most builders, especially on the lower-priced homes, because I like bringing
new ideas into homes. We really try to work with our customers and give them the
homes they want.
" Biggest changes she has seen in the business: "In the
past 25 years, I have seen the average home really increase in size. But I expect
that trend to start reversing itself. I think that we may have peaked out on house
size for awhile," Tauke said.
She also noted the growing number of women
in the business.
"It used to be that I would be the only woman on the job
sites and even at closings. I now have a woman superintendent and the other day
I saw a woman doing rough carpentry. And when you go to a closing, most of the
people there are women.
"I guess it is just a natural evolution because
women overall do seem to care more about houses than men do.
" Future plans:
Newport Cove will be the company's major project for the next three or four years,
plus some commercial work and off-site large custom homes, Tauke said.
2007 Daily Herald.