Thorntree Commons at Suttons Bay
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News (2006)

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December 11, 2006

We have received our final site plan approval to the 22.5-acre development. You can see the latest site plan here (PDF, 1.8mb) or by clicking the image above.

Though the property right of way is drivable in its current state, the construction of the private road to code will begin this spring. This will also including the newly available public sewer infrastructure, a great practical advantage in terms of choosing a placement on the site, both esthetically and for potential energy efficiency and passive solar benefit.

We have not yet purchased the adjacent land for the larger phase II project. The master deed allows for an expansion of the project, and this will be assessed in a year or two. Whatever expansion we finally undertake will include the same environmental standards as the 22.5-acre project.

December 6, 2006

A new look for the Thorntree site just ahead of the new year! Our first redesign is officially up and running, and we hope you like what you see. The site's design and structure have both been overhauled. We'd love to hear your feedback at

August 29, 2006

We've had a first response to our open letter to architects! Jana Vander Goot of Ann Arbor, MI has submitted two conceptual designs for smart-built homes, which you can view along with a project description by clicking on the image above.

If you are an architect and would like to submit your own designs to be featured on the Thorntree website, please send an email to

July 11, 2006

Last month Jean and Dave visited Tryon Farm, an ecovillage in Michigan City, Indiana. Jean has written an article for the Thorntree site about what they found there. We hope you enjoy it.

The Master Deed is still undergoing revisions, but you can continue to see the latest guidelines as we fine-tune them on the Guidelines Page. As soon as the Master Deed is finalized, we'll put it up in its entirety on the site.

We've also begun the pathway for the entrance road at the north end of the development through the pines. Tree removal has been very selective, allowing only for the immediate road needs and leaving as many trees as possible. two local timber people from Wood Dimensions, a small Suttons Bay company, are engaged in the process, harvesting the wood and chipping it for reuse in the Thorntree project. We should have a pathway completed very soon.

Finally, we were delighted to receive the fox photo below, which was taken at Thorntree by one of our future residents, Douglas Northrop from Ann Arbor and a member of the University of Michigan faculty.

June 28, 2006

We're nearing completion of the Master Deed, and we thought it would be a good idea to put a summary of Thorntree's Green Building Design Guidelines up on the site. We should have the Master Deed itself available on the site soon.

May 26, 2006

Thorntree Commons would like to extend an open invitation to the Architectural Design community to submit concept sketches for the project. We'd like to add a section to our website where potential clients can see some of the design possibilities of Green Building and where they can make connections with you, the designer, to assist in planning their home at Thorntree.

Please read our open letter, and feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.

May 13, 2006

A lot has been happening with Thorntree Commons in the past few weeks. The first piece of big news is that we're now accepting early reservations!

If you're interested in making Thorntree Commons your home or if you'd like to make arrangements to view the available lots, you can find more information on the Contact & Sales page. We hope to hear from you soon.

The next big news item is that we're working on acquiring some land adjacent to Thorntree which will double the size of the development to 42.6 Acres (Please Note: as of December, 2006 this is no longer the case- we may still expand Thorntree in the future, but for the time being the project will remain at 22.5 acres. The current site plan can be viewed here).

We've also been working with The Leelanau Conservancy to rescue indiginous flora from the build site prior to beginning construction of the road that will wind through Thorntree. You can read more about the Conservancy and their mission at their website.

Last week David chartered a plane and got some aerial photos of Thorntree and Suttons Bay. Our web designer, Jason, has labeled Thorntree and some of what Suttons Bay has to offer on a few of the photos. The first image in particular does a good job of illustrating just how close we are to the village and the waterfront, and the second two have the new site plan superimposed over the property.

(Please Note: as mentioned above, as of December, 2006 the boundaries and site plan in the images below have been revised and are no longer current).

Finally, we've added five new photos to the Gallery page.

March 30, 2006

We've included a new article on the site entitled "Why Build Green?" with some information and links on financial incentives for buying and building an energy-efficient home, including Energy-Efficient Mortgages.

We're also in the process of preparing a cabin on the Bahle property to facilitate the University of Michigan graduate students who will be studying the Thorntree project (see the March 13 update below for more on this). This cabin sits on one of the Bahle farms just north of the village and is a homestead structure that dates back approximately 150 years. It was restored on that site and is made available to good causes for hospitality by Owen and Leila Bahle and their children. We'd like to thank Lois Bahle (pictured) and the extended Bahle family for their support in this process.

Finally, we're working with Daniel Schillinger, the County Forester for Leelanau and Grand Traverse Counties. Mr. Schillinger is providing us with advice on woodlot management and tree harvesting on the site, and Thorntree's master deed will stipulate that the County Forester is to be engaged in all future discussions on woodlot management.

March 23, 2006

We have a revised and updated plan for the building site:

Note: Link to larger version removed, as this site plan is no longer current. The latest site plan can be found here.

March 13, 2006

We're excited to announce that Thorntree Commons and the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning have penned an official agreement to collaborate on the Thorntree project.

Dr. Jong-Jin Kim and his graduate students will be conducting an analysis of Thorntree's plans and the social and cultural context of the village. We couldn't be more pleased about this collaboration.

Click here to read our press release concerning this agreement, and watch this space for more updates.

March 5, 2006

We've added an Attractions section to our top menu; there you can find out just what's so great about Suttons Bay and the Leelanau area. Some new links to environmental sites have also been added to the Vision page.

Finally, in case you haven't noticed already, the site has a slightly new look and some new photos have been placed in the Photo Gallery and on the Who We Are page. The careful observer will no doubt notice that the texts of the Who We Are and Ten Principles articles have changed a little, too, hopefully for the better.

February 3, 2006

I have had the privilege of meeting and corresponding with Dr. Jong-Jin Kim from the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. He has shown a great interest in Thorntree Commons and its commitment to green development.

With Dr. Kim's kind permission I have extracted from his work some thoughts on sustainable building and architecture and the larger implication of human activity on the future of the planet and the life it supports. His passion for and technical understanding of the issues that face us is to be admired and emulated. We at Thorntree Commons look forward to a continuing relationship with Dr. Kim and the University of Michigan in the future.

Click here to read the excerpt from Dr. Kim's work.

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