The Grand Opening of The Willows and its furnished model will take place on the weekend, September 20th and September 21st.  Wallingford builders, Verna Properties and Sunwood Development have joined forces as VW Homes to build a long awaited 65 home new old-fashioned neighborhood on North Farms Road, between the center of town and Route 68.

The Willows will be the first single family community of its size developed in town since 1995, and sales director, Karen Kline, has been working her way down a list of 162 potential buyers who have expressed interest. Ten homebuyers have already purchased at The Willows, and at the end of this month, Bob and Brenda Pilletere will be the first to move in to their new home.

"We have been waiting for The Willows for a long time," said Brenda Pilletere.

A few years ago, Brenda and Bob were downsizing, and bought a detached condominium at Fieldstone Farm in Wallingford. However, they sold that home last year.

"At Fieldstone Farm, we didn’t like the fact that everything we did had to go thru a board for approval," said Brenda. The Pilliterre’s wanted a single family community where they own the land, as well as the house. “Wallingford finally has a community of smaller homes on smaller lots,” Brenda exclaimed.

Last December, the Pilletere’s and thirty-eight other potential buyers participated in a focus group VW Homes hosted at Tradition Golf Club. Frank and Amy Balisciano also participated. "I was impressed that Liz and Bob were interested in knowing what their buyers want in a new home," said Amy. "They were trying to design houses that people will love living in."

Frank and Amy Balisciano recently sold their condo in Wallingford and were one of the first to buy a home at The Willows.

"I love Wallingford," said Amy, whose father, Dale Wilson, is Superintendant of Schools. "The quality of the schools is very good, and taxes and electricity are lower than other towns.  But until The Willows, it had been difficult finding something in our price range. Sales prices at The Willows are $440,000 to $570,000, which is low for new construction in Wallingford. This is a great opportunity for us."

When focus group moderator, Joanne Carroll, posed the key question, “What are the absolute ‘musts’ for your new home, here’s what made the top 10 list of Must Have Features:

  1. Vinyl siding for low maintenance.
  2. Flat nine foot ceilings with crown moldings are preferred over cathedral ceilings because they give height with no wasted space on the second floor.
  3. Large Family Room / Great Room, open to a kitchen with granite countertops
  4. Kitchen Island with Bar Stool Seating and Breakfast Room - both important.
  5. Large Master Bedroom with walk-in closet and tiled master bath
  6. Roomy 12’0 X 16’-0 Deck.
  7. Mud Room with separate laundry
  8. First Floor Den
  9. Kitchen Pantry and Hall Coat Closet
  10. Gas Heat and Extra Insulation for energy efficiency.

Homebuyer opinions and insights guided Philadelphia architect, Jim Wentling, as he designed floor plans, elevations and interior features at The Willows.  A choice of either a Traditional or Craftsman elevation with two car attached garage is offered with each of the six floorplans. The appealing three and four bedroom homes are designed with large Great Rooms that are open to designer island kitchens, and they include popular features such as granite countertops, hardwood floors, mud rooms and separate laundry areas.

"Many people build homes with elegant formal spaces for resale, but they live in the more informal spaces - the kitchen and family room," explained Wentling. "The formal rooms in the average house sit vacant, waiting for the ‘formal guests’ who never arrive. At The Willows, we reduced or eliminated the rooms that are rarely used, and focused on creating special everyday spaces."

Builder, Bob Wiedenmann explained, "The Willows reminds me of the neighborhoods many of us grew up in. Smaller 1/4 to 1/3 acre lots and sidewalks on both sides of the street will encourage walking and getting to know your neighbors. Every home at The Willows will be built 30% more energy-efficient than typical new construction, and VW Homes will stand behind their new homes by extending a two-year warranty to its customers, which is twice the norm."

The first ten buyers represent young couples starting out, like the Balisciano’s, older empty nesters, like the Pilleterre’s and families like the Doukas's.

Ed and Karen Doukas have two children age 12 and 15, and they had outgrown their starter home in Wallingford.

"We had been looking around, and couldn’t find anything that offered value and had the features we wanted, like an open floor plan and 2 1/2 bathrooms," explained Ed. "When we saw The Willows, it fit the bill across the board - even the location on the east side of town will allow our children to stay in the same schools."

Ed went on to describe the Hickory model they chose. "It has pretty much everything we were looking for. The first floor is an open floor plan, and it has 2 1/2 baths, a lot of closet space, a two car garage and a reasonable price. The lot we have has a walk-out basement with nine foot ceilings, so we will gain even more space when we eventually finish that off.  The Willows actually exceeded our expectations."

Ed and Karen sold their first home in just one week, and they will be moving to The Willows in mid October.

When Joyce Ellen and Kate Sullivan gave their real estate agent a list of priorities for a new home, it included many of the top 10 features from the focus group, plus a master bedroom on the first floor.  The Willows offers two models, The Birch and The Maple with first level master suites, so Kate, who is a special education teacher and Joyce, who has her own business called "Simplify with Joyce Ellen", had two models to choose from.  

"It’s everything we wanted in a new home," said Joyce.