Transcendentalist author Henry David Thoreau once wrote in his classic book Walden, “We need the tonic of wildness.” In this book from 1854, Thoreau wrote about his life in the woods in Massachusetts, which focused on simple living in nature and privacy. His serene way of life surrounded by nature served as inspiration for Walden Monterey, an eco-minded, gated residential community in Monterey, California.
Located just 80 miles from Silicon Valley and 100 miles from San Francisco, Walden Monterey is a luxurious and contemporary living community set on 600 acres of land overlooking Monterey Bay. It has just 22 homesites, each with 20 acres of private land.
Nature and sustainability are at the forefront of this idyllic community, Walden Monterey is designed for people who seek a lifestyle rooted in nature. The property has its own solar power grid system and will have 200 acres of open space for homeowners to enjoy, as well as a community trail system, Zen meditation garden, kids’ treehouse, communal organic garden and a vineyard.
Nick Jekogian, president and CEO of Signature Group Investments, acquired the property in 2015 and originally planned to build it as a golf community. However, after staying on the property and realizing the positive effect being surrounded by nature brought, he wanted to encourage others to find their purpose through nature. He began developing Walden Monterey, a one-of-a-kind agrihood concept, in 2017. Agrihood is a community that integrates agriculture into a residential neighborhood.
Jekogian, who has been in the real-estate industry for more than 25 years, brought together a dynamic team of artists, architects, environmental engineers, wellness and mindfulness experts, landscape architects and sustainability specialists to create a one-of-a-kind community with innovative design. Firms working with Walden Monterey include Luce et Studio, Feldman Architecture, MAD Design, Surface Landscape Architects, Axelrod Architects, Eric Miller Architects, SERA, Carmel Development Company, Lutsko Associates, Fougeron Architecture, Larson/Shores, Open Space Architecture, Rana Creek Design, Bone Structure and Hayward Healthy Homes.
What’s unique about this development is the autonomy of the design of your home. Unlike some developments that encourage similar structures and design elements, homeowners and architects are allowed full design freedom. No two homes will be the same.
Owners have just two rules when designing their homes: they are not allowed to remove trees and renewable energy is required. Jekogian aims for the property to have a net-zero impact on the environment. Each home’s architecture will take inspiration from nature, whether it’s building asymmetrical roofs to reflect the irregular topography of the land, or using natural materials and color palettes.
There will also be a “try-before-you-buy” option. Prospective buyers will have the opportunity to stay in a modern, minimal glass structure, each designed by one of the architects on board, that acts as a roving guest house. This moveable cabin allows future homeowners to experience which plot they like best on the property before permanently settling down. Buyers can also purchase these structures.
“When people come to Walden they relax and think differently, and work/life balance is certainly maximized,” Jekogian tells Forbes. “Walden Monterey is now perfectly positioned to become the choice for a permanent primary home.”
Walden Monterey’s first five homesites became available to purchase in August, and the rest are slated to debut in Spring 2021. These secluded and private homesites are particularly beneficial as companies encourage working from home amid the Covid-19 pandemic and as wealthy urbanites leave cities in favor of less-dense areas.
“As a result of the current pandemic, people are re-evaluating the quality of life that they’re looking for,” Jekogian says. “With our philosophy of ‘living deliberately’ within a sanctuary of nature, the recent societal shifts have made Walden Monterey an even more desirable location for buyers who are looking for a community at the intersection of nature and luxury.”
Walden Monterey is perfect for Silicon Valley tech executives or city dwellers in San Francisco, as it’s just a short drive to and from the city, but is totally ensconced in nature. Homeowners will also have the luxury of being near fabulous dining, shopping and hiking, as its a close drive to Downtown Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur.
Jekogian hopes to attract a like-minded community and will have several activities for owners, like a fellowship program for education on sustainability, as well as Walden Gatherings, a program featuring conversations about nature.