For nearly 30 years, Barrington of Aurora has set the standard for development in Aurora, but it was not the first golf course development.
That honor belongs to The Highlands, the neighborhood that grew up near the former Aurora Country Club Golf Course before and after World War II, according to Aurora Historical Society President and Museum Curator John Kudley, who also serves on City Council.
"That development was supposed to go all the way out to Sunny Lake the way it was advertised," he said.
Kudley said Walden, another golf course development, was builtin the 1980s off South Bissell Road. Barrington is the latest and most visible golf community, and Kudley also said it was "another neighborhood that afforded a different segment of society to move in and add to the dynamics of Aurora."
Homes in the area near where Phase 6 along Club Drive West will be built are valued around $1 million, according to the Portage County property tax records.
Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said Barrington’s more exclusive homes were part of a trend in the 1990s, when the early phases of the development were built.
"Barrington is one of the larger subdivisions in the city of Aurora, and the start of the ’90s saw a larger price point in housing for the city," she said. "The larger price point in homes during the ’90s follows the trend in the increase in median household income."
She said census data for Aurora indicated median household income in the city rose from $29,212 in 1980 to $56,506 in 1990, then to $70,998 in 2000.
"The median household income and the economy seem to drive the amount of residential development rather than the development of a specific subdivision," she said, adding the 1990s also saw the development of Lakes of Aurora, Hawthorn, Deep Woods, Dunendan and Homestead.
Ward 3 City Council member Reva Barner, a resident of Barrington, said that having a gated community like Barrington "does bring prestige" to Aurora, but she also said it represents a net tax benefit to the schools while not adding a great deal of upkeep for city crews as a private neighborhood.
"The homes there are in a higher price range, so, therefore, the taxes that go toward the schools benefit the schools," she said.
Because the development is gated and the roads private, she said the development represents less of a burden on the city’s service department which does not have to plow and perform other upkeep it performs on city-owned roads.
She said Aurora is well-situated to attract homeowners like like those in Barrington with its excellent schools.
"I think Aurora is a charming, quaint community," said Barner. "Not everyone in Barrington golfs, but they love the community and want to raise a family here."
At least one Cleveland celebrity — Cleveland Indians great Jim Thome — has lived at Barrington, but Barner said she’s unaware of other local celebrities who call the 600-plus-acre development home.
Barner also said that many areas of Barrington are unique because homes are custom-designed, which she said prevents the "cookie-cutter" look of some newer neighborhoods.
"Aurora has enough things in our community to keep people there," said Barner. "The other amenities they don’t mind driving to if they’re outside the community."
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, firstname.lastname@example.org or @bobgaetjens_rpc.