Heritage Harbor Ottawa Blog

Category: Second Home

Adventure to discover in the Ottawa, IL area

Ottawa is a community full of fun, adventure and educational experiences the entire family will enjoy.

From taking the boat out at Heritage Harbor Marina to spotting bald eagles flying over the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center, there are plenty of places to explore and discover. Here are just a few:

Illinois Waterway Visitor Center – The Illinois River is central to life in Ottawa, and the nearby Starved Rock Lock and Dam provides a great opportunity to see how the river historically changed business and trade in the community. Tours are available, but you can also give yourself a self lesson reading the educational signs. In winter months, catch views of the American Eagle soaring overhead on air currents.

Illinois Waterway Visitors Center

Reddick Mansion – 100 West Lafayette St. – Much of Ottawa’s history is centered in this home. Built by William Reddick, who served both as a sheriff and state senator, the building became Ottawa’s first public library upon his death. Tours are available, so be sure to schedule yours today.

Buffalo Range Shooting Park – Taking aim at a target, holding your breath and squeezing the trigger isn’t something you can practice every day. Schedule a visit to this female-owned outdoor shooting range to perfect your aim.

Skydive Chicago – If the shooting range didn’t do enough to get your adrenaline rushing, jumping out of a plane certainly will. From first-time jumpers to experienced sky divers, you’ll get your thrills here!





Fox Valley Off Road – Located just a few miles north of Heritage Harbor Ottawa, this ATV park has plenty of trails and beautiful countryside scenery you can enjoy all year long. No matter if you’re a first-time ATV rider or you have been riding the trails for years, you’ll find something at Fox Valley to pique your interest.

State parks – Starved Rock State Park is the largest and most well-known in the Ottawa area, but Buffalo Rock and Matthiessen parks are very close as well. All parks have hiking trails, beautiful natural landscapes and wonderful views of the rivers. You can spend a day in each park, and you’ll want to return frequently to witness the changing seasons.

Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum – 1100 Canal Street – Ottawa is where the Boy Scouts of America started, and the city celebrates this history with an extensive collection of Boy Scouting displays. Some contain items more than 100 years old.

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Heritage Harbor makes it easy to buy a second home

It can take a lot of time and energy to shop for a second home.

You have to research the location, the actual house and its surrounding community, too. With low interest rates making now a great time to invest in a second home, you probably want to move quickly so you can enjoy your home during next summer’s boating season. What’s great about a growing community like Heritage Harbor Ottawa is that the process of buying a second home is simplified – so much so that you’ll wonder why you didn’t sign on sooner.

Let’s talk about location first. Just over an hour’s drive from the Chicago area, Ottawa is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in Illinois. It’s where the Illinois and Fox Rivers join, providing beautiful views of the water. It’s within a short drive of Starved Rock Nature Preserve and State Park, called a “little pocket of the North Woods” by the Chicago Tribune. There are plenty of adventures to be explored, from water sports to ATV trails and skydiving. And if you just need to get away from city life, Ottawa and the surrounding communities have that small-town charm to provide you with the rest and relaxation you need. Heritage Harbor has everything you want in one location.

Second is making your home choice. Review The Homes page on our website to determine which option best meets your needs for your second home. It might be a custom-designed house right on the riverfront, a townhouse that gives your family more flexibility to come and go as you please or something in between. If you have a real estate agent working on your behalf, our Heritage Harbor Resort & Lifestyle Consultants are available to address any questions that come up.

Finally, plan your big move. Some families in Heritage Harbor choose to use their home as a vacation rental when they’re not in residence, and this greatly influences how they design the home. Our Rental Program is managed and operated by Heritage Harbor Ottawa Marina, and they will give you guidance on the furnishings and decorations you should include in your vacation rental home. If you don’t plan to list your property as a vacation rental, make certain you bring all the water-sports equipment you own! Heritage Harbor Marina is world-class, and you don’t want to miss out on all the fun activities you can enjoy while visiting your second home.

Don’t delay! The summer boating season will be here before you know it, and you don’t want to miss out on the fun next season at Heritage Harbor Ottawa.


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Ottawa a delightful and perfect location for a second home

As the #1 attraction in Illinois, Starved Rock State Park gets millions of visitors each year.


Many of those visitors are repeats, coming often to enjoy the beautiful and rustic scenery found in the park and surrounding areas. Not only is the state park a huge draw, but the surrounding communities of Ottawa, Oglesby and North Utica have lots of charm for an enjoyable and extended weekend stay.

Because of the area’s beauty, owning a vacation property in Ottawa gives your family the opportunity to spend as much time as you want exploring the park and countryside for long weekend and week-long vacations. Heritage Harbor Ottawa is a vacation marina resort community rising out of the banks of the Illinois River. Many families look into building a second home in this area because of its location, resources and value. Not only would your second home be a short drive away from the state park, but it’s a short drive from your home. With Ottawa fewer just over an hour from most suburbs, you will use your vacation home more often. Yet it’s far enough away that you know you got-away. You can spend afternoons boating on the river, participating in festivals and local attractions or hosting a weekend getaway from the chaos of the city.

Like the resort communities of Lake Geneva in Wisconsin or Galena, Ottawa has plenty of adventurous activities to keep anyone entertained, all without losing the characteristics of a small-town lifestyle. Heritage Harbor Ottawa resort itself has a world-class marina, providing all the water sporting activities you could imagine for every season of the year. Plus, within a short drive you can find miles of hiking trails, horseback riding opportunities, ATV trails and even sky diving.

Ottawa itself offers you the perfect excuse to explore. Go shopping in the book stores and boutiques, catch one of the many events happening in the town or spend an afternoon in one of the museums, all without having to spend a night in a hotel. Instead, head back to your waterfront home to spend an evening relaxing on your couch with a good book, watching a fun movie on the TV or catching some much-needed Zs in your own bed.

Building a second home in Heritage Harbor Ottawa will give your family the escape you want, and need, and the setting couldn’t be more perfect! You can come and visit as much as your schedule allows, taking in the beauty of the country at all times of the year. Click here to set up a tour or get more info!


Introducing the Flite Series

Heritage Harbor, Ottawa’s luxury waterfront community, is pleased to announce a partnership with the award-winning, Chicago-based architecture firm Nicholas Design Collaborative for its newest addition of homes, the Flite Series. Ground breaks on this exciting new project Tuesday, May 27.

Bringing modern sophistication to Heritage Harbor’s existing fleet of Cape Cod and Nantucket-style homes, the Flite Series features four state of the art, glass-abundant townhomes situated directly along the Illinois River.

Peter Nicholas – who founded his collaborative in 1989 after working with esteemed Chicago firms Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and Booth/Hansen and Associates – introduces farmhouse vernacular in bringing the Flite Series to life. Named after the area’s famed eagle sightings, each home boasts dual, floor-to-ceiling glass windows covering the front and rear expanse, offering mirror-like views to the spectacular scenic river, located just steps away.

The new construction town-homes feature a distinctive layout, with two-car garages positioned in front of each home. Picturesque walkways guide the way to the front entrance, and a 4-foot wooden fence borders lush front yards and ensures the utmost privacy for homeowners.

Once inside, the spacious interior includes three levels of comfortable living space filled with an abundance of natural light. Homes include two-three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an open dining room, living room, versatile flex space and a galley kitchen with an 8-foot marble island.

“We are moved by the vision that Peter and his team have brought to this project,” said Heritage Harbor’s visionary and developer Tom Heimsoth. “They bring a holistic approach to modern design that seamlessly blends with the untouched natural surroundings of Starved Rock Country. We think our current and future homeowners will appreciate the stunning look of the Flite Series and the aesthetic it will add to our waterfront community.”
All homes in the Flite Series are designed with low-maintenance composite materials –
including Austrian-imported laminate wood floors, cable railings, natural stone fireplaces and furnishings and stainless steel appliances.

The two homes flanking the series include vast, wrap-around windows and an additional first level master suite, showcasing stunning views of the Illinois River. The two end units of the series provide a 2,966 square foot living space and the interior units offer a 2,578 square foot space.

“It was easy to find inspiration here,” said Peter Nicholas. “We believe in utilizing materials and construction techniques that express the individuality of the homeowner. Those who buy at Heritage Harbor draw inspiration from the lush greenery, the wildlife and all the pleasures of living on the water. These homes capture and celebrate those elements.”

The Flite Series is developed by Entre Partners, who will debut the first townhome in October 2014. Homes are available for purchase now, with prices starting at $415,000. For more information, please contact Tammy Barry at (815) 433-5000.

About Nicholas Design Collaborative
Nicholas Design Collaborative is a holistic practice dedicated to the art of design and construction. For over 24 years, NDC have created environments that enhance people’s lives at home and in the workplace. Led by owner, Peter Nicholas, the firm’s portfolio spans from homes to corporate offices and event venues across the Chicagoland area. For more information, visit www.nicholasdc.com.

About Entre Partners
Entré Partners was founded on the principle of developing properties that are contextual by incorporating a design aesthetic that is sensitive to the site and it’s surroundings, the environment and the community while offering a modern and exciting vernacular. Entré Partner’s principal, Cary B. Kerbel, is a licensed architect with 30 years of experience who strives to create living and working environments that offer a harmonious blend of innovative design, quality construction and value pricing.


Urban Living Meets Natural Charm at West Harbor Lofts

Located just 90 minutes from downtown Chicago, Heritage Harbor has recently introduced a selection of townhomes—the West Harbor Lofts — to the resort’s selection of real estate options. An ideal retreat for adventure-seekers looking for a second home, the West Harbor Lofts are a fleet of six new construction, four-story townhomes overlooking the Illinois River in Ottawa, IL.

Designed with both comfort and an active lifestyle in mind, West Harbor Lofts combine the style and convenience of urban living with the excitement and views of living on the waterfront. The townhomes feature a tandem garage (with extra storage for boating and sporting equipment), two bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, first floor flex space, 9 foot high ceilings, ample storage space, an outdoor grilling patio and an expansive, private rooftop deck overlooking the harbor. Both furnished and non-furnished units are available with prices starting in $270,000’s.

The Heritage Harbor resort features an assortment of elegant home options, including single-family homes, condominiums and The Cottages at Heron’s Landing. Celebrating the natural beauty of the Starved Rock Country, the more than 140 acres comprising Heritage Harbor provides residents and visitors with endless opportunities for entertainment and activities.

About Heritage Harbor
Located in Ottawa, Illinois, just 90 miles from downtown Chicago, Heritage Harbor features elegant homes, walk-able neighborhoods, a world-class marina, dining, activities, adventure and amenities. The community is composed of “pocket neighborhoods” with traditional neighborhood designs and inspired architecture. More than year-round recreation, natural beauty and access to one of Illinois’ best-kept secrets – it’s a place you’ll want to call home.


harbormaster You’ve discovered Heritage Harbor and you had a great time in Starved Rock Country (or if you haven’t visited us yet, you want to). You now have the desire to go back any time you want and serve as the arbiter of great vacations for others. And hey, if you make some money along the way, there’s nothing wrong with that. Congratulations…you’ve taken your first step toward buying a vacation home.

Let’s look at 9 ways to make the most of your vacation home investment.

#9 Buy Only What You Can Afford
It’s not hard these days to figure out what you can afford. The internet is virtually choked with mortgage calculators to help you figure that out. You simply enter what you make and what you owe, and the calculator will tell you how much more the banks will lend you.

The lending environment has changed substantially over the past decade. At Heritage Harbor you can choose your own lender or use one of our preferred lenders that can help you meet your goals.

harbormasterEven if you view the vacation home as a potential way to earn income, don’t count on that income to help you pay for the house. Keep in mind that you don’t have to buy the ultimate or largest home right away. It’s OK to start small and within the resort there are multiple opportunities to ‘step up’.

#8 Factor In Extra Costs
Once you know what you can afford for the loan, take another look at total costs for running the house.

At the very least, you’ll have to cover taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities. The Homeowner’s Association allows for low-maintenance of the care of your home. The selection of building materials used on the homes was designed so that you have to do little care and no worries.

#7 Existing Vs. Vacant Land
The idea of building a house to suit your dreams is very appealing. To build a house from the ground up, we are here to help you through the process of dealing with local building trades and authorities. You can make the home as you want it. We will also make sure the association approval process is quick and easy.

But if you find that you are someone that doesn’t want to go through the process of building there is an inventory of homes all ready to buy. Regardless, you have to decide which one works best for you.

#6 Work With Someone That Knows the Area
You drive to Ottawa, and sure, it looks great. It’s picturesque. The boats bob gently in the Harbor. The little corner grocery carries your groceries out. But do you know where to go to church, where to shop and where to eat?

Your HHO Lifestyle Consultant would know that. They are a great resource for little-known information on hidden bonds, community events and special interest group.

#5 Make Sure the Home and Location Make for a Good Rental (if that’s your goal)
Ideally, vacation renters are looking for somewhere different to bring their families…a place close to activities, close to dining, for boaters–close to the marina, close to restaurant, comfortable furniture and a place to create memories. Think of your vacations and what made your stay special. If renting is important to you, view the home as if you were renting it for yourself….would it feel homey, would you be comfortable? Decide if you will rent it yourself (VRBO) or if you want a property management company. Set goals for yourself on how much you want to be able to use it personally and how much you want it in the rental pool. HHO has a flexible, on-site property management program you can research as an option.

#4 Research All Four Seasons Before Buying
It’s a good idea to visit the area or discuss with your sales person what the resort is like during every season. Heritage Harbor is open all year round and has an array of warm weather activities, but also in the winter the restaurant remains open, special events occur and a regulation ice skating rink will be within the resort. This helps ensure that you know how the community fares as the calendar unfolds.

#3 Make Sure Your Vacation Home is Easily Accessible.
If you love Mexico, plan a vacation there. If you’re purchasing a vacation home, though, you want to be able to use it more often than twice a year. Juggling kid’s schedules, traffic and long travel times will only add to your already stressful life…buying and enjoying a vacation home should eliminate those fears and allow you time to enjoy the things you work so hard for.

#2 Consider Joint Venture with Family or Friends
If owning a second home on your own doesn’t seem feasible, consider partnering with friends and/or family. These types of agreements can be beneficial for all parties involved, but make sure all your goals are in line about buying, selling, renting and using the property, then build a few precautions into your contract.

First, set down some rules about the percentages of ownership accorded each party and what rights those percentages confer. If you put in 70 percent of the money, does that mean you’re entitled to 70 percent of the proceeds from rent? And if the property is sold, do you get 70 percent of the sale price? It stands to reason that you would, but just to be on the safe side, get it in writing. Sometimes people remember numbers differently when money is involved.

Also, are you allowed to sell your share of the property? If so, can you sell it to anyone you want?

In any event, you want to make sure you know your partners in the deal very well, and make sure they’re willing to spell out every detail of the rights and privileges accorded with joint ownership.

#1 View the Home as a Form of recreation, Not Only an Investment
Be sure you’re buying a vacation home for the right reasons — a place for your family to gather for years to come is priceless.

Investment experts will be the first people to tell you that you’ll never make the money on a vacation house that you could make on other investments. So if you buy one, make sure, above all, that this is a house and an area you enjoy. It will be worth the cost if you spend as much time there as possible, put your heart and soul into caring for it or plan to keep the home in the family for future generations. You can’t put a price on that.

Pocket Neighborhoods, Traditional Neighborhood Development and Cottage Living

Heritage Harbor Ottawa is being developed in the finest tradition of some of America’s most iconic & memorable communities. We believe that a sense of “community” has more to do with quality than with quantity and we strive to see that value reflected in everything we do. Whether our customer is a passionate boater , a full-time resident or simply seeking to spend the weekends at a vacation cottage, we want Heritage Harbor to be the place they call “home”.

The Heritage Harbor development vision focuses on developing a community with a broad spectrum of attractive homes, timeless architecture, walk-able neighborhoods, a world-class marina, dining, events, activities, adventure and amenities.    Heritage Harbor is “new urbanism”, “pocket neighborhoods“, and “traditional neighborhood development“.

Recently the Chicago Tribune published an article that highlights some of the benefits and features offered by Pocket Neighborhoods.  Ross Chapin is a well known architect from Washington’s Whidbey Island and he is helping developers with “re-envisioning” the traditional neighborhood.  According to Mary Beth Breckenridge’s article, “Chapin believes people are longing for simpler lives with more interpersonal connection.” 

“It’s the kind of existence he knew when growing up on a Minnesota lakeshore, in a neighborhood steeped in what he called ‘porch culture’-a culture where people had reason to venture outside their homes, where children could roam free and where neighbors interacted on a regular basis.”  At Heritage Harbor Ottawa…we feel the same way.  If you would like to read the article, please follow this link to the Chicago Tribune website.  Chicago Tribune article on Pocket Neighborhoods

Heritage Harbor Ottawa is a 142 acre master-planned, marina, resort community located at the gateway to Starved Rock Country in Ottawa, Illinois on a 32 acre harbor with water-frontage to the scenic Illinois Waterway. Heritage Harbor is uniquely positioned to offer a unique resort lifestyle to residents and guests.  The community is located less than ninety minutes from downtown Chicago, Rockford, Bloomington, Peoria and less than two hours from Champaign-Urbana.  The Starved Rock Country area is recognized and well-regarded as a “getaway” location for people in Illinois & throughout the Midwest.  The combination of recreational amenities & accessibility make Ottawa an ideal location for a premier resort community.

As resort developers and “place creators”, Heritage Harbor is striving to deliver a memorable and enduring resort community development project.  Heritage Harbor has already constructed one of the Midwest’s finest marinas.  Heritage Harbor has established a strong brand and a reputation for delivering a world class resort lifestyle.  Through hard work, strong leadership, diligent planning and continuous innovation, Heritage Harbor Ottawa continues to build a world class resort community.  We believe that concepts like “Pocket Neighborhoods” and “Traditional Neighborhood Development” not only produce a more appealing streetscape…but a more appealing lifestyle.


Heritage Harbor Declares its Dedication to ‘New Urbanism,’ and ‘Pocket Neighborhoods’. Watch for New Spec Home!

As resort developers and “place creators,” Heritage Harbor Ottawa in Starved Rock Country, Illinois, is striving to deliver a memorable and enduring resort community development project. To do this, the HHO team has announced its dedication to emphasizing its already established “Traditional Neighborhood Development” feel.

New Urbanism, Traditional Neighborhood Development and other development concepts, such as “Pocket Neighborhoods,” are guides for the development vision at Heritage Harbor Ottawa. As the Midwest resort community and full-service marina moves into another spring season of construction, development and growth, it will continue to move in this community-driven direction.

Heritage Harbor has already constructed one of the Midwest’s finest full-service marinas and has established a strong brand and a reputation for delivering a world class resort lifestyle. Now, the riverside resort looks to also be a recognized example of Traditional Neighborhood Development – a comprehensive real estate planning system including a variety of housing types and land uses in one defined area.

Click here to read more…

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Say “Hello” To the NEW West Harbor Lofts

WOW…we are so excited! As soon as the weather cooperates, concrete work will begin on the newest member of the Heritage Harbor Ottawa Adventure Living! We have kept comfort, entertaining and adventure in mind as we designed this 4-story townhome overlooking the Harbor. Your West Harbor Loft would include a tandem garage, two-bedroom, two and a half baths, flex space, an outdoor grilling deck overlooking the future community pool and last BUT not least…an amazing rooftop deck with incredible views of the Harbor and Starved Rock Country. Our introductory offer includes your choice of 1-year FREE boat slip rental, two Hobie Kayaks (or one tandem kayak) or 1-year Quest Membership. Call (815) 433-5000 to get a copy of the floor plans and reserve your Adventure Loft now!

Resort Heritage Harbor Explains the Real Estate How-To’s for Winter

When it comes to winter, hibernation is for the bears, not the real estate industry. The winter tends to get overlooked in the real estate industry, especially when it comes to vacation homes, but savvy buyers know it can be the time to pounce on a great deal.

Heritage Harbor Ottawa, premier waterfront resort and marina in Ottawa, Ill., recently spoke with real estate professionals from around the nation to get the scoop on winter buying and why the low competition of the holidays has its perks.

It’s no secret that due to current economic factors everyone is looking for the best deal, says Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate Executive Vice President Wendy Forsythe. But those same economic factors could play a role in reversing the negative stigma associated with winter buying and selling. This winter, in particular, shows significant growing potential, she says.

“Heading into this winter, we are experiencing a couple of economic factors that work very much in a potential home owners favor…” Forsythe says. “One: historically low interest rates. And two: house prices that in many markets have hit the bottom and are beginning to show signs of appreciation. For homebuyers who have been sitting on the side lines waiting to jump into the market, this means the wait may be over and this winter may be the time to buy.”

According to Forsythe, it’s likely that home buyers will see the value and jump into the market this winter. She foresees that as the recovery strengthens and confidence builds, so will the home selling competition. So, jumping in sooner rather than later is the best bet.

Read the full article.

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