HEBRON, Ky. -- It took John and Dana Toebben about 25 years of patient effort -- some of it involved door-knocking -- to buy up nearly 400 contiguous, developable acres between Hebron and the Ohio River. What they have to show for it today is a 30-acre horse boarding facility and an 8,000-square-foot estate home they built and moved into three months ago.
What they'll have to show for it in 20-25 years, they hope, will be a lot more: as many as 1,000 single-family homes and apartments, various shops and 10 miles of horse trails.
The Toebbens are calling their projected $1 billion community Rivers Pointe Estates, and they're inviting friends, family and prospective community residents to come out on Aug. 26 and 27 to see their river-view dream home and the land it overlooks from a perch on Roundup Ridge.
The event doubles as an open house and a fundraiser to fight Alzheimer's disease, which afflicted John's mother, Laverne Toebben, for 10 years before she died in 2011.
Developing a horse-themed community comes naturally to John, whose German-immigrant father founded Toebben Builders of Crescent Springs and had his son pouring concrete by age 10. John enjoyed a lot of horseback riding as a youth, as did his recently retired schoolteacher wife and her two daughters.
"It was a natural equation for all of us," John said of the housing-equestrian blend. "Dana always had horses, and I grew up with horses."
In advance of their Tour for the Cure event, which benefits the Alzheimer Association Greater Cincinnati Chapter, the Toebbens invited us out for a tour of the contemporary masterpiece John designed and built.
"We always were going to build a house here," John said. "But we didn't have a site," Dana added. "I literally went knocking on doors looking for people to sell their property around here, and this one turned up eventually."
Their house sits on one of eight estate-size lots in the part of the development the Toebbens call the Reserve at Rivers Pointe. John -- who grew up in Fort Wright, attended Covington Catholic High School and earned a degree in homebuilding and construction from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas -- poured his decades of experience into a design that allows for single-floor living and entertaining for him and Dana with large spaces for guests to play and sleep on the floor below.
"It's an age-in-place theme," John said, that meets the lifestyle needs of their blended family, especially their present and future grandchildren. The lower level, which spans the 58-foot depth of the house, is a child's paradise with wall-to-wall carpeting, pool and ping-pong tables, a shuffleboard table, two 72-inch flat-screen televisions and a walkout to the swimming pool. The kids' bedroom can sleep six in its two bunk beds that have double mattresses on the lower level.
Adults will experience a more mature wow factor when they enter the 4-bedroom, 5 1/2-bathroom house from the backside, which features a front-of-the-house, contemporary look, a large carport and a four-car garage.
The interior design, John said, takes full advantage of the river views, so windows with subtle treatments naturally are everywhere as are walkouts to two patios, one that's screened and large enough for a party crowd.
There are two star spaces on the first floor: the living room/kitchen/dining space and the master suite, all of which were decorated with all-new furnishings in an "equine light" theme by Erin Tuemler, founder of Interior Design Consulting of Bellevue.
One big space
Guests pick up the dramatic view of the Ohio River Valley upon entering the house, but they might be drawn first to the chandelier dangling from the 23-foot-high, false-beamed and vaulted ceiling in the living room. Designed by Ralph Lauren, the polished chrome piece is 5 feet wide and features three circular tubes of ascending circumference held together with leather straps and stirrup-motif supports.
Columns sheathed in manmade cultured stone, flooring changes from white oak to polished travertine tile and a 20-foot-long, quarter-circle island made of Brazilian granite that seats nine divide the open space into its three rooms. A smoky-gray cupboard with an imbedded television divides the kitchen from John's spacious bourbon and wine room.
It's a lot to look at, but the eye tends to return to the windows in the living room and beyond the 14-seat table in the dining room.
"The view was always the main focal point of the design," Tuemler said. "We wanted to highlight that with what we did."
John's favorite spot to watch is at about 11 o'clock out the windows.
"The sun rises right there in the dip of that ridge," he said, pointing out the dining room window. "It's beautiful."
The master suite
Dana, who grew up riding horses in Anderson Township and graduated from Turpin High School and Xavier University, took over our tour when it came time to view the master bathroom.
Large enough to hold two games of Twister, it features a granite-encased soaking tub with a view of Rivers Pointe Stables through windows whose built-in shades go up and down at the touch of a button.
Dana's personal vanity includes a makeup station with a poofy, white faux fur seat, and the hardware on her drawers sparkle with inlays of gem-like bling. Stone dominates the decor, but soft wood trim around the windows creates the subtle horse-barn ambience the Toebbens desired, as do the wood beams of the master bedroom's coffered ceiling.
See it yourself
The Toebbens will host a VIP tour 5-9 p.m. on Aug. 25. Tickets cost $100 and are being sold in advance only. Tickets for the Aug. 26 and 27 tours are $15 in advance, but $35, at-the-door tickets will be sold if they are available.
The house is not accessible to wheelchairs, and strollers are not allowed. Order Tour for the Cure tickets at eventbrite.com (search: Cincinnati/All Dates).
There is no parking on site. Shuttles will run from Northbend Park & Ride off Petersburg Road (Ky 20), just south of Interstate 275 near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.