Locustville? MJH selects developer for 'community'
Old Trail Village isn't the only master planned development making news. Martha Jefferson Hospital has selected a Charlotte, NC-based real estate company to handle the estimated $170 to $200 million development of its 14-acre Locust Avenue campus. The hospital is moving into a new 88-acre location on Pantops Mountain in 2012, after more than 100 years in its current location, and had launched a national search for proposals to develop what they'll be leaving behind.
"More than 25 firms responded," says MJH spokesman Steve Bowers, " but we finally winnowed it down to Crosland. They totally get it all, and they have the experience and capital to create a place that could really please everybody."
What Crosland appears to get, says Bowers, is that the MJH site will have to balance alot of interests– economic, demographic, the extension of the downtown area, and preserving a classic neighborhood.
"Martha Jefferson Hospital has been very clear about what is important to them: preserving the site's history and their legacy at this location, creating a vibrant plan that fits the neighborhood, and transitioning this property into a new, great place for Charlottesville," said Crosland's Steve Mauldin in a release.
"They were interested in the project for a long time," says Bowers, "and have a good track record, especially in Central Virginia."
As Bowers points out, Crosland has worked with Celebration Associates on its Bundoran Farm project, a 2,300-acre high-end "preservation" development on which 90 percent of the land is protected by easements. The property is just up the road from 450-acre Sutherland Farm, much of which is also protected by easements, and which was in the news recently when its owners tried to demolish some historic structures. The founder of Celebration Associates, Charles Adams, spearheaded the famous Walt Disney Company master planned community, Celebration, Florida, which occupies 4,900 acres in Osceola County and cost a whopping $2.5 billion to develop.
Bowers says that once the deal is finalized, the planning stages could begin late this summer or early fall.
"And that would include public discussions with neighbors, and public forums with the city," says Bowers. "There's nothing firm about what the design will look like at this point."
However, the proposals Crosland submitted include condos, townhomes, single family homes, open spaces areas, office buildings, and retail space, as well as a 15,000-square foot grocery store. In addition, historic properties, such as the 80-year old Patterson Wing of the hospital, will be preserved, and some of the homes that were converted to hospital offices may become homes again.
At first, MJH simply planned to sell the property to a willing developer, but Bowers suggests the hospital may want to get into the real estate business.
"The real financial reward could come down the road, so the hospital might stay involved," says Bower, "to have a stake in the project."
But why not just sell the property and pocket the cash? Certainly, it will be money needed for the new hospital.
"About two years ago, the hospital's board decided this wasn't all about money," says Bowers. "It was about a legacy. Twenty years from now, people will still be saying, 'yeah, that's the site of the old Martha Jefferson Hospital.' We want to be proud of what happens there...we want it to be special."