Take a village: Old Trail on the block?

photophile-overviewIn 2006, Old Trail Village in Crozet played host to director Tom Shadyac and his movie Evan Almighty, which called for building an ark on the development.
PHOTO BY DON ANDERSON

Wanna buy a master planned community? Old Trail Village, the massive mixed-use development located in Crozet is for sale, according to an email sent to area developers by corporate real estate broker CB Richard Ellis. Although no price is listed, area realtors contacted by the Hook said the 260-acre development could fetch as much as $80 to $100 million.

However, according to Old Trail's developer, Gaylon Beights, it's simply a marketing tactic, not a cry for help.

"We are not for sale in the sense of any urgency," says Beights. "In tight markets, you simply have to try a broader approach.  This new email blast is an attempt to achieve a wider market."

Beights says the last blast brought in the developer for a new Senior Community, one that will close on a 4-acre lot next week.

"In short, we have always been for sale, a lot at a time, groups of lots, as in the sale of nine lots to Craig builders in January," says Beights. "We hope this new email blast interests someone from another market."

In 2006, mega-builder Ryan Homes made a Charlottesville splash by buying up 27 lots at Old Trail, but walked away several months later after selling only two houses.

Realtor Jim Duncan suspects Beights may have been doing a little damage control, as Duncan believes the CBRE email reached more recipients than Beights had intended.

"Yes, everything has always been for sale at Old Trail," says Duncan. "But it's more explicitly for sale than it has been. I'm sure if someone walked in with a check for $100 million, they'd probably take it."

Even Beights concedes that Old Trail has been tough to market in a rough economy.

"Our local builders are all cut off by the banks, and I want to keep our momentum," he says. "We've had four house sales this year, and ten lot sales.  We are down to only four builder 'specs' for sale, and I need a few more."

Duncan says sales have still been "very, very slow" in Crozet compared to other areas, and says there were recently four near-foreclosures at Old Trail.

"It was very bubblish there," says Duncan.  "And some of the townhouses people bought there could be a problem."

"There is not much new construction going on," writes realtor Jonathan Kauffman in a market report on Old Trail. "...only three builders (Craig, Beights, and Medallion) are actively building ’spec’ homes."

Kauffman said he was also concerned about the market for Old Trail's single family homes, which have an average price of $752,000.

"That is significantly higher than what sold in 2008," he writes. "In addition, these upper-middle price points have been most affected by the current housing and mortgage market."

Kauffman hopes that Old Trail delivers on all the promised amenities.

"The shops and restaurants of the Village Center have been ââ?¬Ë?coming’ for quite some time," writes Kauffmann. " However, it looks like they will open...I’m hearing late spring or early summer. We’ll see."

Kauffman mentions the new "green" Harris Teeter as a positive attraction which is scheduled to open next month. "The community pool is also under construction and is slated to be open this summer. That will be a big draw to potential residents."

Duncan believes Old Trail will eventually come around.

"The development can't become something else," says Duncan, referring to the proffers and the master planning that governed its creation. "But it's just going to take time."

–last updated 7:10am, Monday, April 27

Read more on: crozetdevelopment

29 comments

Oh my, comment spam.

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opps sorry typo. Last beginning should read as:

Reality Check and other liberal thinkers (assumed):
Smart growth does not mean "No Growth". "Lack of infrastructure, potential environmental damage" kind of a redundant statement. The only gray (green) area I see is that between the ears. Here it comes, in order to have growth you need infrastructure and when there is none creating some creates environmental damage when constructing said infrastructure.

Reality Check and other liberal thinkers (assumed):
Smart growth does not mean "No Growth". "Lack of infrastructure, potential environmental damage" kind of a redundant statement. The only gray (green) area I see is that between the ears. Here it comes, in order to have growth you need infrastructure when there is none thus creating some environmental damage when constructing said infrastructure. The only reason why there is a ââ?¬Å?lack of” is because of those like you that want to prevent growth by saying you are for ââ?¬Å?Smart Growth” and the best growth, as it was put to me by a Board of Supervisor during one of my presentations, was no growth. I too wish that when this land was formed millions of years ago, waterlines, storm drainage systems, and sanitary sewers were created as well. It would make my job much easier.

For those who are upset that there are some that can afford a $750,000 house, I say good for them. I can’t, but what I can afford is to speak for the little guy that built the road so the other guys could clear the land, pour the concrete, frame the house, build the roof, and landscaped the yard so at the end of the day they can feed their family and maybe, just maybe, he or she can start a small business of their own so they too can live the AMERICAN DREAM. Of course this would be with no help from people like you that are so self absorbed in what is good for yourself and really don’t care about the livelihood of others. Maybe you should go out and buy your own property so you can turn in into a park. But in order to do so you would want taxpayers to pay you to do so. Taxpayers, hmmmm. I don’t believe Old Trail, Beights Development or others have asked you for one red cent. I couldn’t with true morals stand behind that Liberal ideology of asking others to pay for my selfishness. I guess you’re in favor of taxpayers paying for these bailouts, but that’s another blog at another time both in the future.

And last but not least, for those that want to hammer the Planning department here you go. They go by the ordinance ââ?¬Å?the book”. But when there is some gray area (since we are throwing that around liberally) they take it to the Supervisors, who are voted in office by YOU. Every month development issues arise at these meetings. How many meetings have you been to? This next comment is for all, PARTICIPATE IN THESE MEETINGS AND SAY YOUR PART. It is invited and requested. Don’t ask others to speak for you or run for office. Do it yourself. Make a difference. You don’t need a law degree from Harvard to do so. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy talking to adjacent and local property owners because I want there input for our designs so they feel like part of the process and not like development is the problem. Remember a Win Win, is the perfect situation to an imperfect world. Sometimes we don’t win it all but it’s ok for others to win a little as well.

This is a reasonable place for a development. Many people want to live in a small town area (much as we do) yet it has great access to the interstate and even to any future rail development.

It is an excellent place to develop - instead of sticking it in the overdeveloped areas or in far rural sections of the county.

Agreed, all I said there are ways this land could have been saved and one of them is money. The Nature Conservancy is an enormously wealthy organization and could have purchased this land. The county could also have purchased this land for a park. It doesn't mean the land owner is not compensated. Think about it. The cost to the tax payer in services for this development would make the purchase of this land for a park cheap.

TJ:

The Beights purchased this property with (what should be) a legally protected right of use. Who do you think you are to attempt to tell someone after a legal purhcase of real estate that they will not be able to use their property for its intended legal purpose? Trying to change that right of use for that property (i.e. the value of the property) by lawsuit is wrongheaded and, quite frankly, simple.

Your desired course of action would yield what you want at extensive expense of others. Rather than ask someone to take a hit on their net worth to suit you, why don't you take the financial blow to get what you want? If you want to "protect" property, then buy it. If you can't afford that (I can't,) then you need to chalk this one up under the "Life Isn't Fair" column.

I don't much care for Old Trail or its developer; however, my chance to change this outcome was prior to the sale. So was yours. Save your money and get 'em next time.

What exactly is wrong with a new golf course or high end community? A higher end tax base would seem to be preferred over a lower end one.

Look at the City Planning Commission they aren't listened to why do you think Bill Lucy resigned. I'll bet the county is the same. The elected officials appoint the planning commission and put like minded people on it and then if those people don't follow their bidding they overrule them. We do need better elected officials

Sue, Buffalo Girl, and others: why don't we have people like you on the city and county Planning Commissions. It seems to me that at this point, it's your civic duty to step up and bring some sanity to both of those bodies. Pleeeeaaaaase!!!

Getoverit and affiliated lunkheads automatically think that if you're green, then you oppose growth. Doesn't the concept of SMART growth ever enter their thick skulls? Why is any concept that's not black & white, either/or, so hard for them to grasp? There's a huge gray area between irresponsible growth (lack of infrastructure, potential environmental damage etc) and no growth.

County's idea of affordable housing; another golf course community

Don't you remember that the owners at OT are going to be riding Segays all over Crozet...oh, is the Segway store still around ??
Well maybe they will have to walk... oh, wait, with no jobs you can't buy a +700K house.
Wait, you're building a pool ? Well where do I sign ? oh, the pool is just as small as the current Crozet pool ?

GREAT planning OT !!!!

sorry, meant to say doubt if the workers at Harris Teeter could afford to live there

What jobs will they be walking to at Old Trail ? Doubt if the residents who work at Harris Teeter could afford to live here.

The only thing master planned about this area is there will be concrete, asphalt and more concrete. The sups were so sold on the self contained community mantra, where everyone would walk to their jobs and shopping, they couldn't get enough of it. They have under estimated its growth and impact on Crozet. The county can't even fulfill their part. (roads, library, etc) Apparently the sups were dupt by the marketing done by the Old Trail’s developer and their proffers. Who will pay for the expansion of 250 and increased demand on resources?

Hope you're young.

The largest tax increase to burden Charlottesville and Albemarle citizens comes from uncontrolled growth--increased costs for roads, schools, water and sewer infrastructure, fire and police protection, and govenment services for all these people. Notice I didn't say no growth but what the county is now planning for is unlimited growth

Growth does not pay for itself --We do !

Getoverit,

So, if I'm understanding you correctly, your principal justification for the overbuilding of Crozet and the county is to provide jobs.

Spending money to stimulate the economy is fine (and certainly necessary at present) *if* the investment is going towards goods and/or services which are needed, which provide value, and for which there is a demand. But the demand for all this new housing in Crozet simply is not there.

You sound like the suits at GM, Chrysler, and Ford arguing (despite the fact that they produce product that is not in demand and have been told for decades that they need to change their ways, yet haven't) that they need to be handed a big pile of taxpayer money because they provide jobs.

In short, you want the current county residents/taxpayers to fund all this new infrastructure to support growth which is not in demand, not needed and not wanted. Talk about a boondoggle - that's the definition of it. What's that you were saying about bailouts - me thinks you need to change your handle from 'Getoverit' to 'Hypocrite'.

Andrew, he wants you to fund all this new infrastructure so developers can get rich --follow the money. The people in Loudoun got smart sure hope those in Ablemarle do too.

This place is doomed. Drive in there. The ugliest development I've ever seen. What a complete waste of a beautiful piece of property. Why didn't the Piedmont Environmental Council and Nature Conservancy put their energy into saving this beautiful farm and turning it into a park instead of using their energy to destroy an already existing park at Ragged Mt.

The development policies of the County are hypocritical. They want all the density in the urban ring but they're not willing to down-zone the rural areas, so now it's the worst of all possible worlds. And they want the roads to go through city parks and city neighborhoods but not their own and to burden city residents with a $200 million dollar water plan for unlimited growth in the county.

In case you didn't notice...this land was zoned for development long ago. There was no saving to be done. In fact, if it had been developed with a little restraint and modesty, it could have provided enough affordable house to keep the County's farmland from turning into 2 and 21 lots.

Slims, have you ever heard of down zoning, or conservation easements, or condemnation of land for public use. There were many ways this land could have been saved if an organization had come forward with the money and political power.

GO SUE! YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD! Smart Girl!!!!

The new commercial area is the ugliest development I have seen. So much potential and they build a horrific collection of buildings. They should have kept the ark.

Enough already. To all you tree hugging enviro's out there, sure it was ok to develope the land or subdivision you live in but god forbid we make it possible for other families to move here. Of course not let's pick on the developer and hide behind the green flag now that you have your place. Get this through your thick protein deprived head not all land can be preserved into a park. Who gets to pay for that? Well all of us, whereas most of us would not use it at all. Strangly it sounds like the same policy about two hours to the north of us.

There's some content related to this article on the Bubble Blog.

FWIW, getoverit, there aren't really any jobs or income streams coming into this area in the next several years that support single family homes of $752K, as stated in this article. The estimated median household income in Albemarle County is +/- $60K.

Additionally, there are more than enough developments with empty unsold properties, plus vacant unsold existing homes that need inhabitants, before the need to build any more housing might arise.

If I had the capital to purchase and ride out the current economy I would be all over this one.

emory, do you really thing being a planning commissioner can make a difference ? Looks like staff runs city government

However, the editor ofthe Progress is working damage-control.