Take a village: Old Trail on the block?
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 Ã¢â?¬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