Old Trail Ramps Up Construction

New townhouses under construction in Old Trail.
New townhouses under construction in Old Trail.

Construction in Old Trail has ramped up this spring with two new phases projected, one a section of townhouses next to the new swimming pool and the other a mix of townhouses and single-family homes on a cleared area next to the shopping center.

Builder Sam Craig will do most of the new units, said Old Trail developer Gaylon Beights. “He’s gotten his act together in terms of marketing and options for house design.”

Beights said Craig had withdrawn from the new construction market earlier than most other builders and was less exposed to risk when the market collapsed. He now appears better able to anticipate its revival.

Seven townhouses will be built next to the pool in the $200,000 price range, Beights said. Each will have a first-floor garage and many have second-floor porches. Five of the units are already sold. A second section of five similar units that will go nearby is also pre-sold. These, slightly narrower, will be in the $189,000 range and are being built to partially satisfy the development’s 15 percent affordable housing requirement.

Craig has also recently sold eight custom houses in the $680,000 to $800,000 range in the area of Old Trail called “Creekside.” A handful of houses in the $500,000 to 600,000 price range will be built in the area called Carriage Park, the approach to Jarmans Gap Road. All but two of the houses now under construction are sold.

“We’ve had record sales in the first quarter of the year,” Beights said. “We’ve sold 100 percent more homes than we sold in 2008”—which Beights said was the development’s worst year—“and we have matched our 2009 sales” of 25 houses. Beights predicted that 100 houses will be sold in Old Trail in 2010.

The area south of the shopping center will have 68 townhouses, some with first floor master suites, starting at $229,000 and 80 single family houses on quarter-acre lots ranging in price up to $450,000. There will also be 54 apartments in two buildings.

“We’re trying to finance the second phase of the retail buildings now,” said Beights. “We’d like to build it in 2011. We have interest from retail tenants.”

An assisted living facility that would house 125 residents in a building facing the shopping area parking lot is still looking for financing, said Beights. The project has approval from the county. “We hope it will start later this year. Things are finally getting a little easier in financing.

“You have to find a bank that was wise enough not to be over-committed in real estate. This new phase of ours was a $7 million land deal and probably the only land loan made in Virginia last year.” Beights said the loan was made through the Bank of Essex in Tappahannock. Community Bank of Louisa is financing the Craig townhouses, he said.

Old Trail’s recovery is quicker than some other developments because of infrastructure advantages, according to Beights. “The big change for us is that we have all our amenities in place, the pool, the golf course and the town center. The next thing we did was allow our builders to select their marketing teams. We switched from having one marketing representative to seven companies representing us.

“In ’09, Crozet was the strongest [real estate] market in the county. I believe we do better because we have the mountains, the schools, Harris Teeter, and downtown Crozet is historical and has romance to it. The master plan process is trying to shrink the [town’s] density and that’s a positive to a new resident. You can sell that.”

Beights said the golf course is trying to cater to women players and has approached the Virginia State Golf Association about sponsoring a women’s tournament.

“We think that could be our niche,” he said.


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