In the face of a distressed real estate market, developers of Old Trail cheerily announced that 72 houses in the project were sold or placed under contract in 2010 and 60 of them were new. The remaining dozen were routine resales in established sections where the sellers had private reasons to sell.
“They’re selling out! Come fast!” quipped Gaylon Beights of Beights Development Company. Areas of the development with higher-priced lots are now sold out, he said, and only a handful remain available north of Lickinghole Creek. Meanwhile, development is proceeding on “Phase 9,” a block of 126 detached and townhouse units, plus about 56 apartments in two buildings, that will be next to the village commercial center.
Near it, on the east side of the village stores’ parking lot, will be a new 126-bed assisted living facility to be known as The Lodge at Old Trail. The facility will offer services ranging from basic to end-of-life care and memory care, all on a rental model. It is being built by David Hilliard, who has previously built and now operates two assisted living facilities in Vermont. The facility will have underground parking on its basement level, entered from behind the building, and that is being excavated now. There will be three floors above. Completion is expected in 18 months. The building was designed by local architects Russell Skinner and Richard “Jyke” Jones.
Beights Development formally transferred 48 acres, mainly lying along Lickinghole Creek, to Albemarle County in December to be the site of “Western Park.” Beights said he hopes the county will begin improvements soon. The transfer makes possible the creation of a walking path connecting Grayrock and other Jarmans Gap Road subdivisions to Henley Middle and Brownsville Elementary Schools.
“In hindsight, we had a financial meltdown. I lived through the crash of ’84 in Texas. I had never dealt with a world in which the financial institutions were the problems,” said Beights. “We’re in western Albemarle and that makes us better off. One of [Old Trail’s] advantages is that we have our amenities in place [the shopping area, the pool, and the golf course]. And we had investors that allowed us to stay and that allowed us to meet the market.”
“Our zoning also gives us options about things to offer,” added Justin Beights.
‘In every market now you will find Old Trails,” said Gaylon Beights. “You have an oversupply of houses, and we have to work through it.” A dozen more houses in Old Trail have gone under contract in January, he noted. If that were to become a trend, Beights said, “twelve sales a month would mean happy days.”
“The buyer for a new house is different than the buyer for a used house,” said Beights. “The buyer for a new house wants to pick the styles. The buyer for a used house is someone with an immediate need. Some people also can’t imagine something that is yet to be built.”
Old Trail has built 376 units and it is authorized to build 1,900 more. Beights predicted the development would sell 140 to 150 houses in 2011. In 2009, 27 houses sold and in 2008, 21 sold.