24 January 2009

55+ Foreclosures -- No real surprise here, aside from the optimistic spin put on it by the gullible reporter

Four Seasons foreclosure
January 23, 2009
[Northern Virginia]

Most of the nearly 204 acres upon which the Four Seasons age restricted development sits in Ruckersville off U.S. 33 is set to be sold at auction Jan. 22. But one local realtor says it doesn’t mean the sky is falling, and zoning officials assure residents that the zoning will not change.

In June of 2005 Fried Companies and K. Hovnanian Homes broke ground on nearly 204 acres off U.S. 33 near Advance Mills Road in Ruckersville to make way for the construction of Greene’s first age-restricted gated community.

The Four Seasons Active Adult Community was to consist of 535 homes starting in the lower $300,000 range and a 16,000-square-foot clubhouse for athletic and recreational activities. It was expected to generate at least $1.5 to $1.75 million in real estate taxes annually, representing 9 percent of the county’s then-general fund local source revenue - along with another $1.5 million in sales tax each year.

Since then, the real estate market slumped, recession hit.

Now, the 203.905 acres, less lots and homes that have already been sold, is scheduled to be auctioned off on the courthouse steps in Stanardsville at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 22. It includes the land upon which the multi-million dollar 16,000-square-foot clubhouse sits. The clubhouse opened just last May.

The auction, by The Tranzon Companies, a nationwide organization of real estate auction professionals, is taking place as a result in a default of payment by Charlottesville Development, LLC to New York’s Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company.

No representatives of the parties involved commented for this article: either they refused comment, or could not be reached for comment.

However, Bill Gentry of Jefferson Land & Realty in Rochelle says the auction “does not mean the sky is falling or the project is going down the tubes.“

Gentry, along with county planners, explains that the terms “developer” and “builder” are not synonymous: the developer owns the land; the builder buys from the developer to build upon the land.

While Gentry makes it clear that he is not aware of any of the particulars of the coming auction, he has seen similar things happen over the years. He explains that if a builder’s sales slump, it sometimes happens that the developer is not able to move its land fast enough to keep the lien it has on its land current, and foreclosure ensues.

Based on his observances of similar situations, and his knowledge of real estate, Gentry adds: “In this economic climate, there are not likely to be too many buyers for that project. The bank might want to restructure the loan.“

But if that is not what happens, Four Seasons residents need not worry that the zoning for their community will change, say county planning officials.

The property - to be sold subject to conditions, restrictions, rights-of-way, easements, reservations and all other matters of record taking priority - is contained in a Senior Residential Zoning District.

In Greene, such districts can be either 100 percent or 80 percent age-restricted. If they are 100 percent age restricted, all of the residential units must be occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older. Guests or children 19 years old or younger are permitted for a maximum 21 days each calendar year. If a person under the age of 55 should, for example, inherit a home in the district and take title, he or she will not be able to reside there until he or she reaches the age of 55.

An exception to the rule is a surviving spouse under the age of 55: he or she can occupy a dwelling without regard to age.

Those districts that are 80 percent age restricted require that 80 percent of the residential units be occupied by at least on person 55 years of age or older.

There is another difference between senior residential zoning districts that are 100 percent and 80 percent age restricted.

Single family detached dwellings, duplex, triplex and quadplex-type dwellings, condominiums, townhouses, patio houses, apartments, and community facilities can all be built by-right in communities that are 100 percent age-restricted.

In 80 percent age-restricted communities, such dwellings can only be built via a special use permit.

The Four Seasons Active Adult Community is 100 percent age restricted. No type of dwelling permissible by right in such a district was ever restricted there.

As for the auction itself, documents provided by Tranzon state that the property may be sold as an entirety or as individual parcels. All or part of the property may be withdrawn from sale at any time before the bidding ends, or, any and all bids may be rejected.


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