Meadowbrook Farm Estates
With the construction along Rt 15, it’s hard not to realize that the Meadowbrook Farm development is quickly moving forward. They have entered the phase where they are now actively selling, although it may not be until the summer before there is a model home for viewing.
I spoke with Luke Rowand, who is the Community Sales Manager for Van Metre Homes, and he showed me the models that will be available. The single family homes will range in size from 3350 SF to over 4000 SF with a few hundred square feet in a basement rec room Given base prices in the mid $600s, these homes will most likely be going under contract in the $700s. The larger homes will most likely be selling in the $800s.
For Phase I, the lot sizes will range from 1/5 of an acre to 1/3 of an acre, which will make many of them comparable to Woodlea Manor.
Although many of us would prefer an open field planted with corn and soy beans, it’s my opinion that Meadowbrook Farm will only help property values in Woodlea Manor. Assuming Rt 15 traffic continues to move relatively smoothly, having 3300 SF homes across the street that sell for $750,000 will be a benefit. At the very least, the sales will be strong comparables that support higher values for the neighborhood.
Obviously these will be new homes which will command a price premium, but from an appraisal point of view, Woodlea Manor has always suffered from a lack of comps that can bracket the estimated value from the high side. There are plenty of local sales in the $700s, but hardly any for properties on a third of an acre. Meadowbrook sales will make Woodlea homes much more likely to appraise in the high $600s and possibly in the low $700s.
The Church Property
There has been no further movement from the Christ Community Lutheran Church regarding their 15 acre parcel that backs to Jacob Court. The church distributed artistic renderings of what the buildings would look like but they have not submitted any plans to the county.
There are a number of obstacles that I see with their plans.
The current zoning limits the size of the facility. The postcards that they distributed to Woodlea Manor show something much larger than what is permissible.
The property is outside the Leesburg town limits which would mean well water and septic fields for the property. The church could request a BLA (Boundary Line Adjustment) that would bring the land into the town limits, however currently they have not made that request.
The church has approached the Woodlea Manor Board about the possibility of using Woodlea Drive to access the property. Without this access, I don’t see how the church could get approval to build a large pre-school given the amount of daily traffic entering and exiting RT 15.
It’s the position of our HOA Board that this is not something that is in our best interest. The local law firm of Sevila, Huddleston & White has been hired to represent us in this matter. The entrance to Woodlea is a differentiator for our neighborhood and it is my opinion that we should be willing to spend HOA funds to protect it. Expecting the Town of Leesburg to do this for us so we can save money is shortsighted. As of now, the Christ Community Lutheran Church has not submitted any request for a BLA that would bring the property within town limits.
Possible Cricket Fields Behind Gaines Court
The owner of the farmland that is located between Gaines Court and RT 15 is PSC LLC. Last summer they signed a LOI with a company called D-Sports Plex LLC, which is in the business of operating Cricket Fields. D-Plex met with the Loudoun County Department of Planning and Zoning in what is called a Pre-Submission Meeting for Site Plan (PSUB)
The request for a county PSUB showed 3 cricket fields as well as batting cages. The barn would remain for concessions and a bathroom, but there were no other additional structures discussed. The planned hours of operation would be during daylight hours only and there were no plans for lights.
The 12 acre lot is zoned AR-1. A permissible use of AR-1 is “Rural recreational establishment, outdoor” so D-Sports Plex doesn’t need the property to be rezoned. For them to proceed with their plans however, they will need to have a Site Plan approved by the county as well as the issuance of a Zoning Permit. As of right now, neither are on request with the county.
Future Residential Development in Leesburg
There are a number of new developments in Leesburg that I feel can affect our property values here in Woodlea Manor. Crescent Park and Crescent Place are 2 townhouse / condo developments that will put minimal pressure on the school system yet have a strong potential to increase business in downtown Leesburg. The builder Knutson Company also has the approval for more high end townhomes on South King Street at the location of the Battery Warehouse. As the downtown Leesburg area becomes more commercially viable and eventually more vibrant, the surrounding neighborhoods will benefit as well.
The Leegate development on the other hand seems to be more of a drain on the town resources rather than a catalyst for economic growth. The Leegate property is located at the SW corner of Battlefield and Rt 7. This community will have over 400 dwellings, and no one can argue that the future residents will be walking into downtown Leesburg to support the local businesses.
Personally, I feel that mixed use residential / commercial developments are the appropriate way to allow growth along the Rt 7 corridor. The Villages of Leesburg is a great example of how this can work. In this case the developer committed to building the overpass at River Creek Parkway as well as the commercial space before most of the residential units. The Leegate developers did not make that same commitment and the Town Council unfortunately did not press the issue before approving the re-zoning application.
The Woodlea Manor HOA and Access to the Tennis Courts
The Woodlea Manor HOA continues to be a strong asset for the community with yearly fees that are relatively low compared to many other neighborhoods in Loudoun. The budget appears to be fiscally sound and the delinquency rate is close to zero which is quite unusual for neighborhoods our size.
I realize there are those in the neighborhood that don’t agree with raising homeowner fees to support the community appearance and amenities. For $780 there is NOTHING that you could do to your home that would support your property value more efficiently. Conversely, the consequences of not spending far outweigh the marginal costs.
A major HOA expense this year was for the resurfacing of the tennis courts. As a kid, I remember playing street hockey on the neighborhood tennis courts. Unfortunately, given the cost of the resurfacing, the tennis courts need to be reserved for tennis only. The community is having a hard time enforcing this use. The Woodlea Manor Board is working to allow homeowners access to the tennis courts while preventing non-approved uses.
The Woodlea Manor Real Estate Market
2016 was a big year for the real estate market in Woodlea. There were 34 homes sold during the year which far outpaces the typical volume of 20 settled sales. Although there were definitely lulls in the market, for those that went on the market at the right time, their homes sold at an average price that was 4.2% higher than last year, with an average Days on Market of 49 days.
In my opinion, interest rates will continue to be the biggest question mark surrounding future appreciation in the neighborhood. And it’s a question of “when” not “if” the interest rates will rise. We have become accustomed to such incredibly cheap money that it might only take rates to reach 5% before purchasing decisions are altered.
If you have read any of my past letters or spoken to me about the market, you know that Woodlea Manor is still my favorite neighborhood in Northern Virginia at its price range. Yet I feel that it’s important to discuss the less positive news when it’s appropriate. Our market doesn’t always favor the seller and there are many times that I freely advise against selling. But there are some situations where my advice is to act sooner rather than later. If you are looking to make one final move up to a larger home or possibly your final move is to downsize, then I would recommend taking a hard look at that decision now.
As always, don’t hesitate to give me a call if you have any questions. My advice is always free!