Davidson project rescued
by Staff Writer
by Frank DeLoache
DAVIDSON – Workers have already cut away the obscuring forest of 4-foot weeds, and if they can look closely, Davidson residents can see reconstructive surgery beginning on a long-open wound at the town’s southern gateway.
A group of largely Davidson investors, led by River Run resident Brad Bowman, has purchased the foreclosed Village at South Main development and is completing the 12 units overlooking a creek just east of Main Street, behind the Wooden Stone Gallery. Davidson Village Investments LLC ultimately plans to see the 3-acre, stillborn development completely built out.
The first 12 units have sat unfinished and abandoned for at least a year, but the new ownership group already has contractors finishing all the units. The new owners will open a model unit to the public Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 27 and 28, at noon both days.
Because the group bought the distressed property at a considerable discount from CommunityOne Bank, Bowman said the three-story homes, each with a drive-under garage, will start at less than $200,000, at least a third less than the original unit price. The investors also bought the loan with cash, Bowman said, so they can assure any buyers that no bank is breathing down the new owners’ necks, threatening to call in a loan.
The developers hope to appeal to young singles, couples and families, who enjoy living within walking distance of downtown Davidson. “It appears the market is getting stronger,” Bowman said. “There are more buyers out there, and with 30-year interest rates at 4 percent, people would be crazy not to by now.”
When Corinthian Developers began construction in 2007, the real estate market was still exploding, and builder envisioned 39 townhomes. But by the time the first townhomes were completed, the economic meltdown was well under way, Bowman said, and the “elegant and expensive finishes” in the three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath townhomes paled in the face of the $300,000-plus price tag.
As with many other communities in 2008 and 2009, the developers could not sell, and the project stalled completely, without a single unit sold, Bowman said.
“After many attempts to contact the lender, CommunityOne Bank finally agreed to sell the asset,” Bowman said in a news release. Davidson Village Investments bought the loan on Aug. 5, and a foreclosure sale was held Aug. 9. With no bidders, Davidson Village Investments acquired the property.
Davidson Mayor John Woods met with Bowman as he was putting the purchase together. “I am pleased to have facilitated Mr. Bowman’s discussion with town planning officials to understand his rights regarding potential plan changes, and we are very supportive of his efforts,” Woods said in an email. “The new owners can develop a product at a price point that will be very acceptable in Davidson.
“The economy has so negatively affected all real estate developments. Failed, incompleted development projects are blight to any community, and we are delighted with the news that this investor group has purchased the Villages at South Main project. Besides the necessary financial strength, they have the real estate savvy and experience to make this project successful, not only from the financial side but also to complement the town of Davidson.”
Just a couple of weeks before Davidson Investments closed the sale, local builder Rodney Graham had complained at a town board meeting about Corinthian and CommunityOne letting weeds grow 3 and 4 feet high, leaving cans of paint sitting on townhome front porches and letting unfinished 2-by-4 beams jut from the rear of units for two or more years.
Graham is developing Davidson Springs, adjacent to the Village at South Main, and he’s encouraged to see the new owners already have work crews finishing the existing 12 units. Graham walked over to meet Bowman at the townhome units not long after the town board meeting and wished him the best in resurrecting the community.
Bowman said he has been a involved with real estate investments and development for more than 30 years and holds the Certified Commercial and Investment Member designation, which he said real estate professionals earn after completing a “rigorous study program” and demonstrating “proficiency in commercial/investment real estate and finance.”
Bowman also leads First Federal Properties Inc., a real estate brokerage, development and investment company based in Cornelius, and until the current economic turmoil, he chose projects outside the Lake Norman area.
Though he and his business partners obviously expect to make money on Village at South Main, members of the group also saw the opportunity to try to help the town fix an obvious problem.
“We are honored to be involved in the transformation of this eyesore,” Bowman said. “As a Davidson resident, I am especially pleased to see it being revived.”
“… It is a shame to see communities such as this fall into disrepair. … Now comes the hard part: cleanup and repositioning.”
As a real estate professional and father of two children – one in college and one just getting out – he advises young people with good jobs, good credit and a reasonable down payment to invest in homes now. Prices and mortgage rates will not drop this low for many years to come, he said, and contrary to many news reports, young people can get bank financing with a 10-percent down payment and Federal Housing Administration financing with a down payment of 5 to 7 percent.
“This is what I am telling my children,” he said. “To find an a distressed development like this, that a builder has rescued at a lower price, and invest in it now. You won’t ever get the same chance in our lifetime.”
Town board’s next community chat
The Davidson Board of Commissioners will hold its next “community chat” Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 6 p.m. at the Community School of Davidson’s high school building, 404 Armour St., also known as the Liburdi building.
Town board members began holding the quarterly meetings in places outside town hall about a year ago. The meetings are open to all residents, who can ask commissioners and Mayor John Woods about any topic on their minds.
Commissioner Connie Wessner is an administrator at the school and arranged the meeting place. Wessner attended Tuesday night’s town work session by phone from Washington, D.C., and she told commissioners that she was riding in an elevator an earthquake shook the nation’s capital and much of the East Coast earlier in the day.
[gallery link="file" order="DESC" columns="2"]