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Developer has proposal for land near Eskimo Hill

February 29, 2012 12:10 am


D.R. Horton Inc. is the latest homebuilder betting on a rebound for Stafford County's housing market.

The company is asking the county to rezone about 141 acres it owns just south of the intersection of U.S. 1 and Eskimo Hill Road for a mixed-use development called Clift Farm Quarter.

A public hearing is scheduled March 6 before the Stafford Board of Supervisors. The county's Planning Commission has recommended approval.

The development, named for an 18th-century farm owned by the Clift family, would include up to 585 homes and 206,500 square feet of commercial space.

D.R. Horton is offering to donate 262 adjacent acres to the county in exchange for the rezoning from Agricultural to Planned Traditional Neighborhood Development (P-TND), and to build up to 15 athletic fields with parking and amenities for public use on that land. The company would also build a 500-space commuter parking lot or donate $750,000 to the county to add spaces at the nearby Brooke VRE station. D.R. Horton would also make improvements to Eskimo Hill Road, and at key nearby intersections along U.S. 1.

If the rezoning is approved, it would be just the second Stafford development with a P-TND classification. The other is The Town Center at Aquia, whose progress has slowed amid the economic downturn. Clift Farm Quarter would be within the Eskimo Hill Urban Development Area that Stafford's supervisors established in 2010.

D.R. Horton would start the development soon after getting the rezoning, said Clark Leming, an attorney who is shepherding the application through the public process. The company would likely do the site work for the commercial part before selling it to another developer, and handle the residential component itself.

Leming said the project is a sign that the local homebuilding market is improving. There is now just a four-month supply of homes actively listed for sale in Stafford. Homebuilders and residential developers including Augustine Homes, Ryan Homes, K. Hovnanian Homes and Newland Real Estate Group have all made major housing investments in the county of late.

A rezoning application for the Clift Farm development was submitted several years ago but ultimately withdrawn due to weakness in the housing market. That plan called for three times the number of homes.

Even though the latest version calls for just 585 homes, Leming said, it is cost-effective for the developer because of the clustered nature. That means less money goes into site work.

Plans call for the commercial space, likely three-story office buildings with ground-level retail, to be alongside and to the east of U.S. 1 at the front of the development. A new road called Clift Drive would be built running through the neighborhood and connecting U.S. 1 with Eskimo Hill Road. The main entrance would be at a signalized intersection at U.S. 1 and Clift Drive.

The residential component--which calls for about 326 single-family homes, 143 townhouses and 116 condos--would be east of the commercial section. Plans call for walking trails, a dog park, a day care facility and a community center with a pool and fitness area.

The entrance to the new sports field complex would be on the east side of Eskimo Hill Road at the intersection of Clift Drive. There would also be a secondary entrance into Clift Farm Quarter there. Leming said there would be space on the 262 acres for as many as 50 fields, a new animal control facility and the commuter parking lot. D.R. Horton would also donate land for a future Dominion Virginia Power electrical substation.

The developer calculates that all of its land donations and public improvement projects are worth $23 million to the county, which it says is in excess of cash proffer guidelines. It envisions about 1,689 people, including 342 children, living at Clift Farm Quarter.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405

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