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Williamsburg Va Real Estate Growth Update

From an article in the Va Gazette

What will the rolling landscape of James City County Virginia’s Stonehouse District look like with three times the number of today’s homes? Hard to imagine.One of the side effects of the new rooftops may also be increased activism. Today most of the slowgrowth lobby is concentrated in Powhatan and Jamestown districts. “Because the growth has been focused in those areas, there have been a lot more issues around which galvanize people,” Krapf said. “As the growth demand turns to the upper county, you’ll probably see a lot more activity on the part of those groups served by public water. Much of the upper county relies on wells for drinking water. “It’s far too early to talk about expanding the [Primary Service Area} at this point,”  Stonehouse supervisor Jim Kennedy said. “We need to be looking at new technologies and water supply, such as reclaimed water systems,” 

Last year the James City County’s Real Estate Assessments Division assessed 4,825 parcels in Stonehouse, the westernmost of five magisterial districts.

More than 5,000 new housing units are approved and under way, according to a James City County Citizens’ report on cumulative growth.

Beyond that, another 5,500 are approved but not yet started. New housing of that magnitude seems far-fetched in the middle of a real estate slump, but Stonehouse remains a hot market for $200,000 homes . The population of the county could drastically shift within 20 years as Villages at White Hall, Jennings Way, Michelle Point, Stonehouse and Colonial Heritage build out. On the commercial side, Stonehouse is expected to add about 3.8 million square feet of shops, stores and restaurants.

The Stonehouse area of the county is definitely going to get the brunt of the growth.Some serious consideration needs to be given to the road structure that supports it, as well as the water situation. 

Plans for the Stonehouse development once included using reclaimed water, but were abandoned because of cost.

Despite efforts to control growth, there is still plenty of room. A good portion of the Williamsburg Pottery tract is in the district, as is the neighboring Hunt farm property. Both would provide large development opportunities. “It’s not just the Hunt property,” Kennedy added. “There’s also Anderson’s corner.” Planning Commission member Rich Krapf lives in the district and cautions not to overreact. “The buildout schedule could take years to achieve,” he said. “So people forget that that’s been approved. Then the new owners come in and people say, ‘That’s new growth and we don’t want new growth.’Yet it’s a 20-yearold project. That’s where so many citizen groups are raising the flag about cumulative impacts.”

The housing market is a wild card, though. Because of the downturn, Colonial Heritage construction has slowed to a trickle and developers throughout the county are not meeting building projections.

Typically, each phase in a development depends on the success of the previous phases. In a flagging market, growth stalls and plans change. “The whole county has time to breathe,” Kennedy said. “Certainly this Comprehensive Plan is critical.” 

Kennedy said that Stonehouse and its development are different from the other districts. “More people in this district are property rights people than in other areas in the county, because they are large property owners.

They don’t want to see the commercialization of the Stonehouse district either, but they certainly want to protect their interests. We’re ‘a little bit country’ out here, and we like it that way, for the most part.” “Even with the growth likely to occur, we’d still like to see the rural character retained out there,” Kadec said of J4C. “It may not be possible, but it sure would be nice.” Kadec believes the county can balance the rooftops by encouraging equine-related businesses, agri-tourism, and other industries that make preservation profitable. The same sentiment was mentioned frequently by residents recently in Comprehensive Plan meetings in the upper county. “