Stonehill Announces Plan for Foxfire
Florida-based Stonehill Capital Group publicly announced plans to develop 1,500 acres near Foxfire Village into a master-planned resort community Tuesday during the Village Council's meeting.
Stonehill purchased the property in March for $19.7 million. The development could have as many as 1,000 homes once it is completed.
Stonehill President and CEO Kevin M. Justice told the council and members of the audience that he could not release any specific details on the development at the meeting, but sources close to the project say it will include two Jack Nicklaus-designed signature golf courses and a Ritz-Carlton hotel complete with a spa and conference center.
The property is located between Hoffman and Foxfire Roads and extends to Diamond Drive and Chicken Plant Road. Part of the property lies within Foxfire's extraterritorial jurisdiction while the rest is under Moore County's zoning jurisdiction.
Justice said during the meeting that, through the development, he wants to continue to enhance the tradition of Foxfire community and Moore County.
"Foxfire is a beautiful place to live," he said. "We're thrilled to be working with such a beautiful piece of property. Our goal is to be a great neighbor to Foxfire and Moore County, as well as a steward of the pristine, natural appeal of the land."
Stonehill Capital Group is a real estate development firm specializing in large-scale mixed-use development projects.
The development will be a village concept. Besides the golf courses, it will feature two driving ranges -- a public range and a private one for club members and residents -- a golf shop, a club for guests and an amenities center.
Foxfire Mayor George Erickson announced that Stonehill had filed for Planned Unit Development and submitted a petition for annexation into the village. He also reviewed a timeline of the events leading up to the announcement.
Stonehill first met with the Village Council in June 2007 to discuss its interest in acquiring the property. In April 2008, an agreement was reached for Moore County to provide water to the new development. That line would be available to serve Foxfire when the need arises.
In September, the village updated and approved its Planned Unit Development (PUD) ordinance.
Earlier this month, the county applied for a $650,000 grant from the N.C. Rural Center to extend water service to the development.
First Step in Process
Erickson told members of the audience that Tuesday was not the time to question Stonehill about its plans. The village's Planning and Zoning Board will review Stonehill's applications over coming weeks and will make a recommendation to the council.
It will be in those meetings, which are open to the public, that the specifics of the development would be discussed. He said the public will have plenty of opportunities to offer feedback at that time.
Erickson said in a telephone interview with The Pilot on Wednesday that he was happy with the turnout by the residents. Council meetings are normally held at Village Hall and about 10 to 15 residents attend. But this meeting was moved to Foxfire Country Club to accommodate the large crowd of about 100.
"We thought it went fine," he said. "The residents, I felt, understood that this is the first step in a long process."
The new development will nearly double the acreage of the existing village, so Erickson is pleased that Stonehill is committed to retaining the small-town feel that attracted him and his wife to Foxfire 16 years ago. He said that he understands that the community will have to grow in the future to build its tax base so infrastructure needs can be addressed.
"What we hope to do through our PUD ordinance is to help our planned growth go as well as possible," he said.
He said that he hadn't heard any direct concerns from the residents about the growth, but said at least three parties had come to village hall to examine a map of the property since Tuesday's meeting.
'Pretty Good Plan'
Justice and Rick Robinson, executive vice president and COO of Stonehill, discussed the development in an interview with The Pilot. They said that this particular development has been the priority and focus of the company and it spent two years scouting out the right location, which they found near Foxfire.
"We love Moore County and this whole area," Justice said. "It's probably one of the best places to live in the country."
The community will be developed over a 10- to 15-year period, with about 100 homes being built per year. Robinson said 1,000 to 1,050 homes would be the maximum number built, and that was contingent on coordination with Foxfire.
When asked if adding another development in an area with so many golf course communities is financially feasible, Justice said that it would fit in with the golf tradition that defines Moore County.
"If you want to live in an area rich in golf, you can't have enough of it," he said, adding that he feels that the development will fulfill a market need.
Justice said he hasn't heard any feedback from Pinehurst Resort or any of the area country clubs but said he hoped his development would be a "welcome addition that would compliment them."
Justice said he was confident that the rough economic climate in the country wouldn't deter the project, saying that North Carolina has fared well compared to the rest of the country. He said he hopes that the market will sort itself out.
"This is a vibrant economic area," he said. "When the rest of the world is going left, we want to go right. We believe there is a longing for this type of product. We believe we can build a product that the market will expect."
Rumors had been circulating that the project would be fully developed in time for the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort, but Justice said that was not an initial driver. He said the market will dictate demand and stressed the importance of working with the village and hearing public input.
"We want to work with the town," he said. "We think we have a pretty good plan. By working through the process, hopefully we get something everyone can agree on."
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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