Carpers Valley land sale is set for today

Posted: December 10, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — A 107-acre parcel of land plus an additional 14-acre tract — part of the old Carpers Valley Golf Club on Millwood Pike — are due to be sold on the steps of the Joint Judicial Center at 10:30 a.m. today.

The sale could be postponed if it snows.

The land is owned by Carpers Valley Development LLC and was being developed by Miller and Smith of Winchester for commercial use.

The company is retaining another 64.4 acres — just east of this tract, called Governors Hill — that it purchased in 2006 from Richard Dick for $4.3 million for residential development. That property’s master plan allows for 550 dwellings, and 50 percent of those can be multi-family.

A general master plan for all the properties was approved by Frederick County in 2005 and reconfigured in 2006.

“We love the property,” said John Conrad, vice president of Miller and Smith. But, he said, “The market hasn’t allowed us to develop it.”

Or continue to pay on $6.6 million in outstanding debt.

When Miller and Smith bought the property for an unknown amount in 2005 under the Carpers Valley Development LLC name, it thought the FBI was considering locating a new facility there.

That hasn’t happened, Conrad pointed out.

With the current state of the real estate market, there is no reason to believe there is a need right now for industrial or commercial property, or more retail space in the area, he said.

Conrad said the rezoning stays with the land, so the purchaser will be able to develop it, but “all the proffers stay with the property,” he added.

That includes construction of several new roads.

Conrad said Miller and Smith have already done work on the property.

As part of its proffers, the company gave Frederick County 12 acres to build a new Public Safety Building and constructed a $2 million road to the facility on Coverstone Drive.

And, he said, the National Guard was given five acres on Pendleton Drive for its new Readiness Center. Miller and Smith spent almost $1 million to construct an access road to that facility.

Miller and Smith also traded Winchester Regional Airport 14 acres of land for a small section of property needed for a road and some wetlands.

“We’ve done a lot,” said Conrad, but added that none of the investment in infrastructure was “income-producing” for Miller and Smith.

Conrad had predicted 2013 would bring a turnaround for the construction industry, but with the sequester, which cut the federal budget at the beginning of the year and the federal government shutdown in October, “People have no confidence in the system,” he said.

And, he added, the country is looking at the possibility of the same thing happening again.

“Do you want to get a 30-year mortgage if you’re not going to be employed in two years?” he asked.

Miller and Smith has also sold a number of lots it owned at Lake Holiday in Frederick County, Conrad said.

And it won’t be moving to develop the White Farm property it owns on Merrimans Lane, which is split between Winchester and Frederick County.

“We’re mothballing that one until the market comes around,” he said.

— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com