Site plan showing the proposed 1,300-acre Blake Farm project. The red area shows planned commercial space, and the yellow shows residential areas. (Contributed image)
A large-scale master-planned development is slated for the U.S. Highway 17 corridor in eastern Pender County.
Raiford Trask III, president of Wilmington-based Trask Land Co., said Monday that his team is working with Pender County officials to file plans for a 1,300-acre community near the intersection of U.S. 17 and Sidbury Road, close to the New Hanover County line.
Under the proposal, the development – called Blake Farm – would add 2,200 residential units over the next 10 years to the 28411 zip code – an area currently seeing an increase in new residential and commercial development.
The Blake Farm development team includes Trask Land Co., Raleigh-based JDavis Architects, the Wilmington division of LS3P Associates Ltd., Wilmington-based McKim and Creed, Wilmington-based Southern Environmental Group and Andy Woods & Associates.
The tract for the proposed development belonged to several families in the area, including the Blake family – a longtime Pender County family that operated a farm on much of the site for decades.
Trask Land Co. began acquiring property for the Blake Farm development two years ago.
Officials plan to submit development site plans for the mammoth project sometime during the second quarter of this year.
Pending county approval, Trask Land Co. officials hope to launch construction on the development’s infrastructure during the fourth quarter of this year and start to deliver lots in the third quarter of 2015.
While no builders have been selected for the project, Trask said homes would start in the mid-$300,000 range.
Trask said the project will incorporate the area’s natural beauty while delivering a variety of housing options to an area experiencing rapid growth.
Plans call for the first phase of the project to incorporate 300 apartment units and 200 single-family homes. Trask added the development would also feature a number of nature hike and bike trails, multiple green spaces and a community farm.
“We wanted to create something that fits with the region’s DNA by maximizing the environmental aspects of the property,” Trask said. “We plan to preserve as much as we can.”
All of the future homes and details of the neighborhood are based on the Cape Fear Heritage Architectural guidelines that were created during the development of Autumn Hall, a mixed-use development along Eastwood Road in Wilmington, Trask said.
“I think it’s important to provide value in both location and the house,” Trask said.
To help in those efforts, Trask said his development firm is partnering with the N.C. Coastal Federation to help create nature trails and mitigate wetlands as an amenity to the development. He said federation officials will also help the development team identify native plants and wildlife in the area.
Trask said officials are working with the Onslow County division of Pluris LLC on plans to build a wastewater treatment facility in Blake Farm to accommodate denser development and future growth.
“In my opinion, southern Pender is most desirable for its attainable housing price points. They have the best school system and there is access to I-140,” Trask said. “We’re very much encouraged by the trends of southern Pender and southeastern North Carolina in general.”
Another factor helping to fuel the mixed-use development is the future Hampstead Bypass – a $30 million highway that would stretch roughly from Sloop Point Road to the south, and connect with U.S. 17 at Grandview Drive – that will run directly north of the development. Officials also plan to align the entrance of the development with Scotts Hill Loop Road.
State transportation officials hope to begin acquiring rights-of-way for the roadway this year.
Despite working with N.C. Department of Transportation for two years to gain access to the development via the Hampstead Bypass, Trask said Blake Farm will not receive direct access.
Plans also call for part of Blake Farm to include roughly 50 acres of future commercial development along U.S. 17 and Sidbury Road, Trask said. He said there already is interest from a number of hotel developers, adding that medical offices and gyms would also be well suited for the area.
“South Pender [County] has an under supply of hotel rooms, so we’re talking with a few hotel developers about building in the development,” Trask said.
Chris Blake III, one of three heirs to the Blake Farm estate, said the site is of considerable significance to his family.
Blake said his family, who were friends with the Trasks, began raising cattle and farming corn and peanuts on the site in the mid-1940s. He said he and his two sisters were raised in a pre-Civil War home on the site before they moved into a new home their father, Henry Christopher Blake II, built them a new home away from the estate.
The site is currently used to grow hay, Blake said. The original estate that predated the Civil War was demolished in the mid-1990s.
Blake said he told Trask that, upon selling the family estate, he wanted the project to make a positive impact on the area.
“One of our main things was we wanted this to be something well planned and something the community would be proud of,” Blake said. “Most importantly, we wanted it to be something to honor our father.”
Trask believes his team will hold true to their promise.
“Blake Farm is an exciting project for our development team in many different ways,” Trask said. “This project allows us to partner with like-minded individuals who believe in communities that are in-sync with the environment and fabric of the Scotts Hill Community. We look forward to providing residents with a true southern coastal living experience at Blake Farm.”
Meanwhile, another large-scale development is ramping up construction along the U.S. 17 corridor in Hampstead.
Developers overseeing the future Wyndwater development on the former Topsail Greens Golf Club plan to construct 300-400 homes on roughly two-thirds of the 154-acre golf course, said Mike Pollak, a Wilmington-based developer overseeing the development.
Pollak and longtime Hampstead-based developer David Greer are redeveloping the former 18-hole course.
Officials plan to break ground on the first 92 lots in the master-planned mixed-use development in the coming days.
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