Friday, March 20, 2009

Edible Garden at the White House. . . and this house.

And maybe your house, too? There is a permaculture movement afoot. Even the President of the United States is doing it, with a good garden at the White House. Bret and I watched 60 Minutes the other night when Alice Waters, the First Lady of Slow Food said she had been pressuring presidents for decades to plant a garden for fresh food at the White House. And now Lady Obama is doing just that, and involving local elementary school students. Hzzah!

Our garden is starting up this weekend with lettuces and peas, and we are creating beds for tomotoes, herbs, and berries. There will be additional beds for more vegetables as the time gets right.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Rivanna Trail Hike in Belvedere


This link will take you to a short slide show about the new Rivanna trail in Belvedere. Thank you, Dan Mahon and Albemarle county for providing this fabulous resource for us!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Answers and Requests

Hello Good People!

How nice to have so many questions about Belvedere. Here are few answers:

  • Bob's answer to the question What Do I Really Want? was that he wanted to work on Belvedere. He wants to complete his vision to the best of his ability. At least that is what I understood. He explained he was selling some of his 65 LLCs and merging others, and creating Stonehaus Residential that will build energy efficient high quality homes. That is what I understood and I could be wrong.
  • The Village Green is slated to be altered. We are still in discussion about how things will unroll on the green, with movies and music and events, but the ampitheatre needs to be lower or not at all in accordance with the plans submitted to the county. We are all waiting for more landscaping, and I saw Bob and his crew out there planning last week. Stay tuned.
And here is a request from me:

  • If you want to be included in meetings and updates, then send me your email address. Identify yourself, don't just post under Anonymous. My email is Or, if you want to be bold, become a member of the Belvedere Neighborhood Group on Facebook.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

When The Going Gets Tough

When the going gets tough, the tough get introspective, creative, committed, and constructive. Sometimes, I feel like people are waiting for Belvedere to fail, so people, read on.

With rumors swirling and the economy in a decline, Belvedere builders decided to become more transparent and also, reorganize. Yesterday, Bob Hauser gave a long and passionate talk to Belvedere residents about his state of affairs, and also, Stonehaus unveiled a new line of homes in Belvedere called City Homes. These homes are smaller single-family homes that are Earthcraft, with one model being single story living. All homes have a garage option. The lots are smaller since the homes orginally planned for these sites were duplexes. Square footage ranges from 1200-1800 square feet with 2 and 3 bedrooms. Prices range from $274,000 to $304,000. There is a new construction entity that is behind these homes called Stonehaus Residential that is committed to quality, efficient, small homes. They are only offering 16 of these City Homes. If you are interested in buying of these small homes, you had better contact Stonehaus quickly because they sold 2 homes before they unveiled the new line. Currently, there are 4 other lots that are being considered by buyers. I wish I had extra money. I want one of these homes, too. Contact Lindsay Comment at 434-981-4054 or Jay Kalagher at 434-962-4613.

I also want to mention that Hauser Homes just finished a beautiful new home on the Boulevard and sold three other homes in Phase 1. In addition, Eagle Construction just closed on a new home for which construction will begin soon. So March will be a busy month in Belvedere with 3 - 5 new home construction projects starting. How about that!

I learned a lot yesterday listening to Bob speak about his life and his decisions. Here are few things to say up front:
  • Hauser Homes is not bankrupt. Bob is very solvent, he says, just not very liquid.
  • The credit crunch and financial meltdown very much affected Bob's business. I was not aware of the $500 million run on Wachovia in one day. Bret later told me that it was an electronically triggered run that almost caused a collapse of some of the financial system. They had to close down something to prevent that. Shades of Its a Wonderful Life.
  • The housing sector is calling this past winter the Nuclear Winter. Bob has been in business since the 1970's. He made it clear these last 5 months have been the worst he has seen, and still, Belvedere got tons of traffic. One realtor reported that in the last 4 months, approximately 180 people took the time to register with Belvedere agents to be told about new developments. That does not include the hundreds that did not.
  • The Vision of Belvedere is not negotiable. This vision includes the Earthcraft homes, New Urban design, connection to nature, town center.
  • The City Homes will be built in that one section of Phase One only.
  • There is money in escrow to finish Phase One completely.
In his talk with us, Bob clearly wants to take responsibility and also, do something to help turn things around. He talked candidly about how his business started, grew and is now reorganizing. He would like to retire Hauser Homes and have Stonehaus Residential eventually take over building in Belvedere. Many of the timelines the developers talked about were 18 and 24 months down the road.

It is not often anyone opens up their life and tells you about their. Bob explained that the economic downturn allowed him to pause and ask the question, What do I really want? Quite often we don't ask ourselved this question enough. More often, we don't even question or look at our life in a deep way. We just keep going along until we are forced to make a change or a decision.

One of my teachers, Tony Ten Fingers, once told me a story like this one. He asked one of his friends who had stage IV ovarian cancer what she really wanted. She said she wanted to get married and find true love. The next day he proposed. She accepted. He said, okay, one down, and we are going to have work at true love. This question, what do I really want? has stayed with me since then. Mostly, I have always done what I really wanted and taken the risks that come with that. That is how I learned to follow my dreams but lower my expectations. I always did what I wanted, but things often didn't pan out the way I had dreamed or thought they would. Becoming a pioneer in Belvedere and working hard to make the vision a reality was certainly one of those moments that I have gone for what I really wanted. I say to myself, this is what I am doing for now. I will try my best to make my dreams come true, and because they have in the past, I probably will come close now. If I keep my expectations high, I just might get hurt so I keep my expectations in the middle range. Just now, my life is exceeding my expectations.

Two other things:
  • The Rivanna Trail proposed for this section of land along in river in Belvedere is nearly complete. I ran it the other day and it is really a treasure. I especially enjoyed the section near the railroad tracks.
  • The organic farm is scheduled to go in this spring, and their first crop might be available fall 2009.
These are the updates. Belvedere still keeps growing.