Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Belvedere Newsletter, the Latest News Feb '12

From Kendra Dunn of Stonehaus

2012 Greetings to all our Belvedere residents and a heart-felt “Welcome” to our newest home-owners.

We appreciate that you have chosen to live in Charlottesville-Albemarle’s leading “green” neighborhood and anticipate exciting growth for Belvedere in 2012. In a slowly recovering real estate market, Belvedere Neighborhood finished 2011 with 42 new home sales, nearly doubling 2010’s 24 new home sales. Phase 1 is quickly approaching “Sold Out” status with less than 12 lots remaining unsold. Last year’s Blue Ridge Home Builders Association Parade of Homes event was another great success for Belvedere. With two (2) homes entered in the 2011 Parade, Belvedere saw well over 100 visitors each of the two parade weekends and, like 2010’s Parade, may of those visitors are active, interested home-buyers who have Belvedere at the top of their home-buying wish list. Belvedere currently has ten (10) homes under contract that are either under construction or expected to start shortly. The eleven (11) townhomes along the east side of the Village Green are all under contract and serve as an enticing visual “gateway” to Phase 2 of Belvedere. As we launch into 2012, there is much to be excited about throughout Belvedere. Here are some of the highlights:

Phase 1 completion

As you’ve seen by now, Belvedere road patches and fixes are well underway and final paving of our main boulevard has begun. Belvedere Phase 1 final paving is a large project which should be completed before mid-year. In addition, final execution of the approved landscape plan and the conversion of some of the current storm water management areas to bio-filters should also be complete by mid-year.

We continue installation of the mailbox “gangboxes” and expect installation of all Phase 1 mailboxes to be complete this spring.

Senior Center and “The Reserve at Belvedere”

The Senior Center remains under-contract with a projected closing of late February. We have no doubt that the Senior Center will bring exciting new vibrancy to Belvedere and be a resource for diverse projects and activities for many, many years.

The Reserve at Belvedere has shown tremendous construction progress, particularly during the past 90 days and it is expected that the first renters will be moving in before Summer.

Belvedere Station

Our upcoming village center, Belvedere Station, has generated significant interest from local businesses and we have to-date completed dozens of presentations for prospective clients on our overall vision for this all-important section of Belvedere. Many thanks to those of you who were able to join us on a rather windy November day for the groundbreaking ceremony. We share your anticipation for this important “center” to the neighborhood and assure you that our priorities are to secure the types of businesses that will create energy, vitality and more great ways to “connect” with your neighbors and friends. While the townhome portion will begin construction this spring with expected home closings in the 4th quarter, we also expect to begin construction on the commercial and retail portions mid-year with businesses “open” by mid 2013.

Civic Core

We expect 2012 to be an active time for the Civic Core. SOCA will soon have their section conveyed to them and their fundraising will then begin in earnest. They are eager to make Belvedere their home and, when they do, will add tremendous vitality. The middle portion of the Civic Core, adjacent to the future SOCA field house, is currently planned to be a park/playground to include an outdoor pavilion structure. We believe we’ll be successful in creating that valuable space as part of our efforts with Phase 2 of Belvedere. On the west side of the Civic Core between our property and the railroad, we have plans to create the Community Gardens for Belvedere. We are waiting on Dominion Power to move an overhead power line and then we’ll move forward, hopefully in time for the spring “planting season”. Lastly, we remain committed to inclusion of a Montessori school in the Civic Core.

Village Green

We have begun work with Albemarle County on a mutually agreeable approach to the final design of the Village Green and it is our hope that the northern end will remain a natural playground. Overall, the Village Green is a vital “center” to Belvedere that will generate many enriching outdoor experiences.

Belvedere Phase 2

Our current design plan for Phase 2 has been resubmitted to the County. While our overall Phase 2 plan includes over 120 lots, our first section will be comprised of approximately 50 lots on the west side of Belvedere Blvd. The current Phase 2 plan will be available for review at our model home at 724 Belvedere Blvd after next week. Feel free to stop by for a look.


We continue our efforts to collaborate with Fairview pool on broad improvements to their facility. At this time, we have proposed a few opportunities for improvement and await a response. We will keep you updated as that work progresses.

Rio Road traffic light

Lastly, installation of a traffic light at the Rio Road entrance to Belvedere is of great interest to all of us. We believe VDOT has begun a traffic study and are hopeful they will see the need as we know many of you do. Your active help will continue to make a difference so please call or email Albemarle County’s Board of Supervisors (Rodney Thomas) about the need for a traffic light. Representatives from Cathcart and Stonehaus have made their wishes clear to the County and VDOT but we believe that as constituents, you will have a more powerful voice to affect this change. Contact information is: Rodney Thomas 434-242-3322 or rthomas@albemarle.org - Additional information can be found on the County’s website - http://www.albemarle.org/department.asp?department=bos&relpage=3406

Our continued thanks and appreciation to you, our Belvedere residents, who act as our best “sales people” and passionate supporters of this great neighborhood. So much of our continued success is a result of your commitment and enthusiastic support!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When Dreams Come True

This Saturday, The Living Earth School is beginning the Red Arrow Boys Program in Belvedere. Nature awareness educators Hub Knott, Joshua Levine and Taylor, all the most awesome men ever, are bringing together boys from all over for a day of earth skills, followed by an overnight in November and more skills in December. It is a once a month program. Hub also wants to offer his homeschool program once a week in Belvedere.

We are also offering a Wild Food Talk and Walk in Belvedere on Sunday with the most awesome woman, Rain, from Shannon Farm. Getting folks outside connecting with nature and each other in Belvedere.

These nature awareness offerings are a dream come true. Really, all of Belvedere is a dream come true, a neighborhood of people really wanting to connect with each other and the more-than-human world. As with all dreams, I temper my expectations. I learned long ago that dreams can manifest and not be exactly what you expect. In some ways, Belvedere is more urban than I expected. I miss the forest being all around me, but that is just me. I can always go down into the forest around Belvedere and Dunlora and I do, quite often.

I am going to encourage these nature pieces to grow. I know Bob Hauser is encouraging them. It was his vision to get the kids off the couch to recreate the childhoods of decades ago when kids played outside. We're doing it in Belvedere!

Wild Food Talk and Walk in Belvedere

Wild Food Talk & Walk

Learn what you can harvest and eat right in your own backyard!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Belvedere Neighborhood

2 pm – 5 pm

$15 per adult, $5 per child if with adult

To Register and Directions:


katercst@gmail.com 434-996-2002 preregistration required

Gathering from the wild is a traditional skills practiced by people all around the world. This is an abundance of nutritious edibles all around us. This three-hour class will take us on a wander to rediscover and collect these foods. Get to know your place! Have Fun with other families! Connect with self, others, nature! Come on out and meet and inspiring leader, Rain, class instructor.

For the past 14 years, Rain has been weaving traditional lifeways. She currently lives in the Blue Ridge on an intentional community with her man and their six children where she has been re-claiming her Wild-Wombyn Self while Re-Membering the Ancient Skills of Wombyn-hood. Her current threads are hunting, gathering, midwifery, plant medicine, wild foods and tribal culture.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Community Updates: Annual HOA meeting

Belvedere is doing awesome! We now have 70 homes sold, with more under contract, several spec homes being built and only 15 spots left in Phase One! Our annual HOA meeting was just a few days ago and we are still thinking over all the information. The community voted a member onto the Board (a big deal, since we often have issues that need addressing and did not have any Board presence until now per the HOA agreement). The meeting was full of excellent and interesting news.

The big downer is the money situation. Banks are picky and strange about lending money as those out there in the development world know. Phase One still has unfinished business that Bob Hauser says he has a hard time finding money for, but the commercial part of Belvedere, the Station as it is being called, is a positive for lending meaning that ground is going to be broken there starting this fall. However, the county is finishing parts of Phase One because of bank note issues between the developer and the county. I can't quote everything because it seems quite technical but it seems that this is rare in the development world. Hauser said he wished he could finish it. It does sound like a strange world for developers these days. But Belvedere remains one of the most successful new developments in the county. Hard to believe we have sold so many houses since November 2010; we have nearly doubled in size and Hauser hopes to close on up to 44 more houses this year.

A wonderful new addition to the project is the Senior Center now slotted for the first commercial land lot as you enter the development. This multi-generational space looks awesome. A representative from the Senior Center came and gave us a slide show about the new facility. They are busting at the seems over in their current facility on Pepsi Place. It looks fantastic and open to the public. I couldn't imagine a better place to hang out if I was over 50! Exercise, social events, clubs, cafes, cookouts, classes of all kinds. It is a great addition to the project.

Now that we have so many people, we know that the HOA has lots of money and we want to know where it is going and what we are doing with it. Community members picked apart the budget. Much of the money is spent on Connexion and landscaping. Community members want the vacant lots better taken care of and more accountability and transparency from a busy skeleton Stonehaus crew. And rightly so!

Excited to be a member still and trying to breath life into the "get the kids off the couch" idea, Hub Knott from the Living Earth School is going to run a boys program here, and a homeschool nature based program. I invited the most awesome Rain from Shannon Farm to do a Wild Foods Talk and Walk October 2 here in Belvedere from 2 - 5 pm. You can see more on my website, belvederearts.com. Hauser is also supporting the community garden idea.

With the county soon finishing the paving, tree planting and other promised list items and the fuller complement of houses it feels like are beyond the tipping point into success. And more, Hauser reports our homes are increasing in value! All this is such good news during these times, as well as the mini baby boom here in Belvedere. I think we have at least 5 babies born or due this fall and winter. That means lots of meals made and taken over to families. I volunteer to hold the babies!

I often meet new people who say this blog really helped them learn more about Belvedere, so Bret and I will continue to write and post. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Got mud? Got tracks!

Had a great time in the back of the neighborhood Saturday - joined a class in animal tracks taught by Hub Knott of the Living Earth School. He was appreciative of the great tracking places we have here.

So inspired, I have been going out more often and here are some things I have seen:

This one was actually found by Kate as we went for an evening walk. It's a first for us:

We guessed turtle, and are pretty sure after we consulted our tracking resources. I can reallypicture a turtle's feet in these tracks, especially the back ones as they claw in semi-sideways.

Out back is a place where the dirt from excavations is put - this has many smooth sections that make for perfect tracks, especially after a rain. Here's what I saw there recently:

This was great because it so clearly shows the distinctive "chevron" found in Red Fox tracks. Hair is also clearly visible.

And nearby:

Sure looks like opossum to me - because of the way the thumb points almost behind.

Kate and I hope top start an informal tracking walk once or twice a month because it's always fun with other people.

Sesame Street

The other day the weather was nice and children and their parents were on the playground, on the sidewalks, and in the alleys, laughing, chatting and generally having fun.

I felt a familiar feeling and searched for what it was and realized that this neighborhood, on these days, reminds me of Sesame Street. And for me, that's a good feeling.