August 11, 2009
Two years after the progressive Belvedere neighborhood broke ground in Albemarle County, residents say they are living through the project's ups and downs.
White and her family were the first to not only buy a Belvedere home, but buy into the idea of healthier living. Belvedere is a development aimed at merging community with nature, and it has been a little more than a year since White first moved in.
"I wanted streets, I wanted sidewalks, I wanted to be able to walk to things and mostly I wanted a connection to other people," said White.
But in the past year, a financial crisis coupled with a housing market slump, threatened what White and developer Bob Hauser dreamed would be a community oriented environmental development.
"When it was just our house and a few other houses and you're wondering is it going to really happen," said White.
"Thirty-two years in the industry, and last year by far the worst year of my life in business," said Bob Hauser, of Stonehaus Residential.
Hauser added that the economic downturn made it almost impossible to operate, putting several projects like landscaping behind. However, development was just part of the problem for White, who said she grew tired of seeing what she considered reports of Belvedere's near demise.
"They want to find some way that Belvedere is going to fail," said White.
But Hauser says the real estate market has started to pick up and as a result, so has construction at Belvedere.
"Now we're on pace to start closing about one a week," said Hauser.
"We have 12 families living here and I think we have four or five more on the way," said White.
However, Belvedere is not out of the woods yet. Hauser adds that there have been financial challenges they are continuing to meet. He says he is confident the 700-home project will come to fruition on time and will fulfill the promises made to homeowners like White.
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