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January 3, 2019

Foothills Housing closes   36-home subdivision deal

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
The property two miles north of Warrenton includes several dozen homes and the former Ben & Mary’s Steakhouse building.
I think it’s gonna be a great asset to the community. We’re gonna spruce it up a little bit and address some deferred maintenance.
— Foothills Housing Corp. President John Wayland
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Fauquier’s largest affordable housing organization recently completed its purchase of a 36-home subdivision north of Warrenton.

The nonprofit Foothills Housing Corp. paid $2.5 million for “Fletcherville,” a 27-acre subdivision on the south side of Route 17, about two miles from town.

More than a year ago, Foothills signed a purchase contract with owner Keith N. Fletcher and began an in-depth study of the property, which includes the vacant building that for decades housed Ben & Mary’s Steakhouse.

Discovery and removal of abandoned fuel tanks under the former restaurant parking lot last fall delayed the closing.

“I think it’s gonna be a great asset to the community,” said Foothills President John Wayland, who helped found the organization’s processor, the Fauquier Housing Corp., in 1970. “We’re gonna spruce it up a little bit and address some deferred maintenance. But, we won’t spend a whole lot of money.”

Most of the homes remain in good shape, Mr. Wayland said.

The organization plans to update leases but will maintain the subdivision for low- and moderate-income residents, Foothills Director John Reid said.

To finance the purchase, Foothills borrowed $2 million from Virginia Community Capital Inc. in Christiansburg. The nonprofit also used its Oaks I apartment complex in Warrenton to secure an additional $1.27-million line of credit from VCC.

The loan proceeds give Foothills “some working capital,” Mr. Wayland said.

Next year, the organization will apply for a $1.25-million grant to upgrade the Fletcherville houses with new windows and HVAC systems, as needed, according to Mr. Reid.

“It’s a big deal for Foothills Housing Corporation to be able to finance this,” he added. “It has come a long way.”

The Fletcherville acquisition continues the organization’s mission “to maintain safe and affordable housing,” said Mr. Reid, who speculated that another buyer might have planned much more expensive homes on the property.

The Fletchers, who also owned a Warrenton shopping plaza that included the bowling alley, built the homes — most of them ramblers — in the 1960s and ’70s. The neighborhood produces a strong cash flow, with an annual profit of about $190,000, according to the real estate listing’s information packet. Monthly rents range from $650 to $1,500, affordable by Fauquier standards.

Foothills soon will decide what to do about wastewater treatment for the subdivision. A half-dozen mass drainfields receive effluent from most of the neighborhood’s 37 septic tanks. Some of the rental homes along Keith Road have their own drainfields.

Warrenton officials two decades ago made sewerage available to protect the municipal water supply from Fletcherville’s “problematic” drainfields, Public Works Director Edward “Bo” Tucker said last year.

It would cost Foothills an estimated $2 million to construct a sewer main to town, a pump station and a neighborhood collection system of underground lines.

But, with a $15,000 PATH Foundation grant, the organization has hired Dominion Soil Science of Goldvein to evaluate options, which include a new mass drainfield or improvements to the existing systems, Mr. Reid said.

Foothills also will consider improvements to the neighborhood street system.

At least one potential restaurant operator has inquired about the former steakhouse building, Mr. Reid said. Foothills will consider leasing or selling that property, he added.

In addition to 111 apartments in Warrenton, the organization has rental homes in The Plains and townhouses in Bealeton. Foothills will manage Fletcherville with its existing staff and rely on established relationships with contractors for maintenance and repairs, Mr. Reid said.

Almost a half-century ago, Foothills got started making improvements to single-family homes that lacked indoor plumbing. Gradually, the organization grew and took on more complex projects, including construction of The Oaks apartments along Oak Springs Drive and work beyond Fauquier.

Contact Lou Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-1845.

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sharlene · January 3, 2019 at 8:37 pm
Great work Foothills! This is so important and I applaud your work through the years. Thank you for being a wonderful asset to our community!
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