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December 6, 2017

New businesses and homes giving Remington a boost

Photo/Google Earth
Pictured here in May, Ryan Homes’ 72-lot Remington Landing subdivision (lower left) probably will sell all of its homes by sometime next year.
Photo/Don Del Rosso
Real estate investor Jim Cheatham, who bought this Main Street building in June, plans a 14-lot subdivision in Remington.
Remington is being discovered by those seeking a small-town atmosphere.
— Real estate investor Jim Cheatham
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Staff Journalist
The real estate investor believes plenty of signs point to a Remington renaissance.

New businesses recently have moved into vacant storefronts, noted Jim Cheatham, who about 13 years ago began buying and rehabilitating commercial and residential properties in the Southern Fauquier town.

By Mr. Cheatham’s count, just two first-floor, Main Street spaces remain empty — one that he owns and expects to fill in about two months with “wellness”-related uses and the other in the old Culpeper Farmers’ Co-op building.

At a steady clip, Ryan Homes continues to build and sell single-family homes in the company’s 72-lot, Rappahannock Landing subdivision at the town’s western edge, he said.

All that activity has increased foot traffic along Main Street, with more to come, Mr. Cheatham said.

On Monday night, the Remington Planning Commission gave preliminary plat approval to Mr. Cheatham’s planned 14-lot subdivision off West Main Street — an easy walk to downtown.

The proposed Remington Woods project ultimately will require town council approval. Finished lots should be ready for construction in the last quarter of 2018, Mr. Cheatham said.

He started purchasing Remington properties, because: “We thought it was a sleepy town with potential. The prices were reasonable.”

Until recently, “downtown Remington has always been fairly vacant after 6 o’clock at night,” explained Mr. Cheatham, who converted a half-million square feet of old Danville factories and warehouses into offices, shops and loft dwellings. “Now, with more apartments, new houses and more people, more businesses are staying open later.

“It’s boots on the ground.”

The town council’s decision to construct a new municipal hall — a $420,000-project — also represents an important practical and aesthetic downtown enhancement, Mr. Cheatham added.

A few factors account for the town’s “revitalization,” said the Bealeton resident, who sold a successful Northern Virginia millwork company before devoting himself full time to “saving historic properties.”

For one, Remington offers “great” value to investors, developers and prospective homeowners, he said.

Mr. Cheatham also believes the town appeals to people who want to escape the clutter and congestion of Northern Virginia.

“Remington is being discovered by those seeking a small-town atmosphere.”

Mr. Cheatham this week closed the $279,900 sale of a remodeled stucco home on West Main Street to a Chantilly couple who want that kind of experience, he said.

Homes at his Remington Woods’ project will be priced “in the low $300s.”

“We want to have entry-level homes — for people starting out and people who need something a bit larger for families.”

Committed to Remington for the long haul, Mr. Cheatham believes community “revitalization” often occurs one property at a time.

“One neighbor starts painting their house or puts new siding on,” the Richmond native said. “The next neighbor says, ‘Well, you know my house would look better if I did something to it.’ Then the next neighbor does the same thing. So it’s like a snowball effect.”

As of last year, the town’s population stood at an estimated 631, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The town and surrounding-area housing market has performed well in the last year, Realtor Brenda Rich said.

From January through October, 41 homes sold within Remington’s ZIP code, Mrs. Rich said.

That represents a 28-percent increase over last year’s total of 32 home sales.

Prices varied depending on the kind of house, number of bedrooms and lot size.

For example, single-family homes with three bedrooms this year have sold for an average $225,307, according to MarketStats, which provides a variety of real estate sales data and related market analysis.

At the high-end, single-family homes with four or more bedrooms went for an average $291,331.

“You can get more for your money in the Remington area,” Mrs. Rich said. “Most of the stuff in Remington is on smaller lots. So, there’s a better price range for the first-time homebuyer.

“They have a bunch of homes that people have bought and remodeled there. They’ve got a lot of new construction going on. I think it’s a booming little area.”

Remington’s easy access to Route 29 and Culpeper for major shopping also make the town attractive to homebuyers, Mrs. Rich added.

Chat Hughey of McLean owns three downtown commercial structures, including the old Culpeper Co-op building at 301 E. Main Street.

Except for that building’s first floor, Mr. Hughey has leased virtually all his remaining space to retailers and service businesses.

“In the last 18 months” interest in his properties “has picked up,” he said. “I was hoping for a restaurant or brew pub for the ground level" of the old coop building.

And while a couple of eatery prospects never materialized for that space, Mr. Hughey remains optimistic.

“I’ve always thought that a pizza oven with a beer and wine license could do pretty well.”

Courtney E. Ashby, owner of Remington Family Dentistry, has noticed an increase in foot traffic generated by new businesses coming to town.

“People see the office and pop in, which is helpful, because we can get them on a schedule,” said Dr. Ashby, who grew up in Remington and moved back into her childhood home. “New patients are the lifeblood of a business.”

“We all benefit from one another. I’m excited for the new businesses. We’re all rooting for their success. I’m happy things are picking up for our small town.”

About 2-1/2 years ago, she bought Dr. Robert White’s practice, which had one employee, an administrative person who scheduled appointments and ran the front desk.

Dr. Ashby, whose five-person staff includes a hygienist and dental assistant, started with about 500 patients. Today, she has almost 1,200 “active” patients.

New development — the Rappahannock Landing subdivision, especially — already has affected Remington in positive ways, Town Councilman Van Loving said.

“It just adds a lot more people, who are going to buy things” at local stores, Mr. Loving said.

While the councilman welcomes economic development, he cautioned that “too much of a good thing could become a bad thing.”

“We don’t want to become so congested that people don’t come to town,” Mr. Loving said. “It’s a balancing act.”

Joe Korpsak, owner of Remington Community Variety Store on Main Street, believes the town already has serious traffic problems.

He thinks the town needs to address them now, rather than after new development occurs, Mr. Korpsak said.

Truck traffic especially concerns him.

“We get a lot of it,” Mr. Korpsak said. “I’m wondering if that can be restricted. They’re just using Main Street as a pass-through.”
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