By DAVID BORAKS
After more than a year on the market, Chartwell, the 8,440-square-foot mansion on 31 acres off Avinger Lane in Davidson, has finally sold — to an unexpected buyer: the nearby Pines at Davidson retirement community. The Pines paid $2,837,500 for the property last week in a deal Pines officials say will forestall development, at least for now.
The Pines at Davidson said it purchased the property with the help of an anonymous donation to be used for “strategic” purposes.
The March 12 sale followed bank foreclosure proceedings against former owners Nason and Margie Fishback as well as efforts by an unidentified developer to buy the land for what officials at The Pines describe as a “high-density” development.
Word of that potential project right next door prompted The Pines to negotiate with the developer and the two-step deal wrapped up last week. According to Mecklenburg County property records, the previously unnamed developer is PRA Houses LLC, of Cornelius.
Sales records show that the developer bought the property for $2.5 million from the Fishbacks. The Pines said it paid the developer $2.8 million, “to assure that the Fishback Property is maintained and would someday be used in a way that meets the best interests of The Pines and its current and future residents.”
In a statement Monday, The Pines President Eddie Muller and VP/CFO David Rainey said the acquisition provides “important strategic options and flexibility in planning for the future.” But the deal also was about preserving the neighborhood.
“The developer expressed interest in creating a high density development which would be permitted under the site’s current zoning classification of ‘Village Infill.’ While the Fishback Property carries certain deed restrictions that could limit its development to single family homes on two acre lots, the enforceability of such deed restrictions is uncertain,” they said. So they pursued the deal.
Chartwell was completed in 1992, modeled after Nason Fishback’s family home in Brookings, SD, with interior elements borrowed from the governor’s mansion in West Virginia. The $2.8 million purchase price was significantly less than the $6.5 million the Fishbacks had sought when they put the house on the market more than a year ago.” It also was less than the revised asking price of $3.9 million.
The 31-acre site is the latest parcel to leave the tax rolls in Davidson, where a growing number of schools, churches, Davidson College and other nonprofits have been buying up property in recent years. The town will lose about $12,000 in property taxes annually because of the change, while Mecklenburg County loses about $28,000. And an infill development there could have meant significantly more future tax revenues.
Town Manager Leamon Brice said he was not surprised to learn that the retirement community had bought the site. Losing $12,000 in taxes is “substantial,” he said, though he noted that The Pines does make payments in lieu of taxes to the town. He said this is the first time The Pines has acquired property outside its original footprint at the end of Avinger Lane.
Margie Fishback said Monday that she and her husband would remain on the property indefinitely, living in a 1,200-square-foot guest apartment above a garage next to the mansion. “But I hope to move away at some point to be near our children in upstate New York,” she said.
Rainey said Monday The Pines is still studying potential uses for the main house, which is in need of renovation. He said for now, the property would remain residential.
Jan. 21, 2014, “Chartwell reportedly near a sale, but not for $6.5M”
April 1, 2013, “Avinger Lane mansion and estate up for sale for $6.5M”
Statement from Eddie Muller and David Rainey of The Pines
One of the qualities that sets The Pines apart from other retirement communities is its location in Davidson on a beautiful, heavily wooded site. In order to preserve the unique character of The Pines’ campus, The Pines recently purchased the 31 acre Fishback Property located at 200 Avinger Lane and bordering the northeast side of The Pines’ campus. The purchase also provides The Pines with important strategic options and flexibility in planning for the future.
As many of you may know, the Fishback Property has been for sale for over a year. In late 2013 we learned that the bank that held the mortgage on the Fishback Property had begun foreclosure proceedings. This led The Pines to explore a possible purchase of the Fishback Property. During such process The Pines learned that a developer had entered into a contract with the Fishbacks to purchase the Fishback Property for the purpose of developing such property. The developer expressed interest in creating a high density development which would be permitted under the site’s current zoning classification of “Village Infill.” While the Fishback Property carries certain deed restrictions that could limit its development to single family homes on two acre lots, the enforceability of such deed restrictions is uncertain. In order to assure that the Fishback Property is maintained and would someday be used in a way that meets the best interests of The Pines and its current and future residents, The Pines purchased the Fishback Property from the developer for a purchase price of $2,837,500. This represents a substantial discount from the most recent listing price of $3,999,000 and the current tax value of $3,465,000.
The Pines funded the purchase price entirely with proceeds from a charitable gift that was designated for strategic use by The Pines. We are grateful for the opportunity that this transaction provides us to preserve The Pines’ natural setting that sets it apart.
At this time the use of the property is to remain a single family residence. There are no current plans by The Pines to develop the property, but that is subject to change in the future.
Eddie and David