Proving that there are exceptions to the current credo that raw land isn’t selling, more than 4,000 acres of unimproved land recently sold Dec. 10 in Virginia's Loudoun County, in suburban Washington, D.C.
Of course it has to be land in the right location at the right price.
Subsidiaries of Rock Point Group, a private equity real estate investment company, paid $89 million for four parcels of land, which carries the right to build approximately 2,100 homes, near Dulles International Airport in eastern Loudoun County. Except for backbone water and sewer lines, the land is unimproved.
But entitled land, even at low densities, is scarce in Loudoun, which has in the recent past been averse to dense growth. Loudoun, just outside of the District of Columbia, is also one of the wealthiest counties in the country.
The four land parcels were sold by iStar Financial, which recently took the land back from developer Greenvest LC in a friendly foreclosure, paying $69 million at a foreclosure auction for the land that it had loaned Greenvest $130 million to buy in December 2005, according to county records and news accounts of the auction sale.
Greenvest unsuccessfully attempted to increase the zoning density on the land, which has approval for about 2,100 homes on multi-acre lots, to 15,000 homes.
Neither iStar nor Rock Point would comment on the sale, other than to acknowledge that it happened.
Rock Point is more than an investor. Its land division’s executives have roots in Terrabrook and other master-planned community builders and have the expertise to plan and develop the land. But it isn’t clear whether Rock Point has plans to try again to increase the zoning on the land, which lies in a transition zone between Loudoun’s suburban east side and its west side, which was recently down-zoned by the county.
The four parcels include land called Greenfields, 1,980 acres; Broad Run Village, 1,133 acres; Lenah, 476 acres; and Arcola, 565 acres.
Teresa Burney is a senior editor for BUILDER and BIG BUILDER magazines.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Washington, DC.