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DavidsonNews.net: County Mulls 243 Acres In Davidson For Preservation

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Mecklenburg County commissioners will hold a closed session Tuesday night to consider the county's proposed purchase of the 243-acre former Abersham development, off Shearer and Grey roads in Davidson. If the county goes through with the deal, it would create a more than 500-acre block of protected open space in Davidson's northeast corner. "Shearer Road Rural Corridor" map, including Abersham, the Allison Farm and Fisher Farm. Click for a full PDF (Town of Davidson) DavidsonNews.net reported two weeks ago that Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation officials were in negotiations to buy the property. It's a complex deal that would involve the town of Davidson, the Trust for Public Land, and two banks that own pieces of the former Abersham project, which they acquired via foreclosures. On July 19, a subcommittee of the Mecklenburg County Planning Commission recommended the purchase. No purchase price has been disclosed. Mecklenburg Parks & Recreation Director Jim Garges said Monday the price would be discussed during Tuesday's closed session. The county last month set aside $6.5 million for land acquisition. The county is interested in the land because it would preserve open space and expand the town and county property available for active or passive recreation. It's in the northeast corner of Mecklenburg County, on the Iredell County line, near Davidson's Fisher Farm Park and the county-owned Allison Farm. "It would mean that we have a 500-plus-acre block of protected open space, and all the advantages that means," Roy Alexander, executive director of the Davidson Lands Conservancy, told DavidsonNews.net Monday. The protected land would be preserved as a wildlife habitat and would be available for parks and recreation use as well. The Abersham site already has a network of roads, a drainage system, and a 1-mile stretch of paved greenway. "It just has great prospects for making a wonderful park amenity," Mr. Alexander said. BANKS OWN THE SITE The Trust for Public Land currently has contracts to purchase the development's two main parcels, Abersham phases 1 and 2, from Fifth Third Bank and Community One Bank, respectively. The trust typically does not hold land for the long term, but works with other groups or government bodies to help preserve open space. Abersham was proposed as a neighborhood of $1 million-plus "custom estates" on multi-acre lots. In a 2007 marketing package, local developer Frank Jacobus and his partners promised "panoramic forests," "towering treasures" of homes and "great meadows." Instead, the 59-home project wound up in foreclosure and bankruptcy, with lenders and investors battling over the right to sell the real estate to reduce their losses. Fifth Third last summer had put the 150-acre Phase I on the market for $3 million, including registered lots, a section of greenway and completed streets. At one time, the bank held a $6 million mortgage on the property. Community One had provided the developers with $3 million in financing, but later foreclosed on the remaining 93 acres in Phase 2. RELATED LINKS Aug. 2, 2011 agenda for the Mecklenburg County Commission - The property purchase is not identified by name, but listed only as "land aquisition" under the closed session. Read previous coverage of the Abersham project on DavidsonNews.net under the "Abersham" tag.