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DavidsonNews.net: County Commission Votes To Buy Abersham Site In Davidson

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The unbuilt Abersham development in Davidson may be sold to the county for open space and a future park. (David Boraks/DavidsonNews.net) Mecklenburg County Commissioners on Tuesday authorized county officials to move forward with a deal to buy the former Abersham development in northeast Davidson, for $3.733 million. The complex deal involves the Trust for Public Land, which has contacts to buy the 243-acre site from Community One Bank and Fifth Third Bank, which own the land after foreclosing on the failed project. "Great news for parks and people," county parks director Jim Garges said Wednesday. He said there's "much to do to reach the closing," but he hopes the purchase can be completed as early as the end of this month. The unanimous vote came near the end of Tuesday night's County Commission meeting. It followed a closed session earlier Tuesday night in which Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation officials laid out the proposed purchase and commissioners discussed the deal. DavidsonNews.net reported two weeks ago that Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation officials were in negotiations to buy the property. The money would come from $6.5 million in bonds and other funds that county commissioners have set aside to buy land over the next year. BLOCK OF OPEN SPACE "Shearer Road Rural Corridor" map, including Abersham, the Allison Farm and Fisher Farm. Click for a full PDF (Town of Davidson) The town and county already own other land nearby, the former Allison and Fisher farms, and the addition of Abersham would create a contiguous block of more than 500 acres of protected land in the county's northeast corner, on the Iredell County line. "It's a great fit for that part of the county, give what's already up there," District 1 County Commissioner Karen Bentley told DavidsonNews.net Wednesday. "And it's just the right thing to do, to preserve open space in Mecklenburg County." County officials say the property will be held as open space and eventually could be improved for a public park. The site already has a network of roads, a drainage system, and a 1-mile stretch of paved greenway. 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. Ms. Bentley said the county had looked at the land years ago before it was sold for development, "but it was just unobtainable" because of its high price. The $3.7 million price tag would be less than what it had been worth previously. Fifth Third last summer put just 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. Read more in our Aug. 1, 2011 article, "County commission to consider Abersham deal Tuesday."