By Stefanie Jackson – Preserve Communities, the new owner of the Bay Creek resort near Cape Charles, has announced that it has set aside more than 350 acres of the property as a permanent nature preserve.
“At Preserve Communities, we believe in thoughtful development, and by designating several hundreds of acres here in Bay Creek, we’re doing just that,” said Matt Hagler, Preserve Communities vice president of clubs and resorts.
That’s more than half of the 690 acres of undeveloped Bay Creek property that Preserve Communities recently purchased.
But how will Preserve Communities sustain its business in Cape Charles if the company can’t develop half of the property it owns there?
Part of the answer is reducing lot sizes and designing smaller homes, fitting more houses in less space.
That’s actually what consumers want right now, said James Sinnott, Preserve Communities president and chief operating officer.
Buying “massive” lots and building 4,000-square-foot homes for “bragging rights” is no longer the trend, he said.
The average client realizes that a home with all the desired features can be built within, for example, 2,400 square feet, Sinnott said.
Lots that were 100 feet wide could be reduced to 60-foot-wide lots and become more appealing to potential buyers, he continued.
A slight increase in housing density gives homeowners the feeling of being close to the neighbors without sacrificing their sense of privacy and security, Sinnott said.
Clients want to feel like part of a community, but they also want to be surrounded by nature.
They want to get away from the city and be “alone in nature.” They want to follow a trail, observe wildlife, and hear nothing but the sound of birds chirping, Sinnott said.
Preserve Communities is partnering with Avid Trail, a California-based company that designs innovative trails. For example, Bay Creek’s nature trail might arrive at a creek and give hikers the option of crossing over a bridge or leaping across stepping stones.
The nature trail could be used for a leisurely stroll, or a hiker could stop at fitness stations along the way for a full workout.
The nature preserve will center around “BaseCamp,” where Bay Creek members can explore other multi-generational outdoor activities, including camping, fishing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.
BaseCamp will also be the location of Bay Creek’s community garden.
The nature preserve will primarily feature outdoor facilities; however, there are plans to build a heated and air-conditioned clubhouse that will serve as an education center.
Bay Creek wants to host field trips for children who live and attend school in cities across the Chesapeake Bay, giving them the opportunity “to really experience nature” and see crabs and other marine life.
Preserve Communities will be looking for volunteers from the community to serve as “ambassadors” in the program, Sinnott said.
The 350-acre preserve includes a public nature trail outside the gates to the Bay Creek community, featuring a gravel path and a parking lot. The trail will be upgraded in the spring, but it’s ready to use now, Sinnott said.
It’s an opportunity for Bay Creek to “give back a little bit” to the greater community.