Years after freeze, 12 Oaks expanding in Holly Springs

akenney@newsobserver.comJuly 14, 2013 

— Construction is in full swing at 12 Oaks, a large residential development that once was paralyzed by the recession.

A year after the project changed hands, its new developer is cutting new roads and opening new phases in the largest neighborhood under construction in Holly Springs.

“We took an unfinished business, that was impacted so severely by the recession, and we just finished what had been started,” said David Mason, who guided the project through receivership, the period during which Wells Fargo bank controlled the land.

Now Mason works for Landeavor, the new developer, as general manager of the project. The new developer’s goal is to offer a range of pricing, from about $200,000 to $900,000 for homes, in an interconnected development.

In all, 12 Oaks could grow from its current total of about 350 houses to about 1,400 over the next six years. Homes have been selling at an increasing clip since 2010, with more than 60 residences bought through June.

“It sounds corny, but we want our residents to ... not just sleep here; we don’t want them to have to leave here to have a lifestyle,” Mason said.

So as custom home builders lay out scores of new homes, Landeavor’s expanding its network of walking paths, planning a potential new community center and carving space for new parks and gathering spaces.

Maybe most unique is a community garden program, which could open several plots up for the neighborhood’s green-thumbs.

Touring the freshly turfed neighborhoods, each studded with “SOLD” signs, it’s hard to imagine the situation of a few years ago. The long-planned project ground practically to a halt with barely 20 homes occupied, 50 vacant and only a handful of members at the golf course.

Back then, 12 Oaks was caught up in the financial troubles of L.M. Sandler & Sons, whose subsidiary, Wakefield Development Company of Raleigh, headed up the project.

In 2009, a court appointed a third party, LandTech, as the land’s caretaker, while Wells Fargo Bank doled out funding to keep up the project it had financed.

“I was worried that some of my friends at Wakefield were in dire straits, but I was quite confident that someone would come by and pick it up,” said Town Councilman Chet VanFossen, who lives in 12 Oaks. “It was too good of a development.”

It was a stressful time for homeowners and builders who had bought into the land. But the market soon began to thaw, and locals saw reasons for hope.

Even in receivership, the neighborhood remained one of the Triangle’s best sellers.

Last May, Walton Street Capital paid $29.2 million for almost 600 acres of 12 Oaks, including the golf course, and David Mason’s job turned from caretaking to full-on development.

Kenney: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @KenneyOnCary

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