Willowsford is a 4,125-acre (1,669 ha) master-planned community that includes a range of luxury single-family housing and a wealth of amenities, including a working farm that grows more than 200 varieties of produce for residents. The project is located in Loudoun County, Virginia, a fast-growing outer suburb of Washington, D.C. Willowsford consists of four noncontiguous villages linked thematically and with shared amenities. A total of 2,195 homes are planned.
Willowsford’s farm-to-table focus gives residents access to sustainably grown fresh produce from the community’s farm, plus culinary programming built around foods grown on site. The community’s recreational facilities and activities encourage an active lifestyle. The site includes 45 miles (72 km) of multisurface trails, two community centers with teaching kitchens, resort-quality recreation/pool complexes, a lake, several parks, campsites, and other amenities. More than half the acreage is designated as permanent open space, all of which is under the stewardship of the Willowsford Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that is separate from the community homeowners association and is self-funding.
The project is owned by Rockpoint Group LLC, a real estate private equity firm based in Boston. Rockpoint took ownership of the property in 2009, when the Great Recession was ending but still affecting the real estate climate in Loudoun County. The owner selected Corbelis as the development manager responsible for planning and executing the project.
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From the start, the developer wanted to create something unique and respectful of the site. So rather than spread lots over the entire property, the team created a concept based on four distinct villages, each with abundant woods and farmland, both active and fallow. Lots were arranged to concentrate development in “agricultural theaters”—open fields flanked by hedgerows and wooded areas. Each village has a slightly different character, but all have unifying aesthetics.
Sustainability has been addressed in many ways during development. For example, repurposed materials were employed where possible. Trees that had to be cut down were milled and dried on site to be used for the community buildings. More than 70 percent of the mill work used in the Lodge at Willow Lake community building was harvested on site, which turned out to be an unexpected cost-saving measure. Also, barn wood, stone from dilapidated buildings, and other materials have been reintroduced in buildings and trail features.
For more on Willowsford, including videos, photographs, site plans, and financial information, visit ULI Case Studies at www.uli.org/casestudies.