Happy belated New Year to you from EQA Landmark Communities! I last updated you on our progress in October of last year and I am elated to tell you we continue to exceed our expectations. We are touched by the response of our friends, families colleagues and, most importantly, in those that put their faith in us to create neighborhoods and places for their families to grow and their businesses to flourish. If we take anything away from this early part of the year, it’s that we are truly blessed to be place makers and our small part of the world has resoundingly responded to great neighborhoods, homes of the highest quality construction and design, and mixed use communities.
Below please find an update on our progress at Newbury as well as some general updates on Edgewater and Venango Trails. I want to again express my thanks to many of you who have continued to support this company, our work and myself, and we hope we honor that support by continuing to execute some of the best new communities in the nation right here in Southwestern, PA. While the economic signals continue to be mixed, the response to Newbury, Edgewater and Venango Trails has been excellent.
Edgewater, our new traditional neighborhood along the river in Oakmont PA, has exceeded our expectations. We have sold 54 homes since inception (approximately 9 months) and have sold 6 homes in the month of February alone! We have received inquiries and interest from around the nation and have sold homes to persons from 6 different states. In fact, we have a database of over 1,100 persons for our remaining 200 homes. For those interested further in this community, please visit www.liveatedgewater.com.
VT Partners, LLC broke ground on Venango Trails and a substantial amount of work has been completed already. Venango trails promises to be the best new community in the Northern suburbs of Pittsburgh, and we are very excited about this community. For those in the region, the entrance road is graded and most of Phase One with regard to infrastructure (storm and sanitary sewer lines) is complete. We are on track to pave roads this Spring and begin model home construction shortly thereafter. We have begun building a database of interested persons over the last 3 weeks and already have received over 100 persons who have expressed interest in the community. Next month we will open our information center in the former golf course’s old restaurant and clubhouse, where our new sales team leader will begin showing people around more formally. Again, for those interested further in this community, please feel free to visit www.venangotrails.com. At build out, Venango Trails will include 473 new homes ranging in price from the low $200’s to over $2.0 million. We are proud that the owner of the property has chosen to dedicate 88 acres of the site to a regional land trust, assuring that this vital public asset, an old growth forest and home to the historic Venango Trail, will be maintained in perpetuity for the public benefit.
It’s going to be a busy year for Newbury in 2012. All of the Cottage, Park and Manor lots in Phase One are sold. 5 homes are nearing completion in Phase 2 and we have no Park homesites remaining in any phase. We will begin mobilizing this week to complete Phase 3 of the residential neighborhood as well as build the park and sled riding hill. I am pleased to tell you that Newbury has now achieved 62 sales in a little over a year! We are nearing completion on the first townhome building and in the next 30 days will begin construction on the second building. With one more sale, we will begin construction of the third building of 6 townhomes as well. We are nearing completion of 84 Lumber’s new home and plan to begin work on the entrance to Newbury Market in the Spring. Again, this will also trigger construction of the off site road improvements on Route 50 and the exit to Interstate 79. We finalized 2 LOI’s (Letters of Intent) and continue to work diligently to finalize LOI’s for all of the stores and shops in Phase 1, and we just began working with our engineering firm to finalize engineering design for the marketplace.
Some folks have asked us why we have not spoken more about our prospective retailers or that LOI’s are “not that exciting”. For those in the industry, I am sure you are aware the days of signing LOI’s for fun are over and that frankly, the only thing more exciting than LOI’s are executed leases. Clearly the industry has changed. Every one of our retail partners has gone to real estate committee for approval to come to Newbury and confirm specific business terms for doing so. Effectively, the LOI process has become the precursor to executing a lease or commitment. I was recently reminded of the changes to this industry after attending the national retail show in NYC late last year. Newbury is surprisingly among only a handful of ground-up retail projects of its size underway or even still viable in the entire nation. As to the second comment, like many of you, I have taken many great lessons from many wonderful men and women whom I have had the great pleasure of meeting or working with over my career. Ironically, its one of the briefest encounters that had among the most profound effects on me. My partners and I were receiving an award for our condominium building in downtown Pittsburgh. Also being honored that evening was one of the most successful businessmen in our nation: Mr. Henry Hillman. I had a brief moment to congratulate Mr. Hillman on his award. He paused briefly, and asked me if I was someone who took advice. It was a wonderful evening, but even in the midst of the hoopla I resoundingly said yes, albeit a bit quizzically. Mr. Hillman said, and I am paraphrasing, “son, remember the spouting whale gets harpooned”. We continue to work diligently and quietly as there is nothing to be gained and much to lose…even though we are but a minnow… from spouting about or speculating on our retail partners and tenants. We are blessed that Giant Eagle, Marriott and our office partner are firmly committed to Newbury and are very pleased with our progress. We are confident everyone will be excited about the great restaurants, mid box retailers and small shops that plan to call Newbury home. And when we are permitted to make these announcements, we are confident those that have waited patiently for Newbury Market will be pleased.
Finally, we are finalizing financing for Newbury Village, our new rental community in Newbury, and plan to begin construction later this year. Again, this 250-unit garden style apartment community will feature 1 and 2 bedroom homes ranging in rent from $1,000 – $2,500 per month. The development of this vital part of Newbury will also result in the construction of the pool and clubhouse at Newbury next year, readying them for use by residents and tenants the following year. Please visit our website for further updates on our progress (www.newburymarket.com).
I am hopeful this email finds you, your families and your businesses well, and we wish you nothing but health and prosperity in the New Year! Thank you for your friendship, faith and support.
Brett A. Malky
EQA Landmark Communities