489-ACRE SITE WEST OF PITTSBORO

Holmes says new development will ‘complement and enhance’ area

$19.6 million land purchase could host variety of housing options

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PITTSBORO — An investor who’s acquired nearly 500 acres of land just west of downtown Pittsboro says the mixed-use development he and his partners envision “will be an extension of the fabric of downtown Pittsboro and Chatham County.”

Edward Holmes Jr. said he and his partners in the project — developers O.A. ”Buddy” Keller III and his son, Carter, both of whom live in Sanford, and manage Carolina Commercial Contractors — are “very keen to creating something with elements that complement and enhance” what already exists in the area.

The trio closed on 488.91 acres owned by the Reeves family of Pittsboro, paying $40,000 per acre — just short of $19.6 million — in mid-December. Holmes cited Pittsboro’s historic downtown area and amenities such as Central Carolina Community College’s campus and the county’s nearby Agriculture & Conference Center as among the features that make Chatham a desirable place to live. 

The as-yet-unnamed development, Holmes says, “will include things that Pittsboro and Chatham County seem to need and want, and that will serve immediate needs as well as future ones.”

The land is occupied now by a farm and sits between U.S. Hwy. 64 Business and Alston Chapel Road, a site Holmes knows well — he visited often there as a child — and has described it as “the premier property” west of downtown. It’s also exactly halfway between the proposed VinFast electric vehicle manufacturing plant being developed at Moncure’s Triangle Innovation Point and Wolfspeed’s semiconductor manufacturing facility planned for Siler City’s Chatham Advanced Manufacturing site.

Holmes said potential housing options for the site include single-family homes, multi-family units and more, based on demand that will be driven in part by new development within Chatham County.

The land is also just a few miles from Chatham Park, the 7,068-acre planned community projected to add 22,000 homes and as many as 70,000 new residents to the county in the next few decades.

There’s no timeline yet for the development on the former Reeves property, Holmes said, in part because of the unknowns related to Pittsboro’s water and wastewater capacity. A proposed systems merger in the works with the city of Sanford would address that, but it’s still a few years from being a reality.

Holmes, who formerly managed Holmes Oil Inc. before it was sold in 2021, spoke to the News + Record about the project.

Talk about the process of making this 488.91-acre purchase. You had a relationship with the Reeves family, but how did the vision and the opportunity for this coalesce?

Our families have been friends since before I was born. I spent many hours going to family cookouts and dinners at their house, enjoyed visits to visit their dairy in operation as a child, and got to occasionally fish in their pond.

I had a call to meet with the three Reeves sisters for lunch back in June of 2021. I’d been involved in numerous real estate transactions over the years and they wanted to how I came about value and how to sell property like this. 

I had no idea that lunch meeting would leave to purchasing their property. 

A few weeks later, a friend of mine, Jody Leidolf, who is a land planner, looked at the property with me to give me his input to take back to the Reeves sisters.

Jody could see potential for the property and encouraged me to pursue purchase. He quickly drafted a concept plan, which I showed to Carter and Buddy, that we all liked a lot. I decided to share that with the Reeves to give them an idea of what we envisioned for their property.

I went back to the Reeves sisters later that fall with an offer to purchase, but they understandably wanted to make absolutely sure they got a fair price for their family land. They engaged with CRBE in Raleigh and after a lengthy process of reviewing other offers, they decided to sell to me. 

The purchase price was about $40,000 per acre. I’m curious about how you assessed the value of the property, particularly given how desirable Chatham has become in the last couple of years — and how home and property values have been increasing?

We looked at closed land sales in the area and in similar halo communities around Raleigh, but mostly used our knowledge of the local market as well as financial projections for potential uses to determine what we felt was fair market value. The property is in town limits, offering the tools to meet the needs of the local market.

You’ve described this as the “premier property” on the west side of Pittsboro. Why? What makes it so?

The land itself is beautiful — rolling hills and water features. There are creeks and ponds. The location is ideal as far as proximity to downtown Pittsboro, the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center and CCCC, and there is great access to highways for commuting or exploring. We can complement plans already in place for some of these amenities and create connectivity to them, offering added access and support for their programming. Unlike larger developments, the size of this property offers the opportunity to thoughtfully respond to the existing environment.

You’ve mentioned that you and Carter have worked together before, and of course Carter and his father, Buddy, are a part of a family that has done development work for many, many decades in and around Chatham County. What brought you three together, and what strengths do you each bring to the table for this project?

We have all known each other for a long time. Buddy ran a business here in Pittsboro and knew my father well. Carter and I connected in 2017 through a mutual friend after I mentioned I had a project in mind and this friend suggested Carolina Commercial Contractors as a developer and builder. 

From my perspective, I have extensive background in Chatham County and Pittsboro and a vested interest to see new but thoughtful development happen. Buddy and Carter bring the vertical component and vast experience in seeing projects through from beginning to end. We all respect one another and enjoy the collaboration that happens when you combine the perspectives and experience of people of different ages and backgrounds to create something unique. 

We engaged Jody Leidolf as land planner and he has the experience and desire to help all our ideas coalesce and form something truly special.

What kind of timeline do you foresee?

We are currently still in the planning stages. We are exploring all options for development in order to assess what would be the best use for that property while balancing community needs. 

And how will you navigate the water and sewer issues that are — at least have been — hampering Pittsboro?

We are very excited about recent decisions and conversations that are happening and know that these issues will get resolved at some point. We understand that this land might sit as it is for a time before we do anything at all. The town has been very helpful and supportive and we are optimistic that these issues will be resolved soon.

Of course there’s lots of development happening here … you’ve said previously you’d like for this project to “extend the fabric and character of Pittsboro.” How will that be accomplished?

We see that as retaining green spaces and ensuring walkability throughout our spaces as well as connectivity to other things around us. We want to contribute to the existing sense of community in Pittsboro by making sure our development works well with the ingredients that are already here, including its businesses, amenities, activities, and its people. As the County and the region continue to succeed in economic development initiatives we see our role in supporting and enhancing the built environment to support the economic windfalls.

Working with the town of Pittsboro we believe there is an opportunity to meet their needs, such as inclusive housing and/or “missing middle” housing options, flexibility to adapt and create authentic and unique responses to existing development programs, provide wonderfully thoughtful public spaces, and be responsive to the environment — specifically the Roberson Creek corridor.

What else would you like people in Chatham County to know?

I hope they see us as good stewards of a beautiful piece of property and know that we are working hard to thoughtfully consider the future needs and desires of our town and greater community. In 20 years, I hope people ride through whatever we do and think it was well-planned and well-executed and was and still is a positive addition to Pittsboro. 

Publisher and Editor Bill Horner III can be reached at bhorner3@chathamnr.com. 

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