n-falridgewood Lender forces sale of Ridgewood Estates
FALMOUTH — A 90-acre residential condominium development, slowed for several years by debates over vernal pool regulations, has been sold to owners who say they have the wherewithal to endure the current economic downturn.
Falmouth residents and business partners Michael Payson and James Westcott, of Ridgewood Associates LLC, have purchased Ridgewood Estates, located between Falmouth Road and the Maine Turnpike spur, from North Yarmouth resident Robert Blackburn of RTG Inc.
According to Realtor Gordon Holmes, Blackburn's financing for the development was provided by First Horizon National Corp. But as part of cutbacks to its national mortgage holdings, the bank called Blackburn's loan, Holmes said, forcing him to sell.
To date, only two homes have been built in Ridgewood Estates, which received final Planning Board approval in December 2006. Neither house has been sold, although Holmes said two more will be under construction within the next three weeks. Designed by Port City Architects, the project's 75 total units of single-family and duplex housing will be clustered to
maximize contiguous open space and minimize impact on Falmouth's
most significant vernal pool.
"The vernal pool issue probably slowed down the process and cost the developer money and undoubtedly hurt the viability of the project in the end," Holmes said. "That was a significant battle."
Holmes, who will continue to market the project, said the new investors
are "well-capitalized" and will be able to "revitalize" the development, which has already eaten more than $32,000 in marketing costs.
But both Holmes and Payson said the only significant change to the development will be a price reduction.
"At this point, we don't plan to change anything," Payson said. "We think it is a good development. It's well-designed and in a great location; we like where it is in the marketplace."
New pricing for the units ranges from $400,000 for a 1,600-square-foot ranch to $570,000 for a home of more than 3,000 square feet. One change that will be made is an elevator will no longer be included in the base price of each unit, but will be an optional feature.
Brothers-in-law Payson and Westcott have been in the real estate business together since 1992, Payson said. They began with apartment buildings in greater Portland and became involved with various projects that included assisted living facilities. They recently completed a Portland development with 25 single-family homes and 30 apartment units.
They both grew up in Falmouth, Payson said, and are confident of the town's draw.
"In the long term, Falmouth will be a desireable place for people to live," he said. "We don't expect the next couple of years to be easy; we think it will take 10 years to sell and build out. Falmouth has a lot going for it and we think in the long term it's a good investment."