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Housing development attracting attention

Many house hunters have been looking into Huntfield, a development expected to contain 3,800 homes.

Many house hunters have been looking into Huntfield, a development expected to contain 3,800 homes.

April 07, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

The Huntfield development, a planned community that is the first of its kind in Jefferson County, is attracting a lot of attention from house hunters.

The size of the development and its potential impact on the surrounding area have been at the center of many discussions since it was announced three years ago.

Huntfield is expected to contain just under 3,800 homes and will include commercial areas that offer grocery stores and other shops. The homes range in price from $209,000 to $327,000.

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Huntfield will be divided into seven districts, each served by its own park about 1/4-mile in radius, said Debra Chandler, Huntfield's community marketing coordinator.

The areas will be dotted with flower beds and benches intended to create an atmosphere where people will be encouraged to have picnics, enjoy time with neighbors and read, Chandler said.

Huntfield had its grand opening last month, and people are already trickling into the development to see it.

Ten model homes have been built on the 1,000-acre tract about a mile south of Charles Town along U.S. 340 and seven have been decorated.

Last Sunday, cars with Maryland and Virginia license plates pulled into the development. Visitors strolled up and down a sidewalk by the model homes.

Agatha Schooler and Wanda Wilkerson have already bought two homes in Huntfield side by side.

They met each other several years ago and became friends.

Schooler, who lives in Loudoun County, Va., said she is approaching retirement and had definite ideas about what she wanted in her next house, including that it have a master bedroom on the first floor.

Schooler liked the offerings at Huntfield because her house will be "virtually maintenance-free."

The homes have vinyl and aluminum exteriors that require little maintenance and the homeowners association will take care of the landscaping, Schooler said.

"We like the quaintness and the porches. You're supposed to sit on the front porch and say hello to your neighbors as they walk by," said Wilkerson, who lives in Rockville, Md.

In developing Huntfield, designers have used features often seen on older homes in Jefferson County. Some have metal roofs, first- and second-floor porches and functioning shutters.

Cecile Nguyen, who lives in Fairfax, Va., said she discovered Huntfield through an ad in The Washington Post. She was visiting Charles Town Races & Slots over the weekend and decided to stop by for a visit with a friend.

"It looks very nice and cozy. I like West Virginia, with the mountains and stuff," Nguyen said.

In public meetings during the beginning of the Huntfield development process, developers of the project described ways they would make Huntfield blend in with the county's rural landscape. The story of those efforts are illustrated in a museum at the development.

The museum also offers historical accounts of how Charles Washington, brother of George Washington, laid out Charles Town in a grid system. Charles Town gradually developed and today, the residential streets are marked by many historical homes on tree-lined streets with sidewalks.

It's a style that will show up in Huntfield, Chandler said.

"It's what a lot of developers are going back to. People have played down the effect of urban sprawl and they don't want urban sprawl," Chandler said.

The museum points out that much of the land that makes up Huntfield was once owned by Lawrence Washington, the first president's older half brother.

There are pictures of four Washington family homes - Blakeley, Claymont Court, Harewood and Happy Retreat - that surround the Huntfield property and a display case holds artifacts such as homemade bricks, wrought iron nails from the 1800s and pieces of smoking pipes dating between 1800 and 1900 that were found on the property.

At the entrance to Huntfield, an obelisk reaching about 40 feet tall greets visitors. It is a link to historic Charles Town where smaller obelisks designate historic properties in town, Chandler said.

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