A plan to develop the Pinecrest Golf Course, one of the largest open tracts of Fairfax County land inside the Capital Beltway, appears to be on the brink of success after months of financial sandtraps.
Sale of the 106.8 acres of rolling fairways and greens off Little River Turnpike in Annandale should, if all goes as anticipated, be completed after the County Board of Supervisors approves final plans for the site July 19.
The proposed developer, Edward R. Carr & Associates Inc., is still at odds with neighborhood groups, however, over how many homes should be allowed on the property. The firm wants 900 and the citizens' groups say that 800 is their ceiling.
Both sides say that they have compromised as much as they are willing and able to, and both say it now is up to the owners of the land, the scions of an old and well-established Fairfax family, to lower their price to Carr and complete the deal.
The owners, the 16 grandchildren of farmer Vernon M. Lynch, appear to be yielding -- at least in part --to the pressure to lower their price, which reportedly is more than$10 million.
"I've understood what everybody's been saying," said Edwin W. Lynch Jr., the principal negotiator for his family. "And we're working on that lowering our terms at this point. My prediction is that Carr will find that we'll make the deal viable for them."
Pinecrest, once a large pig farm, has been a public golf course for about 25 years. In the late 1960s, the Fairfax County Park Authority bought 30 acres of the land from the Lynches and then leased it back to the family.
The golf course, which surrounds the old Lynch farmhouse, will remain after the sale but will shrink to about 53 acres -- 23 acres donated by Carr, plus the 30 acres already owned by the park authority. It would fit around the planned development like a horseshoe, and would buffer the surrounding area from the construction site.
Lynch said that Pinecrest makes a "negligible" amount of money for his family. The family decided to sell the property about 18 months ago. Estimates are that each member of the Lynch family participating in the deal -- 10 women and six men-- will make more than $500,000 from the sale.
In recent weeks, frustration has surfaced at what appeared to be a deadlock in negotiations over the site. Carr originally wanted 1,070 homes, as well as a shopping center and office building complex. The citizens' groups began by insisting that no more than 300 to 400 units be built on the property. Both sides stress that they have made substantial compromises.
"We think we've come up as far as we could," said Harry F. Day, president of the Pinecrest Citizens Association. " Carr thinks he's come down as far as he can. Now it's up to the landowners" -- whom Day describes as "tough negotiators."
Community leaders, after meeting with the developer more than 20 times in the last 18 months, seem content with the current plans for the Pinecrest site.
"There's nobody who is saying, 'Let's sit in front of the bulldozer,' which is shocking to me," said Mason District Supervisor Thomas M. Davis III, a Republican. "We have something that's palatable to the vast majority of the community."
John E. Cowles, chief negotiator for Carr, said that the developer contemplates building a variety of homes at Pinecrest, ranging from single-family detached houses to town houses and duplexes, depending on the market at the time of construction.
Most of the homes are expected to be in the $100,000 to $200,000 price range, Cowles said.