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Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Kinloch community: Surrounded by golfing options, and more

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        After a weeklong visit to Richmond, VA, I am struck by how under-appreciated that metro-area is as a retirement golf destination.  It is on no “best of” lists for retirement and, yet, the area is rich in history and culture, and the rolling farmland that surrounds the city is perfect for both equestrian and golfing pursuits.  And the golf courses are open year round.  It has plenty more going for it as well.

        One small area west of Richmond is home to multiple golf courses and real estate options.  Kinloch Golf Club, the best golf course in the state and in the top 50 nationwide, is located in the town of Manakin-Sabot, about a mile from the front gate of Hermitage Golf & Country Club, whose 36 holes of golf, plus tennis, swimming and other amenities should appeal to retirees and families alike.  And just down the road is the classic Richmond Country Club which, at 53 years old, can stake a claim as the “traditional” club in the area.

        Both inside and outside the beltway that surrounds the city, Richmonders have access to more golf clubs than you

Richmonders have more golf courses at their disposal than you can shake a five-iron at.

can shake a five-iron at.  Of course, over-saturation is an issue in the current economy; some of those clubs, especially the ones that had the bad timing to open just before the recession, are hurting, but that has opened up even more options for Richmond’s golfers as former private clubs open to the public and others revise their fee structures downward.

        In short, Richmond is worth a look by any golfer contemplating relocation for retirement or job change.  I’ll have more to say about Richmond in this space in coming weeks, but today I want to share some notes about Kinloch, the community adjacent to Kinloch Golf Club (see my earlier review), because for those looking for a home in the mid- to high-six figure range and a golfing lifestyle to match, Kinloch can fill the bill.

        Partly as a marketing tool, local businessman C. B. Roberston helped fund the creation of the Kinloch Golf Club in 2001, even before the first residential lot was sold in the adjacent community.  Robertson owned hundreds of acres nearby that he was developing for office parks.  His thinking was that a sophisticated community with a world-class golf course could help sell executives on relocating their corporate headquarters and law firms to the oddly named Richmond suburb of Manakin-Sabot, two formerly separate towns that had merged (and were named for the Monocan Indians and a French clog, the sabot).  It worked; today the office parks are home to the national headquarters for such major companies as Capital One and Car Max as well as dozens of other smaller companies.


Kinloch still has plenty of lots to make available for sale in the future (those in yellow).  Note that the entrance to the 36-hole Hermitage Country Club is out the northwest gate. Graphic courtesy of Landvest.


        The 345-acre Kinloch community’s most dominant feature is a 72-acre manmade lake, circa 1997, whose shore is dominated on one side by large homes and on the opposite side by lots that are not for sale yet.  At its southeastern end, a few of the community’s larger homes peek from across the lake well behind Kinloch Golf Club’s unique par 3 19th hole.  The entire lake is pretty much tucked away in the woods that surround it, and the developers of Kinloch like to say that many of the folks who live nearby were not aware of the lake’s existence before development began.

        During my round at Kinloch, I did not see a single home until the 19th, and yet the Kinloch “conceptual” plan includes a string of lots along the par 4 first.

        “Club members bought all the lots along the first hole to protect the club from any homes,” says Marshall Bowden, the LandVest executive in charge of Kinloch.  That is a strong indication of how seriously golf is taken at Kinloch Golf Club, where club members also purchased the club from Robertson and his partners two years ago.

        Kinloch opened its first phase of 46 1/3 to 1/2 acre lots in 2003, most of them along the lake’s waterfront.  At first, local builders purchased lots and built spec homes, which sold in the $1 million range.  Later, LandVest assigned specific builders to specific lots.

        “We selected the builders as a way to ensure the quality of the homes,” Bowden wrote me, “to leverage their reputations and ease the ARB [architectural review board] process [because] if the builders have ‘good taste,’ then the ARB has an easier job.  Not all the builders build at the same price point, so it segmented by price and product.”

        Although this locked-in purchasers to a particular builder if they fell in love with a particular lot, customers still had

Kinloch's small but select list of builders are each assigned to specific lots in the community.  The strategy appears to have worked well.

plenty of wiggle room to customize and use their own architect if they wanted.  From my tour of the community, the strategy has worked well; the community is nicely landscaped and the combination of homes harmonious.  The homes are certainly on the traditional side and feature tons of bricks, as you would expect in this part of the south, but the architectural styles are by no means monotonous.  The mostly French Country styles mix just fine with a sprinkling of Low Country and Tudor styles.  (Indeed, the Kinloch Golf Club clubhouse itself is in the Tudor style.)

        Kinloch is considered a desirable place to live within the Richmond metro area.  In all, seven sections at Kinloch, a total of 192 lots, have been developed, and only 16 remain, at prices ranging from $130,000 to $325,000 (although LandVest is holding dozens more, waiting for an economic rebound).  Count on about $200 per square foot to build a nice home.  Of the 122 homes that have been built to date at Kinloch, 120 of them are occupied, which seems like vindication of the strategy to sell home/lot packages and keep out the speculators.  According to Marshall Bowden, the developers carry no debt on the property.  Carrying costs in the community are modest, especially since there is no gate.  Property owner fees are $412 per year with another $348 for trash removal.  The Coach Homes neighborhood of “low maintenance” dwellings assesses owners a $2,000 annual fee to handle all exterior maintenance, everything from “curb to rooftop.”

        Bowden adds that Kinloch was originally conceived as a community for empty nesters, and today just a few young families live in the community.  A few of the residents who play golf belong to Kinloch Golf Club but most opt for the full country club atmosphere and the two golf courses at Hermitage, where membership initiation fees are $20,000.

        The town supplies Kinloch’s underground utilities, including natural gas, which should impress those of us who understand that is the best way to cook.  The town of Short Pump’s large mall is a mere 10 minutes away and features Nordstrom, Macy’s and other big name retailers.  Such conveniences in an ex-urban setting are the lure for many who move to Kinloch, some of them former owners of large family farms and horse farms that populate the Virginia countryside.

        “It is a good community,” says Bowden of Kinloch, “for a low key rural lifestyle without the hassles…”


        LandVest is holding a considerable number of nice lots at Kinloch, waiting to release them when the economy improves.  But the economy puts plenty of power in the hands of those who are serious about purchasing.  If you think the Kinloch lifestyle might be right for you, contact me and I will be happy to put you in touch with Marshall Bowden.  You never know.

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Larry Gavrich

This blog was conceived and is published by me, Larry Gavrich, a former corporate communications executive who founded HomeOnTheCourse, LLC, in 2005.  Our firm advises baby boomers and others seeking a lifestyle in which golf is a major component.  My wife Connie and I own a home in Connecticut (not on a golf course) and a condo at Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, on a Jack Nicklaus layout.  We began our search for our home on the course more than 15 years ago, and the challenges of the search inspired me to research golf communities and write objective reviews of them.