Cov­ing­ton’s Wild­wood sub­di­vi­sion pur­chased

The Covington News - - LOCAL - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­

The par­tially-built Wild­wood sub­di­vi­sion off the Cov­ing­ton By­pass Road has been pur­chased by a de­vel­oper who plans to move for­ward where other de­vel­op­ers have stalled out.

Real es­tate in­vestor and de­vel­oper James Righetti said he re­cently pur­chased the sub­di­vi­sion and plans to com­plete the de­vel­op­ment how it was orig­i­nally planned.

“We will com­mence de­vel­op­ment when the mar­ket re­turns, most likely later next year,” Righetti said in an email. “In the in­terim, we in­tend to as­sist the Wild­wood res­i­dents with the main­te­nance and up­keep of the com­mon ar­eas.”

Wild­wood was in the news last Au­gust when an­other de­vel­oper, The Ar­dent Prop­er­ties in At­lanta, wanted to build out the sub­di­vi­sion; how­ever, an Ar­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tive didn’t be­lieve his com­pany could af­ford to build out the sub­di­vi­sion if Ar­dent also paid to build a sec­ond road out of the neigh­bor­hood, as re­quired by the In­ter­na­tional Fire Code and city or­di­nances.

Un­der the In­ter­na­tional Fire Code, hous­ing de­vel­op­ments of a cer­tain size must have two ways to en­ter and leave the de­vel­op­ment so that emer­gency ve­hi­cles can still ac­cess the neigh­bor­hood if one way is blocked, Cov­ing­ton Fire Mar­shal Tony Smith said last year.

In ad­di­tion, res­i­dents said hav­ing only one en­trance — Scenic Park­way, two one-lane roads di­vided by a raised, grass me­dian — was un­safe be­cause it could be blocked off by a car break­ing down or bad weather con­di­tions, hin­der­ing both res­i­dents and emer­gency ve­hi­cles.

Righetti said in the email he in­tends to build a sec- ond en­trance as re­quired. Righetti’s com­pany, Ox­ford Bowen, has also pur­chased property in Gwin­nett and Forsyth coun­ties and At­lanta.

The Rev. Eric Threets Jr., who spoke pub­licly last year against al­low­ing de­vel­op­ment with­out a sec­ond en­trance, said res­i­dents are op­ti­mistic about the sub­di­vi­sion fi­nally be­ing built out, but they’re also cau­tious.

“As far as the build­ing out of this com­mu­nity, we all love and stand be­hind this com­mu­nity… and wel­come any­one com­ing to join us,” Threets said. “The only thing we’re most con­cerned about is the po­ten­tial dis­ap­point­ment or con­cern that they fol­low through, not only that the city and fire depart­ment con­tinue to stand be­hind us, but to make sure even be­fore a model home is built (the de­vel­oper builds that sec­ond en­trance).”

An­other con­cern is the cur­rent oper­a­tion of the sub­di­vi­sions’ home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion (HOA). Threets said Righetti’s com­pany has hired new com­pa­nies to main­tain the greenspace and pool; how­ever, the res­i­dents are pay­ing for at least part of those ser­vices, and Threets said HOA funds are run­ning low.

Lo­cated on 256 acres, Wild­wood has 53 homes and 34 de­vel­oped lots ready for homes; orig­i­nal plans called for up to 550 homes.

The un­de­vel­oped por­tion — around 189 acres — went into fore­clo­sure dur­ing the hous­ing mar­ket col­lapse and has changed hands mul­ti­ple times be­fore end­ing up with Hamil­ton State Bank and, now, Righetti.

The lat­est pur­chase price was not avail­able as New­ton County Clerk of Courts of­fi­cials said they have not yet pro­cessed a deed for the sale of the sub­di­vi­sion property.

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