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Commissioners to vote tonight on Abersham land purchase

A failed subdivision in Davidson could become part of a 600-acre county park if all goes according to plan.

Tonight, the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners will vote on proceeding with the negotiations for the purchase of 243 acres that were partially developed as the Abersham subdivision.

Although commissioners are expected to OK the plan, other hurdles would remain before the project is a done deal.

The Abersham subdivision on Grey and Shearer roads was marketed as a luxury community during the peak of the real estate market and included plans for dozens of homes ranging from 4,500 to 6,500 square feet apiece and nestled in a 100-acre nature preserve. But the economy tanked, and the only house built, a 4 1/2-bathroom home with a $1.3 million price tag, was never occupied. The lender foreclosed on it and the remaining property in the subdivision.

The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit land conservation group, would purchase the property from Fifth Third Bank and Community One Bank and then sell it to the county.

The site abuts the county-owned Fisher Farm Park, said Jim Garges, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation director. The Abersham property would be merged with the park.

Garges estimated that the proposed park will be about half the size of Latta Nature Preserve. The Abersham site was part of a 2008 Mecklenburg County master plan that identified 6,000 acres that the county wanted to acquire for parks and open space.

The county plans to speak with Davidson town officials about how the property would be used, he said, adding that the land is more conducive to hiking, baseball and soccer rather than a sports complex.

The county has set aside 5 percent of its bond sales, or $6.6 million, for Park and Recreation to acquire land, such as the Abersham site, he said. He declined to disclose the purchase price of the Abersham property. The Abersham property is not the only land purchase being considered this year by Park and Recreation, he added.

Garges said he is keeping his fingers crossed that the real estate deal goes through without a hitch.

“The thing that is important to realize is how much open space was lost in this county over the last 20 to 25 years and the fact that we’re still growing in terms of population,” he said. “Those two factors mean you’ve got to be proactive about preserving land and providing spots for people for recreation in the future.”

Tara Ramsey can be reached at tara.ramsey@mecktimes.com.

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