By Kathy Watts
Privacy on Kerr Lake just got a little more private.
Lots on sale now in Somerset Plantation, the first gated community on the 50,000-acre lake that straddles North Carolina and Virginia. Kerr Lake extends 39 miles up the Roanoke River, and it has more than 850 miles of shoreline. Built by the Army Corps of Engineers to provide flood control and hydroelectric power, the lake also attracts boaters, fishers and campers. “You can always find privacy on Kerr Lake,” said W.A. Currin, who, along with his business partner Tommy Hester, is developing Somerset Plantation under T & W Investments in Henderson.
Nevertheless, Hester said he and Currin saw a need for a gated, private community on the lake. “We’ve been buying everything we could find on the lake.” Currin said. The partners – with 18 years’ experience developing and selling property at the lake – have fond memories of the lake. Hester learned to water-ski there, and Currin fished it. “It’s just such a fantastic lake,” said Currin, who has lived at several locations on Kerr Lake.The 51-lot development project took a lot of patience and a little luck.
“It’s taken us 2 1/2 years to put this together,” Hester said. They bought two pieces of land, and the result is a development with 7,500 feet of lakefront property. “It’s a lot of lakefront for 100 acres of land,” Hester said, “We were at the right place at the right time.” Lots range from 0.7 acres to nearly 5 acres and cost $50,000 to $150,000. Boat dock permits are available for the 44 lakefront lots, Hester said, and the development also will have a community dock. Docks are only allowed on 31 percent of the lake’s shoreline. The Corps limits the amount of development to preserve the aesthetic qualities of the lake, said Michael Womack, chief ranger of shorelines for the Army Corps of Engineers. “We like to think it’s the the best place in the state,” Womack said. Located in the Nutbush area of Kerr Lake, Somerset Plantation sits across the lake from Steele Creek Marina, where people can rent a slip to keep their boats. “If you really wanted to, you could jump off your dock and and swim to your boat,” Hester said. Restrictive covenants require stick-built houses that are a minimum of 1,550 square feet, and Hester expects that some people will build their second home or retire there.
Prim Development will build several homes, and Currin’s Real Estate, which is selling the lots, already has received 12 “reservations” from people for lots they want to purchase once the site work is completed. “My one word is perfect.’ ” said Benny Finch, director of economic development for Vance County. Hester also serves as a Vance County commissioner, and he sees this development as part of the county’s big picture. “Vance County’s got a lot of things to offer that people haven’t thought about.” he said. For example, the development is 10 miles from Maria Parham Hospital, which is undergoing a $48 million expansion. In March, 2003, the first permanent MRI unit in this part of the state came online at the hospital. Another major development planned for the county is a library, which will be built at a cost of $6.2 million as part of the Embassy Cultural Center in downtown Henderson. The Embassy Cultural Center will house not only the library but also a performing arts theater A gallery holding a variety of permanent displays will connect the library and theater. For each lot that sells, Currin and Hester will donate $500 to the library fund. Once all the lots sell, the donation will come to $25,000. “My partner and I feel that education is one key that will help to turn the corner for Vance County, because we’ve lost so many jobs (in) tobacco and textiles,” Hester said. “We need to refocus.”
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