Woodruff Development Co./Woodruff Property Management Co.
Past and present collide in Woodruff Development and Woodruff Property Management’s new mixed-use development community. By Janice Hoppe-Spiers
Southern hospitality meets modern conveniences in Columbus, Ga.’s Old Town, a new mixed-use development by Woodruff Development Co. and Woodruff Property Management Co. “The theme of Old Town is what we love about yesterday but combined with the modern technology and conveniences of today,” says Lucy Jones, president of Woodruff Property Management Co.
Old Town sits on 300 acres in Georgia’s second-largest city and became prime real estate in the late 1990s, which owner Burns Koonce anticipated when he purchased the land in 1950. Koonce’s oldest child, Calvin Koonce, now controls the property and partnered with Woodruff Development in 2003 to explore development opportunities.
“Calvin has been acquiring land over the last 20 years and assembling the 300 acres,” Jones says. “It is in the heart of north Columbus and one mile from the major shopping district. You usually have to go outside of town to develop because there is no land left, but this land has been warehoused for years. Location is everything and the timing is right.”
Jones’ husband, Bruce Jones, is the president of Woodruff Development Co. and has a talent for envisioning the end result of a project. “He can take a piece of land covered with trees and work with the landscape versus scraping it clean,” she says. “Bruce is a creator.”
The husband-and-wife team has been developing the vision of Old Town since 2010, and construction began in January 2013. “[The Woodruff Companies] have been doing residential development for 60 years, but we have taken on this property and integrated all parts of real estate into one area.”
Old Town Vision
Woodruff Development and Woodruff Property Management are building a community that will include everything residents need. Old Town features single-family homes, apartments, offices, retail shops and restaurants. The company says Old Town is becoming a true destination. “All the streets are city streets and it’s not a gated community,” Lucy Jones explains. “We have everything you need in one development and the diversity of a community.”
Old Town will appeal to those who want to sit on their front porch with a glass of wine and wave or talk to their neighbors just as much as it will appeal to busy professionals who want to order their coffee from an app and pick it up on their way to work. “Old Town has all the modern things we love, but the world has realized we still need human interaction,” Lucy Jones says. “Here you get the best of both. Your blood pressure goes down a bit when you pull into Old Town because you feel like you are somewhere special.”
The Woodruff team in January received the National Association of Home Builders 2016 platinum award for “Best Community Facility.” Old Town was also named Southern Living’s “Inspired Community of the Year” in 2016. Inspired Communities are a collection of neighborhoods marked by charm, taste and Southern spirit, the publication explains.
Building a Town
Phase one of Old Town was recently completed and consists of 184 garden-style apartments, 29 loft apartments, 16,000 square feet of commercial space in its mixed use buildings, 4,000 square feet of office space and 30 single family lots. The company hopes to have 26 additional lots online for sale by last quarter 2017. “We are sold out of residential lots,” Bruce Jones says. “In the first 18 months we closed 15 homes. We do have some more prestigious lots that are still on the market.”
Old Town homes average about $200 per square foot, which the couple notes is top market price for homes in the area. “The homes all have front porches and are raised off the ground,” Bruce Jones explains. “We have sidewalks, pocket parks and all the amenities that go with traditional development to give people more than just a house with a backyard. It’s not just a suburban development.”
When completed, Old Town will consist of 270 residential lots, 60 acres of commercial space and 350 upscale apartments. “It’s the beginning of a town and you need those things,” Lucy Jones says.
Moving forward, Woodruff Development and Woodruff Property Management will continue to develop single- and multi-family units in Old Town to drive commercial activity. “Each phase has to create value for the next,” Bruce Jones says. “We are doing it in a way that complements and creates value while not getting too far out ahead of ourselves.”