Project Name: The Homestead Preserve
Location: Virginia Hot Springs, Virginia
Type: Conservation-Based Community Planning
This project is significant because it comprehensively integrates conservation strategies, scenic corridor
strategies, historic preservation, development strategies and place-making strategies that respond to
and respects the existing historic Homestead Resort and the bucolic valley that the project sits within.
This project was one of the first comprehensive conservation based master plans of its kind and allowed
the preservation of over 9,000 acres of land that was deeded to the Nature Conservancy.
Purpose of Project
In order to attract more people to the resort and to encourage a more acceptable revenue stream for
the property, the Owners embarked on a plan to renovate the existing historic Homestead Hotel, utilize
tax incentives associated with land conservation trusts, and create a low impact development of
homesites with strict design controls. The Homestead Preserve represents more than 11,500 acres of
pristine mountain and valley landscape between Hot Springs and Warm Springs, in Bath County, Virginia.
As part of planning the project 9,250 of those 11,500 acres have been preserved in the form of a
conservation easement transfer to The Nature Conservancy – a parcel know as Warm Springs Mountain
Preserve. The remaining acreage in seven affiliated parcels around the base of Warm Springs Mountain
and The Homestead Resort, is to be developed in keeping with the natural and human heritage of the
Appalachian culture and landscape.
An extensive site analysis and master plan process was created in order to determine the best land for
conservation and the best land for sensitive and contextual development. Resource analysis was
conducted in layers and cross referenced with historical development patterns and vernacular
architectural styles to create a development plan that would preserve its bulk in a perpetual
conservation easement, preserve the integrity of the historic resort, enable residences to be developed
sensitively based on prescriptive sustainability guidelines, and to preserve the physical and visual
integrity of the historic valley that is part of the land ownership
Role of Landscape Architect
The Landscape Architect conducted extensive site analysis and research into vernacular settlement
patterns, architecture and landscape architecture as a precursor to design. The LA prepared the master
plan for use in creating the conservation easements, as well as the master plan for development. The LA
contributed knowledge of the region to inform the Development Design Guides and prepared the siting
and landscape portion of the Design Guidelines manual and Lot Portfolios. The LA also prepared
landscape plans for the projects development phases and conducted on site design and review services
to ensure successful implementation.
The project encompasses the mountainous sides of an historic and scenic valley. Careful siting of
buildings was necessary to maintain topographic integrity, minimize visual impacts, and to preserve
vegetation and water quality. Additionally, in order to build off of the heritage of the historic hotel and
region, the design process included research into the history and evolution of the architecture,
landscape and settlement patterns that have shaped the landscape so that the new development fits
contextually and comfortably alongside historic elements within the valley.
In order to control development impacts on the land, a detailed analysis framework was created using
GIS to define and locate preserved open space and acceptable development areas based on a series of
weighting criteria such related to views, topography, vegetation, wildlife, water quality, etc. In addition
to analytical mapping at the master plan scale, detailed lot portfolios were created for each lot to
educate the buyer on each sites attributes. Every neighborhood had a specific set of design guidelines
associated with that particular landscape vernacular in which the neighborhood was situated. Each
neighborhood lot came with detailed instructions related to the importance of maintaining contextual
relationships, areas to be preserved, areas acceptable for clearing, areas suitable for building envelopes,
criteria for revegetation, and criteria for architecture.
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