December 21, 2018

Community Housing Partners (CHP) Homeownership has worked with a local conservation group to preserve more than 550 acres of forest land in northwest Blacksburg and Montgomery County, Virginia. The real estate transaction is not only in keeping with the nonprofit’s commitment to sustainability, but also CHP Homeownership’s largest transaction to date.

Multiple partners came together on this project. Earlier this month, the Richmond-based Virginia Outdoors Foundation awarded a $1.2 million grant to the New River Land Trust—which works to protect farmland, forests, open spaces, and historic locations in Southwest Virginia’s New River region—to purchase 553 acres of intact forest on the Brush Mountain ridgeline. The Poverty Creek Trails Coalition, an organized group of local and dedicated volunteers passionate about expanding the region’s trail-based recreation opportunities, is also a key partner.

The New River Land Trust will transfer 218 acres to the Town of Blacksburg and the remainder to Montgomery County, and both properties will become nature parks with multi-use trails. CHP Homeownership provides realty services to the Land Trust and facilitated the transaction as the buyer’s agent.

“Sustainability is an important part of our mission at CHP and one of our core values, so we are always pleased whenever there is an opportunity to partner with another sustainability-minded nonprofit like the New River Land Trust,” said Janaka Casper, Chief Executive Officer of CHP.

Michael George, Project Manager and Principal Broker, explained that CHP Homeownership is a unique business line at CHP. “While we do administer affordable housing programs, we work with individuals and organizations regardless of income,” George said. “Any commission we receive from a real estate transaction allows our services to be offered at little to no cost to our clients and residents in CHP’s communities.”

In addition to helping residents in the New River Valley buy and sell homes and providing education programs for prospective homeowners, CHP Homeownership provides realty services for other local and regional organizations, such as the New River Land Trust and the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises (FAHE). It has also worked with the Town of Blacksburg to develop single-family affordable homes in the town, as well as Virginia Tech on a burgeoning initiative to provide housing opportunities for faculty and staff.

“We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Community Housing Partners,” said John Eustis, Executive Director of the New River Land Trust, which has worked to protect almost 55,000 acres of land since 2002. “This latest deal will help to preserve a scenic view in the Town of Blacksburg and Montgomery County and is a big win for the community.”

After the forest land transfers over to public ownership, the Town of Blacksburg and Montgomery County are planning to work with the Poverty Creek Trails Coalition, which assisted the New River Land Trust in applying for the grant, on designing and implementing a trail network on the site.

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation grant was the largest of seven grants to protect and restore forests throughout the state.