April 22, 2011 — Be prepared for the unexpected at Fearrington Village, a unique community just outside of Chapel Hill, NC. So if you are looking for the standard active adult community, you will not find it here. Instead you will see grazing cows, a bookstore, 5 star resort, walking trails, parks, and a wide range of beautiful homes. It’s a refreshing development that reflects the eclectic passions and common sense wisdom of its founder, R. B. Fitch.
Full disclosure department: My wife and I were overnight guests at Fearrington Village (which is also a Showcase Advertiser at Topretirements) in mid-April. No one asked us to write this review; we thought you would want to know about this interesting community.
Fearrington Village (pronounced Fairington Village) was founded by R.B. Fitch and his late wife Jenny in 1974. Influenced by their trips to small English villages, they soon purchased the adjacent 640 acre Fearrington Dairy Farm and began developing the property for people of all ages. It still has no age restriction, although the majority…
of its 2000 residents are retired or of retirement age. It is still a family business: their son Greg is a Vice President in the business; daughter Keebe manages McIntyre’s Books, a top-rated independent bookstore and one of several interesting businesses located on the property. Most of the owners and many of its employees live in the community.
An unusual combination of features
Fearrrington Village has most of the usual components found in an active community. But it also has some features that are highly unusual, as you will see:
– It’s a community of 2000 residents, most of whom live in single family homes, although there are some attached town homes
– Homes sited on lots which range from sidewalk-style neighborhoods with alley entrances for cars (see photo), to generous wooded lots of over 1 acre
– Many differently themed neighborhoods that meander through rolling hills
– Galloway Ridge is an independently managed Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) on the property. The Duke Center for Living there provides a magnificent fitness center and indoor swimming pool, which can be enjoyed by all residents for just a small monthly fee. The Duke Primary Care Clinic is also open to all Fearrington Ridge residents.
– Belties (Belted Galloway cattle) and goats. R.B. Fitch loves these beautiful, white-striped animals, so they get to stay!
– A most unusual entrance – Fearrington Village looks more like a farm (which it also is), than a planned community
– A collection of unique features for a community that attracts retirees: a 5 star, Relais & Chateau inn and restaurant (don’t miss the chocolate soufllee); McIntyre’s Books; a beer garden; gift shop; busy conference center; Swim & Croquet Club; the Gathering Center, and Tennis club. One of the organizations of which the Fitch’s are most proud is Fearrington Cares. From this building the community’s volunteer organization unfolds: need a ride to a procedure, borrow a car-seat for visiting grand children, attend a class on nutrition, or change a hard to get at light bulb – no problem; call Fearrington Cares.
Laura Morgan, Director of Sales and Construction, took us on a tour of the community which included visits to 2 new homes that were just being finished in the Bush Creek and Knolls neighborhoods. These homes, which start at about $410,000 are beautiful, spacious, and airy. These custom homes typically are about 2,000 sq.ft. but occasionally get a bit larger – many have owner-specified add-ons and extras like screened-in porches. All feature Great Rooms, which combine kitchen and living room spaces with wide windows opening to views of the woods and hills.
Fearrington Village builds about 20 homes per year, all constructed by its resident crew (many of whom are now second generation Fearrington carpenters). The company also handles most, but not all, resales.
On the Downside
There isn’t much negative to be said as far as we can tell. Although you can walk around the community on its many beautiful paths, you will need a car for grocery shopping and to go into Chapel Hill. It is also expensive when compared to Florida – this part of North Carolina is very desirable and it has not had a housing boom or bust.
If you go:
Call Fearrington Village and arrange a tour. While you’re there, don’t miss many of the other active adult and 55+ communities in the Chapel Hill area. The nearby Governors Club and its golf course is also highly rated, and you can find more in our North Carolina Directory.
What do you think?
Do you have a favorite community we should know about in the Chapel Hil//Durham/Raleigh area? Let us know in the Comments section below.