TRICORD: Local developer aims to build community wellbeing
Tricord's owners try to be good stewards.
By CATHY JETT
Date published: 9/30/2004
|Craig Jones, co-owner of Tricord, is pictured here with plans for a development in New Post. The proposed town-style project calls for 1,548 homes, at least two churches and about 120,000 square feet of commercial and retail space along State Route 2 and U.S. 17.
|Mike Jones said that to stress a sense of teamwork the company's name was taken from Ecclesiastes 4:12: 'A threefold cord is not quickly broken.'
|Mike, Doug and Craig Jones of Tricord, a local builder, have developed projects including Wilderness Shores, a subdivision pictured here in Locustt Grove. Cousins Mike and Craig own several companies, and Mike's brother Doug is president of Tricord Inc.
Mention the name Tricord, and most people think of the developer who helped resolve the feud over the Mullins farm property.
Or, perhaps, the Spotsylvania County-based company that wants to build a town-style development at New Post.
But partners and cousins Mike and Craig Jones have another, more unusual side for a builder/developer; one that reflects the bedrock Christian faith instilled in them by their parents.
That has led them to include sites for churches, such as their own Grace Church of Fredericksburg, and one for Fredericksburg Christian School, which their children have attended, in a number of their projects--and then donate the property.
"There are people in the community who view developers as the enemy, that this has to be an adversarial relationship," said Craig Jones. "We look at it from the viewpoint of: How can we be the best stewards of our community's assets? In doing that, we've tried to build bridges with folks in the community."
That guiding philosophy led them to get involved in the decadelong brouhaha over Mullins farm, which was fueled by developers' and historic preservationists' conflicting visions for the historic property.
The Joneses--along with Mike's brother Doug Jones, who is president of Tricord Inc.--said they saw the angst it was causing the community and realized there was an opportunity to step in and help each group get part of what they wanted.
"We're willing to bring our expertise to the table and work collaboratively for the common good," Mike Jones said. "In this case, it meant a willingness to do things that others weren't willing to do. Maybe it was leaving some of our profit on the table."
Owner John Mullins had considered a number of plans for the property over the years including the Town of Chancellorsville, which the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors shot down last year. That proposal would have included nearly 2,000 houses and up to 2.2 million square feet of shops and office space.
Tricord worked out a contract to buy 227 acres of the farm from Mullins for $12.5 million, and plans to preserve 140 acres that were the site of fierce fighting during the Battle of Chancellorsville by selling them to the Civil War Trust for $3 million.
Tricord's vision for the remaining 87 acres is a subdivision with 294 age-restricted houses and a church site. It also wants to use 48 acres that it purchased behind the farm for a 500-bed continuing-care retirement center. Both parcels will need to be rezoned.
"At this point, I see no reason why we can't move forward with it," said Supervisor Hap Connors, who represents the Chancellor District. "It's in everyone's best interest to come to closure on it, to work with Mr. Jones and his team, who seem to have quite good intentions."
Tricord got its start in 1987 after Mike Jones, who was living in Fredericksburg and serving as pastor of Cornerstone Christian Center in Springfield, dabbled in real estate with his cousin Craig Jones, then an associate real estate broker in Alaska. They decided to make real estate their focus and become builder/developers.
"We picked Fredericksburg as the area where we wanted to live," said Mike Jones. "It was obvious that Fredericksburg was destined to experience a tremendous amount of growth. We wanted to get in the path of growth and let it run over us."
They incorporated under the name Tricord, which was inspired by Ecclesiastes 4:12: "And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken."
"That communicates a value that we bring to our business--our teamwork," said Mike Jones. "You work together, you get more done. We maximize each others' strengths."
Among their first ventures were Banner Plantation near Five-Mile Fork, where Mike and Craig still live, and Seclusion Shores, a subdivision at Lake Anna.
Today, the cousins are principal owners of a company that has developed and sold nearly 2,000 lots, and built about 1,300 houses in such area subdivisions as Wilderness Shores, Port Aquia and Coventry Meadows.
It is one of the larger locally owned and operated building and development companies in the Fredericksburg area, and has a reputation as being professional, forward-thinking and community-friendly, according to Dave Kitteman, executive vice president of the Fredericksburg Area Builders Association.
Tricord's three divisions include Tricord Inc., a land acquisition and development company; Virginia Construction Co., which is a site construction business; and Tricord Homes, which specializes in building starter houses and affordable houses, mainly in Spotsylvania.
"That's the one most people typically think of," Mike Jones said of Tricord Homes. "That's the one that's most visible to the consumer."
New projects on the horizon include New Post, a town-style development that the Joneses envision as the future of development for the Fredericksburg area.
"As we approached New Post, we felt like the answer for the growth dilemma was that it needed to be smart growth," Mike Jones said.
Tricord hired nationally known architect and town planner Andres Duany to design the project, and held a series of meetings to get public input. The project still needs rezoning before it can move ahead.
Currently, it calls for 1,548 homes, at least two churches and about 120,000 square feet of commercial and retail space to be built on 416 acres of an abandoned gravel mine at the intersection of State Route 2 and U.S. 17.
Studies have shown that this sort of mixed-use community generates less traffic because people can walk or bicycle to work, stores and social activities, the Joneses said.
"It's the new urbanism pushed by developers these days under the umbrella of smart growth. It's certainly worth looking into; it has a lot of appeal," Connors said. "We just have to look out for the number of rooftops that are being proposed."
Tricord also is expanding into Caroline and Orange counties, where land is cheaper, and it can build houses for middle-class home-buyers who are being priced out of the market in Spotsylvania.
"We see ourselves as one of the players in a big group of people who share in the development of this area," Craig Jones said.
To which his cousin added, "We want to be a responsible developer and help shape the vision of what this community can, and should, be so it ends up being a win-win situation."
To reach CATHY JETT: 540/374-5407 email@example.com