With the 50th birthday of Seven Lakes I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Alan Shaw, one of the original developers of Seven Lakes to enlighten residents to a factual version of our history beginning a Five PartSeries, “The 50 Year Saga Of Seven Lakes.“
Through extensive interviews with the former President of Longleaf Incorporated andGeneral Partner in Peter V Tufts and Associates, the two original developers of Seven Lakes North, Seven Lakes South, and Seven Lakes West we were able to ascertain the factual history of Seven Lakes.
The series includes the triumphs and tragedies at the commencement through fruition of the initial concept of a “weekend retreat with dirt roads“ to the resort development it has become today fifty years later.
These interviews delve into the positive and negative aspects, “warts and all“of the factual events of the 50 year history of our community.
Part II, of our investigative five part series on the accurate history of Seven Lakes, Mr. Alan Shaw, concludedwith the creation of the what is now known as the Seven Lakes Shopping Center. Part III explores additionalhistorical facts that begincirca 1977 and what has transpired in our community,45 years after the first construction started.
According to Mr. Shaw, one of Fred Lawrence’s personality traits did not include patience.Perhaps Seven Lakes would never have come to fruitionhad he been a patient person.
In the case of the shopping village, his lack of patience is responsible for the negatives we all see today in that area. He simply ignored the advice of his business partners and moved forward too quickly.
On the North Side of what is now Seven Lakes drive, the entire area was simply platted on maps, surveyed, and sold.None of the planning that was involved in any of the residential area was done in the village.
There was little to no consideration for infrastructure which would include storm drainage, there were no restrictions on what could be built (no county zoning existed at that time), and there was not a plan to insure continuing funding of maintenance for the road network.
Lot sizes were too small to provide adequate septic space for many small requirements and certainly cannot meet the needs of larger users like restaurants.
The South side of what is now Seven Lakes Drive starting at the Food Lion complex and going to the start of the subdivision was sold as a block to a group of local investors.
The planning, restrictions, and maintenance agreements were established and is evidenced by the condition of that property in comparison to the property located on the North side of Seven Lakes Drive.
Some may remember that the builder/developer who bought the property to build a building to lease to Food Lion, originally bought the parcel of land that the Seven Lakes Baptist Church is located now.The residentsof Seven Lakes South whose property backed up to that parcel effectively lobbied the Food Lion headquarters to not allow that to be their Seven Lakes location.
The builder/developer then worked out a deal for the land the Food Lion is currently located.Interestingly, the land was not as level as the first parcel so the builder/developer negotiated a significant price decrease claiming that hundreds of loads of fill would need to be brought to the site to level it for their use.After site work started, it was obvious that the builder/developer was not going to bring in fill dirt but rather was going to cut the front of the parcel down and move it to the back of the property.So, the drop in elevation that exist between Sandhills Winery and the Food Lion was created.
Now turning to the history of what is now known as Seven Lakes South.As was noted in the first installment, there was 189 acres from the original tract purchased located on the South Side of the county road now known as Seven Lakes Dr.
According to Alan Shaw, a funny side story is in the original planning, the property was to be developed as part of Seven Lakes and contained one of the original seven Lakes.
When it was decided to reserve the area for a future golf course, a seventh lake site had to be found because of our already established name.
Dogwood Lakes was born, and approximately one acre pond was dug on the extreme Northeastern portion of Seven Lakes property.
Harris Blake, WestEnd native, Moore County leader, State Senator, ardent supporter, and believer in Seven Lakes introduced Fred Lawrence to Peter V Tufts.
Pete’s family were the founders of Pinehurst and the family sold the town with the golf courses and surrounding 9,000 acres to Diamond Head corporation.Pete was planning on designing and building golf courses. Harris Blake thought this would be a perfect fit.After the initial meeting with Blake, Lawrence, and Tufts, Fred brought Pete in to meet with Alan Shaw.
To Fred’s surprise Alan Shaw and Pete Tufts had known each other for years, and had worked together organizing USGA golf tournaments at Quail Ridge Golf Club in Sanford.Alan as the club manager and Pete as a USGA official. The Limited partnership known as Peter V Tufts and Associates was now born.
Additional land had to be acquired because the 189 acres was enough land for a golf course, but did not provide enough additional acreage for real estate development that was essential to pay for construction and produce a profit.
Valuable lessons were learned from the formation of Longleaf Inc. Longleafmistakenly sold the best lots as part of the capitalization, so the partnership interests were sold bearing a credit towards the purchase of a lot.
The resulting discount, whenapplied would result in a purchase price of about 70% of retail value.
Even though the partners improved upon their first business model, the first, foremost and mandatory rule in the formation and capitalization of a new business was broken and not achieved. Adequate capitalization would be a determining factor in the future success of the development. The new development was begun with less than 25% of the funds necessary to complete the project. Of course, the purchase from Longleaf Incorporated of the 189 acres provide much needed capital for Longleaf.
An additional 325 acres =/- was acquired, Pete Tufts started work on the golf course design and once again an important cog in the Seven Lakes history, Jim Pate, the design engineer was hired to do the planning.
Pete turned in his final golf course design to Jim Pate for land planning and things really got interesting.