New adventures in living, dining and imbibing at the lake

Lake Anna Taphouse’s backyard is a fine location for cornhole, a fire pit and gazing out at the water.

 

Lake Anna’s growth has been steady over its nearly 50-year history. New residential neighborhoods and commercial centers continue to develop to cater to people relocating from distant cities, weekend visitors and natives of the three surrounding counties.

The lake’s restaurant and entertainment scene saw a dramatic upward bump in the past decade, especially on the Louisa County side of the water. Where once there was little reason to venture beyond one’s dockside getaway after a day on the boat, now destinations from The Boardwalk at Lake Anna on the west end of the growth area to Lake Anna Plaza to the east give vibrance to the local scene.

Distinctive new neighborhoods have drawn attention, too, like Sunset Cove, where residents trade away large lots and get increased common space in return, and the long-anticipated Cutalong golf community. Longstanding, large agricultural properties like Elk Creek Farm are transforming into subdivisions before our eyes.  

The lake is growing up, much as those who helped develop it must have envisioned. We take a closer look here at what a few of today’s visionaries have in store for the lake’s next chapter.

Cutalong awaits its unveiling

For 20 years, people around the lake have wondered what would become of the large property known as Cutalong, on the south side of New Bridge Road (Route 208) in Louisa County near Kentucky Springs Road. It has been pitched as the lake’s first golf community, but development has been slow to take off as the property cycled through several different owners.

Cutalong’s current managers think they finally have a master plan that can yield success for the roughly 1,000-acre site. They are working hard on the first nine holes of the golf course, designed by Tom Clark of Ault, Clark and Associates. The next nine holes could be completed by this fall, according to Gary Griffith, a lake real estate veteran who is helping sell house lot reservations for owners Stillwater Equity Partners.

As for the housing part of the plan, the developers have scaled down their initial vision from a grandiose 891 new homes to a more modest first phase of single-family homes and villas. The latter, which are also referred to as The Cottages, will be rentable on a nightly basis.

“What’s different from previous efforts is that we will have more of a resort, family-centric feel,” said Nathan Kiser, Stillwater project manager. Kiser recently relocated to the lake from Alpine, Utah, where his company is based, to oversee Cutalong’s progress. “We’ve seen that be successful elsewhere.”

The golf course will be open to the public while the developers build up a core of members for the facility. Kiser said his team also plans to build a marina on the property’s lake frontage with some entertainment options. The marina will be accessible to the public, or “cold” side of the lake.

“Dad might be excited to go golfing, but the rest of the family needs a reason to be there as well,” he said.

Kiser said Stillwater isn’t making the mistake of its predecessors, who sold house lots to customers before a centralized wastewater system was finished. Griffith is marketing lot reservations to interested buyers, but the actual sales have to wait for the moment, he said. He added that Stillwater also wants the golf course finished first.

The current owners have offered to buy back lots from people who were dissatisfied with what happened in the past, which Griffith called a classy move.

Rock Island Landing planned on “rare” property

A portion of Elk Creek Farm, a sprawling property between two of the lake’s tributaries on the private, or “warm” side, is about to be divided. American Land Holdings, which also helped develop the nearby 112-lot Elk Creek Landing subdivision, is eager to take advantage of the farm’s unique topography.

Dan Girouard of American Land Holdings LLC, who is also involved in development at Spring Creek subdivision at Zion Crossroads, said it’s a special opportunity for the 56 future lot owners. 

“The views are almost like theatre seating … they get better the further back from the water that you go,” he said. “It’s rare to find a piece of land with the features this one has — the shoreline, the deep water and the gentle slope.”

The development will be split between on-water and off-water lots, with water access to the latter provided through common area boat slips. Many of the houses are likely to be modestly-sized, although people who want to build on a grand scale will have that option.

“With the market coming out of Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., we’re seeing that people are not looking to build McMansions anymore,” Girouard said. “They want a small, well-built house that’s easy to keep, with no wasted space. The 1,700-square-foot getaway really appeals to a lot of people, or 2,200 square feet with a finished basement or loft.”

Next steps for the lake’s commercial growth

The Corner, a large commercial development approved by the Louisa County Board of Supervisors last fall, sits at what some observers call Lake Anna’s main gateway, Wares Crossroads. Others call the intersection of New Bridge Road and Zachary Taylor Highway (Route 522) Dickinson’s Store, after the business that has graced this location for a century.

Griffith is also involved with this project along with partner Lonnie Carter. They pitched it to county officials as a chance to do commercial development right, with strict design guidelines for buildings and parking lot landscapes. One street in the commercial center will have shops and restaurants situated close to the roadway and sidewalks, with parking relegated behind the buildings.

The project is a long-term vision, and isn’t likely to see much activity until the Virginia Department of Transportation completes work on a roundabout to replace the current accident-plagued intersection. Construction is anticipated by 2023.

If successful, The Corner will follow in the wake of Griffith’s previous commercial project, The Boardwalk at Lake Anna. That two-phase development began when Tim’s at Lake Anna opened, attracting a number of smaller businesses such as the Moo Thru ice cream shop and a mini-golf course. Two new water sports outlets opened their doors in the building this spring (see article on pageXX). Griffith has plans to build a hotel next door to Tim’s in phase two.

Down the road at Lake Anna Plaza, one of the first large commercial ventures on the Louisa side of the lake when it was completed in 2012, there are more options these days for eating out and imbibing. Vito’s, the Italian restaurant that joined Asian Cafe in the building a few years ago, opened an upstairs bar called The Lounge in 2019. 

Across the parking lot, Louisa entrepreneur Brian Gilbreth and his brother Eric opened Lake Anna Taphouse last summer in the former visitors center. The once-barren and underused green space between the visitors center and the water’s edge is now alive on weekend evenings with outdoor dining, cornhole and a fire pit.

Meanwhile, Cooling Pond Brewery on Route 522 and Coyote Hole Ciderworks on Oak Grove Drive are making their own beverages and offering frequent live music to entertain visitors on their informal and scenic outdoor patios. Not to be outdone, Michael Kavros, proprietor of Callie Opie’s Restaurant on Route 522, has built a new barn for weddings and live music.

It’s an exciting time on Lake Anna, a still-young community with a rapidly changing residential and business scene. 

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