The second county to border Smith Mountain Lake is Franklin County, Va. This county has just about anything a person would look for in a lakeside community. The diversity and offerings are tremendous as you will see in the following excerpt from the book “The Definitive Guide To Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate”, by local author Paul Moore.
Franklin County’s border runs along the southwestern shoreline of the Roanoke Channel. It also covers the entire northern shoreline of the Blackwater Channel as well as virtually the entire southern shore of the Blackwater. The Franklin County shoreline includes addresses in Hardy, Wirtz, Moneta, Glade Hill, Union Hall, and Penhook. Franklin County does not generally allow short-term vacation rentals, but there are some houses grandfathered under the old rules and there are many condos and townhomes that can be rented short-term. There are approximately 7,000 Franklin County waterfront property owners. Franklin County boasts the new Smith Mountain Lake Community Park, the Westlake Shopping area, Bernard’s Landing Resort & Conference Center, the Booker T. Washington National Monument, the Westlake Golf Course, the Waterfront Country Club, and Bridgewater Plaza, as well as the prestigious Water’s Edge Golf and Country Club Community. Franklin County also features the Blue Ridge Parkway, Blue Ridge Farm Institute, and Ferrum College, and is a stop on “The Crooked Road,” Virginia’s Appalachian Heritage Music Trail.
Franklin County Marinas include All Seasons Marine, Bay Roc, Bridgewater Marina, Crazy Horse Marina, Foxsport Marina, Indian Pointe Marina, Magnum Point Marina, and Shoreline Marina. Restaurants in Franklin County include The Landing (at Bernard’s Landing), Mango’s, Moose’s, Mei’s China City, Frank’s Pizza, Red Wines and Blues, Vieira’s, Homestead Creamery, and The Blackwater Café.
Much of Franklin County has been the most convenient for shopping and businesses. Westlake Corner had the first major grocery store at the lake and many of the major businesses and other amenities have sprung up from the Westlake area to the Hales Ford Bridge. Westlake Towne Center and the surrounding development has the largest grocery store (Kroger), the Westlake Cinema, the first national furniture chain (Grand’s Home Furnishings), and the first two major building supply stores at the lake (Capp’s and Smith Mountain Building Supply). Westlake Towne Center also features banks, lighting and plumbing galleries, cabinet shops, interior designers, various gift shops, Curves, Wendy’s, and the Smith Mountain Coffee and Café. There is an assisted living complex in the works here with 60 units and 36 independent living cottages under construction.
The greater Westlake area includes The Lake Inn Motel, The Westlake Waterfront Inn, restaurants and shops, and Virginia’s largest Dairy Queen. Several real estate offices are located here including Watermark Realty, Long & Foster, Prudential Waterfront REALTORS®, Smith Mountain Lake REALTORS®, Advantage Realty, Assist-2-Sell, Lake and Land Realty, Realty World, Lake Team Realty, Lakewatch Realty, 1st Choice Realty, and others. RSI Rentals, one of Smith Mountain Lake’s premier vacation rental agencies, is in this area.
Long before the Westlake area boomed, commercial development was already underway in the Bridgewater area of Franklin County. Bridgewater Plaza includes venues such as miniature golf, pizza, ice cream, a wine and deli shop, Chopsticks Chinese Restaurant, Mango’s Bar and Grill, Moosie’s Restaurant, and Bridgewater Marina and Boat Rentals. Construction of the Bridgewater Point Condo community is underway at the bridge as well. Additionally, there are several other boat rental venues near the bridge, including Parrot Cove Boat Rentals and Sales, which includes houseboat rentals. The many real estate offices near the bridge include Wainwright & Company REALTORS®, which houses the Smith Mountain Homes Team office, ReMax Lakefront Realty, Coldwell Banker, Realty Headquarters, Century 21, and Weichert REALTORS®.
The role of visionary entrepreneur and developer Ron Willard in the development of Franklin County and Smith Mountain Lake as a whole cannot be overstated. Back in the early 1970s, when it was a mere power-generating reservoir with a shoreline dotted by trailers and cottages, Ron envisioned Smith Mountain Lake as a place that would one day attract visitors and retirees from around the nation. He persisted in his vision, and though it was decades in the making, his dream has become a reality. Ron and his Willard Companies are the developers and/or owners of The Boardwalk subdivision, The Farm subdivision, The Waterfront Country Club community, The Water’s Edge Country Club community, and The Westlake Golf and Country Club. Ron is also the developer of Westlake Towne Center, the hub of commercial development at Smith Mountain Lake and the home of many businesses that serve the greater lake area (see above). Smith Mountain Lake’s 20,000 or so residents, thousands of annual visitors, and hundreds of business people owe Ron a great debt of gratitude for working tirelessly to make Smith Mountain Lake what it is today. Thanks, Ron!
Another big new development unfolding in Franklin County is Lakewatch Plantation, which includes the Lakewatch Spa and Resort. This self-contained rural village offers a variety of commercial and residential options including single-family homes, patio homes, cottages, and senior condos, as well as restaurants, shopping, business technology firms, medical services, and family entertainment. Lakewatch will be the home of several commercial establishments including an international gourmet restaurant and the new Franklin County/Smith Mountain Lake YMCA. Developed by Trey Park, this new community promises to be a big hit.
In contrast to Bedford County’s vacation cottage feeling, Franklin County, for the most part, has more of a newer, residential feeling. Most of the newest developments at Smith Mountain Lake are in Franklin County. These subdivisions are dominated by larger new brick, stucco, or hardi-plank homes, though there are still a lot of cottages, chalets, and condos as well. Many Franklin County residents are glad to be in a county where virtually no vacation rentals are allowed. Like much of the lake, Franklin County has wonderful views of Smith Mountain and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
There are more than 200 subdivisions on and near the water on the Franklin County side of the lake. There are wonderful developments with upscale homes including Waverly, The Water’s Edge, The Boardwalk, Park Place, Montego Bay, Southwind Key, Contentment Island, Boxwood Green, River Bay, Windtree, Virginia Key, The Waterfront, and many more. Like Bedford County, there are subdivisions where one can find a mix of old and new, large and small, vacation cottages and tract homes. These include Long Island Estates, Highland Lakes, Highland Shores, Fox Chase, Deer Creek Estates, Idlewood Shores, Hales Point, Pelican Point, and Walnut Run. Franklin County has had 560 waterfront residential property sales and 248 waterfront lot sales in the last three years.
Excerpts are from the book “The Definitive Guide To Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate”, by local author Paul Moore.