The Willard Companies has helped transform Smith Mountain Lake from a sleepy rural valley into a resort area that attracts people from across the country to enjoy golf, recreation, and resort living. The Willard Companies is the umbrella for Willard Construction of Roanoke Valley, Inc., Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate, Westlake Towne Center, and Westlake Cinema.
People from all walks of life looking for an active lifestyle in an idyllic setting need not look beyond our lake nestled beside the Blue Ridge Mountains. REALTORS® representing Willard’s real estate company, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate, have guided thousands of families from around the world who have chosen to move to the lake, whether for retirement, for a second home, or primary residence. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices REALTORS® are proven, consistent leaders in sales as well as customer and client service, finding and selling premier lake properties since the company’s founding in 1987.
In 1976, Ronald L. Willard Sr. founded The Waterfront, Smith Mountain Lake’s first country club community. The Waterfront encompasses 750 acres and 8.5 miles of shoreline. The 18-hole, PGA Championship golf course was designed by George Dillon of the Fazio Group. The 22,000-square-foot clubhouse was planned by The Willard Companies in cooperation with Robert Bradley, AIA and Associates. Amenities include tennis and pickleball courts, swimming pool, fitness center, driving range, pro shop and fine dining. Willard developed and managed the club until its sale in December 2020 to The Waterfront Management LLC.
In 1985, The Willard Companies purchased an additional 712 acres on which to build a planned community called The Water’s Edge. The Willard Companies began development of the lake’s second country club community in 1986. With 13 miles of shoreline and more than 700 acres, this is one of Smith Mountain Lake’s most prestigious communities. The 18-hole, PGA Championship golf course was designed by R.F. Loving Jr., ASGC, a nationally renowned golf course architect. The course was named one of Golf Digest’s five best courses in the country. In 2008, The Water’s Edge completed a $5 million course renovation by Aspen Corporation and golf architect, Richard Mandell and Aspen Corporation. Amenities include clay tennis and pickleball courts, junior Olympic size pool, driving range, pro shop, fitness center, equestrian center and fine dining. Willard developed and managed the club until its sale in December 2020 to McConnell Golf.
In 1996, The Willard Companies purchased Chestnut Creek, a semi-private golf course, renamed it The Westlake, and later changed its status to public. The Westlake is cut out of the woods and a green that sits by one of Smith Mountain Lake’s many peaceful coves and inlets. The course carries the trademark touch of Russell Breeden, who designs courses with a mix of distance and accuracy making it challenging for all players. A restored farmhouse contains a pro shop and delightful restaurant. Banquet facilities are available for meetings, conferences and receptions. Other amenities include a driving range, an Olympic-size swimming pool. Willard developed and managed the course until its sale in December 2020 to McConnell Golf.
From 2000 until 2018, The Willard Companies owned and managed Smith Mountain Building Supply in order to better serve Smith Mountain Lake builders and contractors.
In the fall of 2001, The Willard Companies completed its first constructed facility in its commercial development, Westlake Towne Center. which quickly evolved into Smith Mountain Lake’s key destination for shopping and retail. Anchor tenants include Kroger, Carilion Wellness fitness center, Westlake Library and Westlake Cinema — plus, The Westlake golf course is just one mile away. Westlake Towne Center includes Westlake Professional Park and Office Complex, where many of the region’s preeminent medical service providers, legal services and financial services are located. Tenants of Westlake Towne Center enjoy the highest traffic count at Smith Mountain Lake, a full-time maintenance staff, and zero CAM charges. Phase III construction will bring more office buildings, apartment living and additional retail shops.
In 2005, The Willard Companies added to Westlake Towne Center’s community appeal when it opened Westlake Cinema, a 13,800-square-foot theater featuring a four-plex movie theater, stadium seating, games and concessions. Westlake Cinema has Dolby® Digital Surround and optional headphones hooked to a USL Infrared Hearing System for those with hearing impairments. Westlake Cinema offers matinees throughout the day as well as show times during the evening. Movie tickets are available for purchase online or at the ticket booth located at the cinema.
Willard developed more upscale communities at Smith Mountain Lake, including The Boardwalk, located on the lake’s west side. The waterfront boardwalk at the center of this 100-acre community measures a half-mile. Nantucket-style cottages with lake-view porches and boat slips dot the waterfront, making it distinct from every other Smith Mountain Lake community. In 2007, Willard developed The Farm, a planned residential development with a focus on preserving its rural Franklin County setting.
In December 2020, The Willard Companies tightened its focus by selling its three golf course and country club communities. Ronald Willard Sr. is looking toward a future of consulting, as well as spending more time with his family in semi-retirement. His oldest son, Ronald Willard II, is focusing on real estate.