Biscuit Run May Become a State Park

Biscuit Run may become a state park, Brian Wheeler writes in the Daily Progress / Charlottesville Tomorrow.

Hunter Craig paid $46M for the 1,200 acre property in 2005, which he intended to develop as “Fox Ridge” (somewhere, I know, there’s a software program that just spits out random names for “upscale” housing developments). He’d planned on somewhere between 900 and 5,000 houses. The Planning Commission unanimously opposed it, but the Board of Supervisors OKd it anyway, allowing 3,100 houses, despite the $222M that you and I will have to pay in tax dollars to subsidize it. The project was put on hold in January, an unsurprising move in the face of a total collapse of the U.S. real estate market.

Presumably seeking the least financially harmful way to dispose of this property (because, really, where is the demand for 3,100 new houses?), Craig is talking with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation about donating the whole affair to the state to join the network of 35 state parks. With the land assessed at $44M, presumably that could afford Craig a unique financial opportunity to write down those losses; a governor eager to increase protected land before his term expires in a month’s time may be able to offer some state tax incentives. Albemarle County isn’t thrilled at the prospect of losing the $325k in annual property taxes that Craig pays on the land now, which would be the effect of moving it into state ownership, but since the project is a significant net financial loss for the county, Biscuit Run as a park would seem to be a good outcome. The only other snag is that chunk of land is in the growth area, which doesn’t make sense as a location for a park. But that’s the land that Craig owns, that’s the only offer on the table, and it’s not clear that Albemarle County has any say in the matter, anyhow.

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