Category Archives: Development

Biscuit Run “Donation” Price Soars by $20M

Judge Paul Peatross has awarded Biscuit Run’s investors another $20M in state tax credits, K. Burnell Evans writes for The Daily Progress, bringing the price of the “donation” of the 1,200 acres to the state to a grand total of $40.5M.

The land was sold to the state for $9.8M, after the investors were left holding the bag on the worthless parcel when the real estate bubble collapsed, having paid $46.2M for the land at the height of the real estate craze. The project’s investors were banking on getting a lot of state tax credits (which can then be sold) in order to avoid personal financial ruin, since they presumably took out some big loans to cover that $46M, which they’d have to make payments on until they’d repaid the balance. But they didn’t get the money they needed—the state awarded them just $11.7M in conservation tax credits, because what land was worth in 2005 was rather more than what it was worth in . So they sued the state, demanding $19.48M, which is precisely what they just got. The investors’ appraiser claimed that the land was worth a stunning $87.7M—almost twice what they’d paid for it at the height of the bubble—and their attorney today says that the appraisal was vindicated by today’s court ruling, crowing that it “pretty much body slams” The Hook for their critical coverage of the appraisal.

I suppose it’s possible that the state appeals this ruling, but short of that, this now puts the taxpayer cost of this “donated” land at $33,750 an acre. For comparison, Rivanna Farm is on the market for $22,500/acre right now, and they’ll toss in a 10,000 square foot Georgian mansion at no extra charge.

Jefferson School Open for Business

At long last, the old Jefferson School has been rehabilitated, Lisa Provence writes for The Hook. There was nearly a decade of talk about the proper use of the long-time blacks-only school, especially given its great location on 4th Street NW. A group got an $18M loan to overhaul the facility and turn it into a community resource, and it now houses Carver Recreation Center, the African American Heritage Center, and Martha Jefferson Hospital’s new wellness center (helpful now that they’ve moved out of the downtown area). PVCC, JABA, and Literacy Volunteers are also due to occupy the building, as well as a café. The public grand opening is next month.

UVA Practice Facility’s Roof Burns

The University of Virginia’s enormous, under-construction sports practice facility on Emmett Street caught fire yesterday, every area media outlet reports, sending up an enormous column of black smoke that was visible all over town. A layer of rubber atop the roof appears to have been lit by a contractor’s errant blowtorch, starting a fire that spread over a good chunk of the roof and created a challenging situation for responding fire crews to deal with. The $13M structure was slated for completion in August of next year, though presumably that will be pushed back now.

Major Development Proposed for West Main

Developers are proposing a massive new pair of buildings for West Main Street, Sean Tubbs reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow, that would put a mixed-use development on a vacant block. (Imagine you’re going from downtown to the university. You pass the train station and go over the bridge. On the university side of the bridge, on the left, is a parking lot used by Wahooptie, what used to be an auto shop, and an empty lot where a building was torn down 15–20 years ago. That whole block.) Coran Capshaw bought that block some years ago, and now he’s working with a few other developers to turn it into a 5-story and 8-story pair of connected buildings, containing 219 apartments, a restaurant, couple of retail spaces, and a parking garage. It’s being called “The Plaza at West Main.” The density of the housing and the height of the building with both require special use permits, and the Board of Architectural Review will have to approve it, since it’s in a historic district. The next step is for the Planning Commission to review it, which they’re doing next week.

Trump Buys Kluge’s Home

Donald Trump has bought Patricia Kluge’s former mansion, the Washington Post reports, for just $6.5M. The 23,000 square foot Albemarle House was put on the market by Kluge in 2009 for a laughable $100M, which surely makes the $6.5M hurt all the more. She got the house as a part of her divorce settlement with John Kluge. Trump had already purchased all of the land around the house itself, including the lawn and the driveway, then made the place look like hell, all to make it impossible for Bank of America to sell the foreclosed mansion. They wanted $16M, he offered $3.6M, and this is where they wound up a little over a year later.

What’s Trump going to do with it? Maybe a golf course, maybe an inn, or maybe just waiting for the market to recover and selling it all for a tidy profit.