Halsey's houses: Fox Ridge offered as plantation deteriorates

The long unwinding of assets owned by internet millionaire Halsey Minor now includes his hometown property: Fox Ridge Farm, a 205-acre equestrian estate near Free Union. Quietly placed on the market in March, Fox Ridge originally carried an asking price of $14,495,000, according to brokers familiar with the offering, but the price has already dropped to $12 million.

"It appears it's for sale," says one high-end real estate broker, who spoke on condition of anonymity and confirms that the price has dropped nearly $3 million since March. The quick discount is no guarantee that Fox Ridge, which does not appear in the Multiple Listing Service, will move.

"Anything over eight digits is dead in this county," says the broker. "Not many people are looking for $10 million properties in Albemarle."

Minor, best known these days in Charlottesville for his struggles as the owner of the unfinished Landmark hotel on the Downtown Mall, was co-founder of the successful CNet and other internet businesses. Despite making a nine-figure fortune, Minor now finds himself in the news for unpaid bills and bankruptcies, such as historic Carter's Grove– as well as lawsuits, including court battles against Merrill Lynch and the Sotheby's and Christie's auction houses.

Minor allegedly is using the services of an auction firm (one that he hasn't been in litigation against) to sell off furnishings from Fox Ridge. Freeman's, America's oldest auction house, has a branch in Charlottesville.

"We don't disclose any of our consigners unless they want us to," says a woman who claims she's the manager at the Charlottesville office of Freeman's and did not want her name in the paper.

Twice, Fox Ridge has been under foreclosure– in 2009 and 2010. Neither Minor nor his father, real estate broker Venable Minor, returned phone calls from the Hook.

Over in the Tidewater area, the Virginian-Pilot reports that the condition of historic Carter's Grove has seriously deteriorated since Minor contracted to purchase it from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for $15.3 million in 2007, and a bankruptcy judge is threatening sanctions against Minor.

"I think the court was lied to," U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen St. John reportedly said last week after discovering that the insurance policy on the 1755 mansion had lapsed, that its caretakers hadn't been paid in a month, and that utility companies were threatening to cut off lights and water.

Minor hasn't made any payments on the property since 2010, and in a bankruptcy filing for his Carter's Grove LLC, indicates he's $12 million in debt. Among the liens now clamped on the property are $3.4 million Sotheby's says it's owed and $5 million for a private jet that Minor leased, the Virginia Gazette reports.

Bankruptcy attorney Stanley J. Samorajczyk has been named trustee, and he's working to get water damage fixed and restore the air-conditioning and heating systems in anticipation of selling the 400-plus acre historic James River plantation.

In Free Union, Fox Ridge will be competing against a couple of other properties in the over-$10-million range, according to the MLS of the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors, including Edgar Bronfman's 636-acre Georgetown Farm, which has been listed for several years and is now priced at $10.3 million.

Fox Ridge is assessed at $3.7 million.

Correction 11:15am: Samuel T. Freeman & Co. is based in Philadelphia, not Scotland.


Check your facts and please print the following correction

Samuel T. Freeman & Co. , based in Philadelphia is the oldest auction house in America. Partnered with Lyon & Turnbull with offices in London and Scotland.


Notice Joycelyn correctly corrected your story to "based in Philadelphia," not "based out of Philadelphia."

I'm no realtor, but triple the assessed value would not seem to be priced to sell.

@ HookReader,

Go to Albemarle County land records and put in Fox Ridge for the owner of Fox Ridge Farm and you'll find the reason for the low assessment is that the land is in a conservation easement.

As The Hook has reported previously, such easements provide huge, subsidized tax breaks to those in the county who own estates like Fox Ridge Farm. Make no mistake, these ARE estates, and their owners have no plans whatsoever to "develop" them.

Hoo gives a crap?



You sound bitter. Conservation easements preserve the beauty of Albemarle county and in many cases, the owners of such property are making uneconomical decisions when putting their land on easement. Yes they get tax breaks, but they probably could have sold the property for much more. And in return, instead of pavement, developments, and strip malls, we get beautiful farms and countryside and forests that generations to come can enjoy.