Charlottesville Breaking News

Riding the rails: It's the only way to fly

news-metro-reagan-nationalAirportNobody brings rail closer to the airplanes than Reagan National and Metro. PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER

It's late afternoon, and I'm standing inside New York's JFK airport with over a dozen of my favorite relatives, when we suddenly learn that the flight back to Reagan National has been canceled due to a severe weather system in the nation's capital. Even worse, the storm has knocked out the rest of the day's flights as well.

As frequent travelers know, when weather grounds planes, there's no free ride and no free hotel–- just the prospect of lining up a set of hotel rooms (each of which can easily run $500/night in Gotham City) or scrambling to find a squad of large, luggage-ready rental cars and enough drivers willing to launch a five-hour (traffic-willing) trek to the DC area.

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Full-timer: Kluge working while filing bankruptcy

Patricia Kluge may have literally put everything she owned into trying to save the winery she created. After months of foreclosures on her businesses and homes, the now Trump-employed vintner and husband Bill Moses have sought bankruptcy protection.

On June 15, the couple filed a Chapter 7 petition seeking relief from creditors including Farm Credit, Bank of America, and Sonabank, which had collectively lent them around $66 million, most of which was poured into expanding and then keeping afloat the Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard.

Also last week, a foreclosure notice appeared for yet another Kluge asset, Fuel Co., the downtown gourmet gas station that's been shuttered since 2007.

On June 9, Kluge and Moses withdrew a lawsuit against Farm Credit in which they claim the bank violated federal law at multiple turns. The decision to drop the suit gives more flexibility to their bankruptcy trustee, according to their Middleburg-based lawyer Ed McMahon.

"The real story," says Moses, "is that in February 2009, to save the winery, Patricia gave [Farm Credit] a lien with all her assets. We didn't think the recession would be as deep."

In April, Farm Credit, which had...

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No exit: Has Hunter Craig created more unsellable land?

Last week's news about the overhaul of the old Martha Jefferson campus shines a spotlight on another piece of the hospital's portfolio, a property on a prominent downtown corner that recalls some of the big names in local history including Forrest Marshall and Hunter Craig.

How the land came into the arms of Martha Jefferson and why it may stay there– and potentially drain its parent company's coffers– is a tale of charity, timing, and quashed expectations.

The Hospital announced in February that it was selling its leftovers, 26 parcels surrounding the old campus. Among them: "High and Tenth," a 1.23-acre tract with more than 50 parking spaces and three buildings holding more than 10,000 square feet under roof. Asking price: $1.4 million.

The listing agent confirms that it didn't sell during the offering period, but she declines to confirm what a reliable source asserts, that one of the two offers came in $1,399,999 lower, at a single dollar.

So why?

The answer is simple. The place is encumbered by a lease that won't end until the 22nd Century and which requires any buyer to assume monthly lease payments of about $10,000 a month and climbing.

How that lease came into the hands of a non-profit medical cent...

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Zazus wrapped up in robbery

Two masked men— one in a hooded sweatshirt and the other in a Scream mask— robbed Zazus Fresh Grille and assaulted one of its employees on Sunday, June 19. Albemarle County Police responded to an alert at 9:30pm, but when they arrived on the scene, the men had escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash. The assaulted employee sustained minor injuries, but did not require medical attention.

Zazus owner Alison Campbell came to the Ivy Road eatery immediately after the robbery, and was relieved to find her staff was safe.

“I don’t really care about the money,” she says. “The most important thing is that my guys are okay.”

Zazus, known for its healthy wraps, sandwiches, and salads, has been robbed once before, over a decade ago, but this is the first time an employee has been harmed. Campbell has instituted several new safety precautions to prevent such a crime from occurring again.

Zazus was closed for breakfast Monday morning, but has since resumed business as usual. Campbell, who has owned Zazus for seven years, says she is touched by the generous support she has received following the robbery.

“The Zazus community had been amazingly supportive, both emotionally and financially,” she says. “This has not diminished our spirit.”

The investigation is still ongoing, and detectives are following several leads, according to the Albemarle Count...

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Naked Beta: Paintless grafitti bridge gleams (for now)

Struck by an errant University Transit Service bus last October, a nine-foot section of wall on the famed graffiti-laden Beta Bridge was reconstructed last week. Crews not only poured concrete for the replacement swath of the missing barrier, but they peeled back approximately three and half inches of layered paint on an adjacent stretch to help match new to old. All that remains to be installed is an urn-like finial atop the obelisk at the end. The bridge is a popular site for painted messages commemorating everything from pledge parties and birthdays to tragedy at Virginia Tech. The last time the bridge received a peel-back was the fall of 2007.

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