Charlottesville Breaking News

'A step': Donald Trump wants all the Kluge properties

He got outbid by a bank, but the man known as "The Donald" hasn't given up his quest to buy the properties recently lost by Patricia Kluge. By placing an option on an adjacent property, New York-based real estate tycoon and reality television star Donald Trump may still scoop up all the former Kluge properties, including Albemarle House, the storied mansion that went on the auction block Wednesday morning.

Contrasted with previous auctions, the February 16 foreclosure sale was well attended, with, including media, over 60 attendees gathering in front of the Albemarle County Courthouse. Shortly before the bidding began, Charlottesville-based attorney Steve Blaine dropped his bombshell: "We represent Donald Trump."

After a few minutes of spirited back-and-forth between Trump's team and an unidentified woman– sparring in the range of $2 million to $3.6 million–- a Bank of America rep piped up with a bid of $15.26 million and won the house and the 98 acres on which it had lent $22.8 million.

After the auction ended, Blaine said that Trump has the right to buy Albemarle House by matching the bank's winning bid. The Donald won this right-of-first-refusal, Blaine said, when he recently bought an option on an adjacent tract held in trust for Kluge's son.

Albemarle County property records show that the John W. Kluge Jr. trust holds 217 acres, the mansion's former golf course, along with a 1,120-square-foot house, at 167 Albemarle House Drive....

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Field dreams: Camp looks to buy Blue Ridge Swim Club

For the past 11 years, Field Camp owner Todd Barnett has run his nature-centric summer program out of the Camp Albemarle site on Free Union Road. With cabins for overnights, fields, outdoor shelters, and woods for exploring, the location is just about ideal for a camp with one notable exception: there's no on-site swimming pool, a bummer on 90-degree days when tired, hot campers aren't always up for a hike to a local swimming hole. Now, Barnett's hatched a plan to bring the wonder of water to his campers while saving a historic swimming venue.

"I think it needs a little life in it, and I think my camp can bring it," says Barnett of the Blue Ridge Swim Club, the century-old swim club on Owensville Road in Ivy that famously features a 100-yard-long, spring-fed, chlorine-free pool. Barnett says he's negotiated a purchase of the Swim Club that would allow him to relocate his camp there while keeping it open for public membership. Now, he needs County approval in the form of a special use permit that will enable him to operate his camp in the residential zoned area (the pool itself, he notes, is grandfathered in, although he's applying for a separate special use permit for that as well on the County's advice).

The 13-acre property was first developed in 1909 by R. Warner Wood for use as the all-boys Blue Ridge Camp, says Barnett, who also operates the all-boys...

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Wall scrawl: City censors image on free speech monument

Did the City recently violate the First Amendment that its own free speech monument was designed to honor? A prominent constitutional attorney thinks so. 

Last week, a rather Picasso-esque image of an erect phallus protruding from a nude female form covered the words of the First Amendment on the wall, and beside it an editorial advising people to "f**k the cops" lingered for several days. However, a complaint from a citizen prompted city officials to remove the sexual image.

"It’s one of at least three lewd images we’ve dealt with in the last two weeks," says City Manager Maurice Jones, who admits he asked a city parks and rec crew to remove the image after the citizen complaint. "I asked to have this image erased because of the graphic nature of the drawing."

However, when City officials endorsed the construction of the the community chalkboard and podium several years ago, they should have expected this, according to Constitutional scholar John Whitehead.

"Now, if the artist wanted to sue," says Whitehead, who runs a civil rights group called the the Rutherford Institute, "he or she would have a case."

Indeed, Josh Wheeler, executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Free Expression, which built the wall in 2006, explains that the Center cleans the wall twice a week for practical purposes, bu...

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Where there's smoke, there's ire: Condo conflict lights up in Hessian Hills

When Eileen Aiken bought a condominium at the Hessian Hills complex in 2005, it was the first time she'd ever owned her own home. Five years later, house pride has turned into a living hell, and she blames it on seeping cigarette smoke.

Aiken, 59, shows a reporter to the closed door of her bathroom. When it's opened, the room smells like a delinquent teen has been sneaking puffs inside. The thing is, Aiken doesn't smoke.

She continues to her bedroom closet, from which wafts a bouquet of tobacco and the Febreze she vainly sprays to mask it. By contrast, her bedroom smells relatively fresh, but she says that's because she sleeps with the windows open at night– and her utility bill is up 70 percent as a result.

"I just want the right to breathe clean air in my own house," declares Aiken.

Aiken's condo is on the second floor of what was an apartment complex built circa 1967. Long popular with students and located at the corner of Barracks and Georgetown Roads, Hessian Hills was converted six years ago during the housing boom.

A company controlled by Charlottesville investor Hunter Craig– recently controversial for convincing the state to buy a flopped housing project called Biscuit Run– scooped up the 184-unit complex, and a...

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Horn Dogs: watch out, the Budos Band's trumpets might bite you

The snarling interlocked horns of The Budos Band are unbelievably nasty, dizzyingly wonderful, and sometimes totally disruptive, in that it's hard to figure out this group until you properly decode them. After starting as a younger, wilder version Staten Island analogue to Antibalas, they linked up in the mid-2000s with the leading Luddites at retro soul and funk label Daptone Records and promptly started filling old-school analog tape tracks with megaton melodies that launched them away from their Afrobeat roots. Baritone sax player Jared Tankel got to watch everything from the inside.

The Hook: Your horn arrangements in particular seem really aggressive, and I know you attribute a lot of that to Black Sabbath. What other metal bands are good for inspiring horn charts?

Jared Tankel: There's Iron Maiden, Slayer to a certain extent, older Metallica. We all went and saw a Pentagram show somewhere recently– old doom metal guys.

The Hook: Would it be overly simplistic to say that it's a matter of mapping guitar riffs in the metal bands to horn riffs in your band?

Jared Tankel: I think our guitar and bass arrangements have become more and more riff-oriented as well. And certainly the [horn] lines themselves are more funk or soul influenced, but they're also...

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