Charlottesville Breaking News

As promised: Halsey Minor chooses bankruptcy for mansion's LLC

As he promised to do, internet financier and halted hotel-builder Halsey Minor has placed the LLC he created for owning a historic Williamsburg-area mansion into bankruptcy, thus thwarting efforts to sell the foreclosed property at auction Tuesday.

The move was first revealed by the Virginia Gazette, a newspaper that has been covering the latest contretemps swirling around the embattled Minor. He once held a fortune estimated near $400 million, but he allegedly got behind on his mortgage payments on the 1755 Carter's Grove estate.

In what seems to have become a pattern, Minor used the planned February 15 foreclosure auction to lash out at the seller, accusing the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation of foisting a leaky edifice on him, of draping the property with easements that might prevent him from opening the place to the public, and just generally spewing attacks on the historical organization's management, marketing, motives, and even its corporate vision (or lack thereof).

The Foundation and others have pointed out that terms of the sale gave Minor and his minions copious opportunity to inspect both the property and the legal documents that conveyed it.

California court records show that Carters Grove LLC, in contrast to some of the larger deals involving Minor, has just 10 unsecured...

15 comments | read more

Don't go with it: Sandler-Aniston vehicle runs out of gas

The people in this movie are dumber than a box of Tinkertoys. One fears they're so unfortunate it's not politically correct to laugh at them. That's not a problem because Just Go With It is so rarely funny. Here is a story that began as a French farce. Then it was adapted into a Broadway play named Cactus Flower. Then the play was made into a movie. Now it has been made into another movie. This process has diluted it like a homeopathic medicine, so that not an atom of the original formula can be found.
    Consider. Danny (Adam Sandler) broke off his wedding at the last minute, but continues to wear the wedding ring. Women find the ring seductive and cannot resist having sex with a married man. Therefore, most (not all) of the women in his life are stupid. This works for him for approximately 25 years. In the meantime, he becomes a famous plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. He is assisted by Nurse Katherine (Jennifer Aniston), who has two kids. FULL REVIEW.

0 comments | read more

'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....

31 comments | read more

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...

14 comments | read more

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...

103 comments | read more
Editor's Note
4Better Or Worse