By Sally Voth firstname.lastname@example.org
A prime -- and at times controversial -- piece of industrial real-estate in Toms Brook is scheduled to go on the auction block later this month.
The 224-acre plot, at the southeast corner of Interstate 81 and Mt. Olive Road (Va. 651,) will be auctioned at noon on Sept. 26 at the Hampton Inn, 1655 Apple Blossom Drive, Winchester, according to a news release from Chartwell Group LLC/Chartwell Auctions.
The land is divided into three tracts, which can be bought individually or as a whole,
according to the release.
Tract 1, a 9-acre parcel at the southeast corner of the site, will have a $178,000 reserve price, equating to $20,000 an acre, the release states.
A second tract, which has about 122 acres, and fronts on the interstate, will have a minimum price of $1.4 million, or about $11,770 per acre.
The final tract, about 94 acres on the southwest corner of Mt. Olive Road and Old Valley Pike (U.S. 11) has a published reserve price of $936,000 -- $10,000 per acre -- according to the release.
If sold together, the minimum bid is around $2.5 million, which equates to $11,350 an acre. That's slightly more than half of what the owners paid for the land in 2005.
The land, located outside of Toms Brook, has been the subject of scrutiny in the past.
About seven years ago, late developer Chuck Maddox announced a plan that would have brought more than 300 houses, as well as industry and commercial development, to the site.
Maddox owned the land along with Strasburg attorney Doug Arther; Doug Boyd, of Sunlight Properties; and Pennsylvania resident Bob Borden, who also had a home in Strasburg. The partners, who had formed Toms Brook Land and Improvement Company LLC, had bought the land for $4.75 million in March 2005, according to a deed recorded in the Shenandoah County Courthouse.
Following a public outcry, plans for the development, known as Brookfield's, were put on hold.
The following year, it emerged that then-Economic Development and Tourism Director Susie Hill had presented the site as a suitable location for a distribution center for outdoor outfitter Recreational Equipment Inc. With Maddox then a member of the county's Economic Development Committee, some perceived a conflict of interest.
REI opted to locate elsewhere.
Another controversial suggestion was to build the RSW Regional Jail on the site, but that was also roundly criticized. The jail is now being built north of Front Royal.
"That's an interesting piece, right at the Toms Brook exit, and just an unusually large piece to still be available right on the interstate," senior auction manager and Chartwell principal Gordon Greene said in a Tuesday afternoon phone interview. "This group had the property for seven or eight years and decided to sell it."
He said Chartwell has conducted other auctions in the region, including those of Hotel Strasburg, the Wayside Inn and Strasburg Emporium.
A number of sellers in Virginia have opted to go with real-estate auctions, Greene said.
"And, the market has responded to these auctions and gotten some good buys," he said.
The release states the location would be ideal for a business park or data center campus. Most of the site is zoned limited industrial, with part of it also zoned for general business.
"The property will be offered in three tracts and as a whole so that each prospective bidder or buyer can make the best use of the subject property," Greene states in the release.
Shenandoah County Community Development Director Brandon Davis on Tuesday described the site as "prime industrial land."
"It's one of the largest contiguous open industrial sites between Shenandoah County and the D.C. metro area," he said.
Most of the site is in the Toms Brook Battlefield's study area, with a small area considered to be core battlefield land, according to Davis.
"As far as we're concerned, high-quality jobs and a significant industrial tax base to help off-set the tax burden across all the other sectors of our revenue streams [are what are sought for the site]," he said.
AT A GLANCE:
• The 224-acre site can be bid as one of three tracts, or as a whole.
• The published reserve price for the entire site is about $2.5 million, with a deposit of $115,000.
• The auction is noon Sept. 26 at the Hampton Inn on Apple Blossom Drive in Winchester.
• By-right uses in limited industrial zones include office buildings, including medical offices; wholesale businesses; cold storage; electronics assembly and distribution; warehouses; schools; police and fire stations; farm machinery sales and commercial greenhouses.
• There will be a bidder's due-diligence seminar 1- 3p.m. Sept. 12 at Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate's office, 1682 S. Pleasant Valley Road, Winchester.
• For more information or for a brochure, call Greene at 877-430-9558,