Auction of 224-acre site at corner of Interstate 81, Mt. Olive Road closed
By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER - An auction for the 224-acre piece of industrial real estate in Toms Brook was held Wednesday afternoon, but ended quickly and without a single offer being made.
Gordon Greene, senior auction manager for Chartwell Group LLC/Chartwell Auctions, opened the auction at the Hampton Inn in Winchester. He introduced the Chartwell group and described its success in other auctions held in the area during recent years.
"There's a lot of historic property and interesting land in this area," he said. About 20 acres of the lot rest in core battlefield area, including a hill on the site known as Sheridan's Hill.
The land, located at the southeast corner of Interstate 81 and Mt. Olive Road, stretches to U.S. 11. and was purchased for $4.75 million in 2005.
The minimum bid during Wednesday's auction was set at $2.5 million.
"It's a pretty exciting piece, one of the largest pieces, which I think may be remaining at an interchange in this area of Northern Virginia, especially with so much frontage on the interstate," Greene said to the small group of brokers and bankers in attendance.
Greene said the property could lend itself to a variety of projects, including a data center campus or business park.
Originally, the land was set to be auctioned off as either one plot, or in three separate tracts of varying sizes: 9, 94 and 122 acres. However, Greene explained that was no longer an option.
"This is a very complex asset, ladies and gentlemen," he said. "It has been determined that the land can be sold as a single parcel through its master plan. We've worked closely with Shenandoah County and the community as to how the property can be developed, and a number of parties have expressed interest in the asset."
He said those parties reviewed the terms and conditions of the contract presented at the auction, but Chartwell was advised that "a number of parties are not prepared to bid under those terms and conditions."
"We've been advised by the selling group, on that basis, that the property will be removed to private negotiated sale," Greene said. "I know there are parties who were interested here, and we're happy to sit down with you as we have representation of the selling group."
Greene said after closing the auction that some parties may be prepared at this point to make conditional offers, but at least two prospective buyers wouldn't make a firm offer until studies of the land are completed, which would take another 30 days.
Doug Arthur, Strasburg attorney and partial owner of the land, was present at the auction, but declined to comment.
"This is not a transparent asset," Greene said of the site. "It's a property that needs a lot of thought and consideration."
Following the auction, Greene said that Chartwell would begin talks and negotiation with several prospects, and could have an update on a buyer by Friday.
"I've been doing this for over 30 years," Greene said. "Every piece of land, every situation, is different."