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Core of Fort Valley auction property still available

By Sally Voth

Two days after its scheduled auction, interest in a Fort Valley religious estate continues to build.

The vast majority of the nearly 400-acre Mater Dei, the Village of Mt. Zion, failed to sell during Saturday's auction, which was in the basement of the on-site church.

The parcel containing the church didn't sell. Nor did one containing pastures, a school, farm buildings and other structures, one with a small stone chapel, or any of those containing houses.

Five parcels were sold outright Saturday -- not subject to seller approval -- while relatively low bids were placed on three other pieces.

Dr. William Sabates, a devout Catholic opthamologist, developed the village as a self-sustaining retreat center, according to Don Boozer, project manager for Alabama-based Redfield Group, which is handling the sale along with United Country Shenandoah Valley Realty.

According to a property deed on file in the Shenandoah County Circuit Courthouse, Sabates and his wife, Angelica, bought more than 500 acres for about $2.6 million in 1995.

Future deeds show the Sabates gave away and sold some of that land.

The estate was on the market for $20 million, and more recently $15 million, Redfield site coordinator George Bailes said last week.

"I don't know of any [of the non-absolute auction items] that [Sabates] has confirmed," Boozer said on Monday. "They haven't been accepted. The core of the property is still intact. The main property's still available. As we anticipated, if we didn't sell everything, we figured we wouldn't sell much of anything as far as the core property."

Prospective purchasers have been in touch, though.

"We're getting phone calls and emails, people who for one reason or another weren't able to attend, or they didn't attend, and they're wanting to know what's still available, what the price is, that kind of thing," Boozer said. "That's normal, and we will be following up with all them. We had over 2,000 visits to the website [ucredfieldgroup.com]."

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com

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