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City in process to auction slavery museum land for still-unpaid tax bill
A sculpture at the former slavery museum site is surrounded by weeds.
FILE/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 12/7/2012
Robinson at the time had proposed selling off about half of the museum's land to pay its debts.
Celebrate Virginia's attorneys, as well as the company's director of development Scott Little, had argued that the use covenants are legal and enforceable. The company objected to Robinson's plan to sell part of the land.
In the circuit court filings, Pei's attorney argues that the restrictions should not be enforceable against third-party purchasers of the land.
Enforcing them, Pei said, "will dramatically reduce the price of the property," as will the fact that the issue is unresolved, creating what Pei called a "cloud on the title."
Unless the restrictions are removed, Pei said, "the property cannot be used for commercial or residential purposes," which will make it more difficult for the city to find a buyer.
The city has opposed Pei's motion, saying that the case at hand concerns whether the city can sell the land for back taxes, and that the question of the legality of deed restrictions isn't relevant to the case.
Celebrate Virginia has also filed paperwork to be involved in the case, arguing that the company "has substantial interest in the outcome" of the judge's decision.
During the bankruptcy case, Celebrate Virginia's attorneys and Little had testified that the Celebrate Virginia development had relied heavily on the museum becoming an anchor that lured other tenants.
The museum's failure, Little said, had contributed to the development's loss of other projects and hurt Celebrate Virginia's standing in the community.
Celebrate Virginia doesn't want the land parceled off to someone who might build things counter to Celebrate Virginia's own development plans.
Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028