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Museum deed binding, Silver Cos. lawyers say
Attorneys for the Silver Cos. provide answers about the developer's gift of land for the National Slavery Museum.

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Date published: 3/20/2002

The Silver Cos. is giving the National Slavery Museum 38 acres in Celebrate Virginia--and can't take it back, attorneys for the developer say.

"The deed is an absolute conveyance of the property," attorney Paul Elkin said. "There is no reverter, no option to repurchase, no right to repurchase.

"The property--the 38 acres--belongs to the museum and that's that."

Elkin was in the process of drafting a letter to Fredericksburg City Manager Marvin Bolinger yesterday that he hopes will clear up any misconceptions about the developer's land donation.

City Council members asked for more information after speakers at a public hearing last week expressed concern about restrictions placed on the land transfer. Some speakers said it appeared the developer could take the land back.

A story in The Free Lance-Star Thursday incorrectly reported that the deed for the museum property gives the Silver Cos. the authority to "modify and/or release" the gift agreement without the museum's consent.

The confusion stemmed from the variety of documents involved in the transfer. In addition to the deed, the documents include a Notice of Restrictions and a confidential Real Estate Gift Transfer Agreement.

The deed transfers the land from Celebrate Virginia to the museum. The Notice of Restrictions is a public document declaring that the two parties are subject to the Gift Transfer Agreement.

The agreement places certain restrictions on the use of both the museum land and Celebrate Virginia property surrounding it.

The Notice of Restrictions states that the Silver Cos. has the right to "modify and/or release" the notice, not the agreement, without the museum's consent. But modifying the notice does not alter the restrictions in the Gift Transfer Agreement, said attorney John W. Steele, who helped draft the agreement.

The purpose of the notice is to let potential purchasers know that the restrictions are in place.

Steele explained that the only modification would be an amendment releasing a portion or all of Celebrate Virginia's land from the notice.

But this modification or release could not occur if it violated the Gift Transfer Agreement.

The agreement includes certain expiration dates for certain restrictions. The Silver Cos. couldn't release a portion or all of the land from the notice unless the agreement states that the land is no longer subject to the restrictions.

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