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MUSEUM OWES $5M MORE page 2
New York City architectural firm has $5 million judgment against U.S. National Slavery Museum.

Date published: 8/17/2011

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Honaker said Silver's principals are likely to buy the property and then lift the restrictions on it. He said the company would also potentially lift the restrictions for an interested buyer who wants to do a project that would help Celebrate Virginia's overall development.

Honaker and other sources said the tax benefits that went to Celebrate Virginia's partners from the donation of the land to the Slavery Museum won't have to be paid back regardless of who buys it because they would be unrelated transactions.

Despite that and the fact that Silver could end up with the land again, Honaker said he would have much preferred seeing the museum built and the increase in tourism.

It's still possible that the auction could be canceled.

The city sent a letter to Wilder on July 13 to notify him that the land would go up for sale if the taxes weren't paid within a month. Saturday's deadline for the payment came and went. The sale will now be advertised, but museum officials could still pay the taxes right up until the minute of the sale and end the auction process. Wilder has not been available for comment.

Wilder wrote a blog post in February saying he and the museum's directors "look forward to a return to aggressive fundraising in the near future for what we know must be a leaner project." However, the museum is no longer allowed to raise funds. Its registration to solicit charitable contributions in Virginia expired in May 2008, and there has been no action since to renew it.

It's unclear what the opening bid would be at auction. Rife said it's typically placed around the appraised value of the property, which has yet to be determined. It's assessed at $7.6 million.

A Pei Partnership spokeswoman declined comment on the matter. Bury & Partners-VA of Chantilly, which provided engineering and surveying services to the museum and filed a $49,615 mechanic's lien against the organization in 2006, also could not be reached for comment.

In the unlikely scenario that the property fetches more than enough to cover all claims made by the city, Pei Partnership, Bury & Partners and any other creditors, all surplus funds would be held by Fredericksburg Circuit Court for the benefit of the Slavery Museum.

If the funds are not claimed within two years of the sale, which must be confirmed by Fredericksburg Circuit Court, the money would go to the city.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405
Email: bfreehling@freelancestar.com


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