The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Architect opposes Slavery Museum land plan
BY CHELYEN DAVIS
An architectural firm owed several million dollars by the bankrupt U.S. National Slavery Museum says it never agreed to a plan to sell part of the museum’s land.
Pei Partnership Architects designed the museum, which was never built. The company went to court some years ago to secure a $5 million judgment against the museum for nonpayment, and subsequently has a lien on the museum’s only real asset, the 38 acres of land in Fredericksburg.
Last week, Pei attorney Milton Johns said that Pei—the only creditor that gets to vote on the museum’s proposed plan to reorganize and continue business—was likely to support an amended reorganization plan that pays Pei some interest on the debt.
Johns believed the judge would be likely to let the museum have time to see if its reorganization plan—which depends largely on resuming fundraising—will work. Other parties, including the city of Fredericksburg, say the reorganization plan isn’t feasible and support forcing the museum to liquidate.
But Tuesday, on the eve of wednesday’s scheduled court hearing on the reorganization plan, Pei filed an objection with the bankruptcy court in Richmond.
In it, the company said the museum misrepresented Pei’s support for a new proposal to sell part of the 38 acres in order to raise money and lessen its debt.
The museum’s most recent reorganization plan, filed last week, says Pei has “reached a compromise” with the museum on its debt repayment. Pei’s filing says that incorrectly implies that the firm agreed to waive its judgment lien on the property and wouldn’t object to selling the real estate.
“PPA has in no manner acquiesced to the sale of any of the real estate, or to any waiver of PPA’s lien on that real estate,” the firm’s objection states. “The first PPA knew of any proposed sale of some of the property as part of a reorganization plan was upon service of the filed plan on June 20, 2012.”
That plan is the one in which the museum proposes to sell up to 20 of the 38 acres. The land in total is valued at around $7.6 million.
Celebrate Virginia, which donated the land to the museum a decade ago, has objected to the proposed sale, in part because it attached restrictions to the land that require it to be used for an African–American history museum or education center.
The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Richmond.
Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028