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Celebrate Virginia North land to be sold

About 229 acres in Stafford County’s Celebrate Virginia North development are scheduled to be sold at auction May 21.

The nine separate parcels —the largest of which is 111 acres—could be sold as part of a process that would allow Stafford and Celebrate Virginia North’s bondholders to receive real estate tax payments and assessments that are more than two years delinquent.

The auction is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 21 in Stafford’s administrative board room at 1300 Courthouse Road. At Auction Real Estate will handle the proceedings, and Sands Anderson attorney Margaret F. Hardy is serving as special commissioner.

The nine parcels are scattered throughout Celebrate Virginia North between the developed retail area along U.S. 17 and the Cannon Ridge Golf Club, which Silver Cos. officials hope to reopen under new management within a year.

The tax-sale process is also underway for several undeveloped parcels in Fredericksburg’s Celebrate Virginia South development, but no auctions have yet been scheduled for land on that side of the Rappahannock River.

The Silver Cos. is developing both sides of Celebrate Virginia. The landowners, which include Silver principals and other investors, could stave off the sales at any time prior to the auctions by paying the delinquent taxes.

The delinquencies are due in large part to the $56 million in Community Development Authority bonds that were sold in 2003 and 2006 to finance the roads, sidewalks, utilities and other infrastructure at Celebrate Virginia North and South.

Most of the properties in Celebrate Virginia must pay a semiannual special assessment to service the CDA debt in addition to the real estate taxes owed to Stafford and Fredericksburg.

Revenue from land sales and leases at Celebrate Virginia goes toward making the tax and assessment payments. A sluggish economy has slowed the flow of deals at Celebrate Virginia, leading to millions of dollars worth of tax delinquencies.

In the city, a decree of sale was approved in December for a 55-acre property behind the Seasons at Celebrate Virginia apartment complex off Gordon W. Shelton Boulevard. That decree is being appealed, and no auction date will be scheduled until that matter is resolved.

Other undeveloped properties in Celebrate Virginia South where there are two-plus-year delinquencies are in the tax-sale process, but a decree of sale has not yet been ordered on any of them.

Silver Cos. executives have said the Celebrate Virginia South landowners plan to pay all delinquent city taxes with proceeds from the sale of land to the city of Fredericksburg for a parking lot next to the planned minor league baseball complex, assuming that sale goes through as intended.

The baseball complex, which would be home to the Class A Hagerstown Suns, is slated to go on 38 acres currently owned by the U.S. National Slavery Museum along Interstate 95. The complex would also include fields that New Jersey-based Diamond Nation would use for baseball and softball events.

The baseball investors are working on their construction budget for the project.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405