Charlottesville and Albemarle's top 10 private property owners

Charlottesville and Albemarle's top 10 private property owners

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Douglas Caton (No. 10)

Coran Capshaw (No. 9)

Federal Realty Investment Trust (No. 8)

Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge (No. 7)

Martha Jefferson Hospital (No. 6)

Charles Rotgin, Jr. (No. 5)

Wendell Wood (No. 4)

Hunter Craig (No. 3)

Dr. Charles Hurt (No. 2)

University of Virginia Foundation (No. 1)

You hear the same names tossed around in local development time and time again—Charles Hurt, Wendell Wood, Hunter Craig, Coran Capshaw, and so on. Each can boast some pretty significant holdings, but we wanted to stack them up against each other, and know who’s the biggest of them all—which, in an economy like this, is not necessarily a blessing. The list that we present you is the Top 10 non-public owners of property in Charlottesville and Albemarle.

A little bit on how we did it, and the limitations of what you’re about to read. First, we decided not to consider public entities like the City of Charlottesville, the federal government or the University of Virginia. The trick then was to match properties, usually hidden with pseudonyms, to the appropriate party. The 10 property owners here are savvy enough to own the majority of their holdings in limited liability companies (LLCs). For the small fee of $50 annually, LLC registration not only allows them to work under the radar, but it also is a means for various partners to buy land together, each owning a different stake in the LLC.

What we did was comb through the city and county property records for like owner addresses (kudos to Albemarle County, which was much easier to navigate than the city thanks to its more sophisticated database). Hunter Craig, for instance, tends to use either a certain post office box or an Arlington Boulevard address for his various LLCs, which have such names as Cheetah Investment Company LLC, Kenridge LLC and 250 West Holdings LLC (our favorite LLC name is The Filthy Beast LLC, which is managed by W. K. Heischman). We composed a spreadsheet of all those properties, and used the assessed value to come to a total.

To be clear, the assessed value doesn’t capture a net worth of these private property owners. Almost all of these landowners are financed with massive loans. Some of the LLCs are partnerships with various percentages—Craig and Capshaw, for instance, work together on some deals, and Wendell Wood is working with Octagon Partners on his remaining Hollymead Town Center parcels. And assessed value is just an approximation of the property’s value at a certain moment in time, not a guarantee of what it would fetch on the market.

Stacking them up: Dr. Charles Hurt (far left) is second only to the UVA Foundation in local property holdings. Wendell Wood (left, No. 4), Coran Capshaw (right, No. 9) and Doug Caton (far right, No. 10) are all in the mix.

In each case of muddled ownership, we contacted the property owner with our list of holdings. Some graciously reviewed the list; some said they didn’t have time; and some said they didn’t want to be part of the project. Coran Capshaw’s people especially wanted to make clear that Capshaw does not own 100 percent stakes in all of the property attributed to him. Consider yourself duly noted.

One more point before you start gawking at the holdings of some of those in our midst: In many ways, we are fortunate to have so many local people as major landowners. If we must live, work and play on another man’s land, let the man be our neighbor—and not a New York investment trust.—Will Goldsmith

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