UMW Buys Up The Block
By STACY HORNE
After two years sitting vacant, the $2.5 million home on the corner of College Avenue and William St. may soon have an owner: the University of Mary Washington.
On Tuesday, sellers accepted the contract for the house at 1201 William St. which boasts more than 8,300 sq. ft. of living space, including a climate-controlled wine cellar, media room and an exercise room with a sauna. It also has an elevator that services all three levels.
The University also recently acquired the house next door, at 1004 College Avenue, which was listed for $1.125 million.
The University plans to use the space for offices.
Because it is a state-supported school, the sales of both homes are now contingent on approval from Governor Tim Kaine, which is expected in March. While the governor must approve the sales, the state does not contribute any money to the purchases.
“We will use some funds from our contingency fund and borrow the rest,” said Richard Hurley, vice president for administration and finance.
The house on William Street was built with the intention of being sold at auction, but at the June 2004 auction, the highest bid was $1.6 million.
The builder, Paul Sukalo of Southern Comfort Homes, rejected that offer and, soon after, put the house on the market for $2.5 million.
Parking might be a problem for the property in the future. There is a two-car garage but very little available off-street parking.
“Parking is always an issue, especially downtown,” said Long & Foster real estate agent, Anna Lee. “When the house was being built, a lot people in the community assumed that the college [UMW]would buy it at auction.”
The University did not bid on the house, despite many people’s expectations, but the house has attracted other buyers over the years, according to Lee.
“There have been several offers on the house, at least one of which produced a contract,” Lee said. “But that contract fell through before closing ever happened.”
She cited financing as an issue. According to Hurley, the offer made for 1004 College Avenue was less than the asking price. The actual contract price will not be publicly available until after closing. The same is true for the property next door.
Now, with a new president and the opportunity to purchase the adjacent property, the time seems right for the University to make the purchase. According to Hurley, the additional space is much needed.
“We have employees working in less than desirable conditions and the properties will give us additional space,” Hurley said.
There is no exact plan in place at this time regarding which offices will move into the buildings, but Hurley said that it would be their preference to have entire units moved.
In the last five years, only six homes in the city of Fredericksburg listed in the Multiple Listing Service have sold for more than a million dollars. If the sale of both of these homes goes through, two more will be added to that list.