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Property snatched up at French auction

Al Harris December 13, 2010 7

The foreclosure auction of a prime piece of Shockoe Slip real estate drew a large crowd of spectators and prospective bidders Friday morning, but there was only one winner.

And it wasn’t the bank.

Jerry Cable, owner of the Tobacco Company restaurant, bid back and forth with Hilary Blanchard of Union First Market Bank to acquire the Commercial Block building at 1211-1217 E. Cary St.

The building was one of several properties taken back by the bank from developer Justin French after he defaulted on millions of dollars worth of loans. The auction was held on the steps of the John Marshall Courthouse and conducted by substitute trustee Jay Kepley.

The bank threw out the first bid of $2.87 million. The other registered bidders stood on the sidelines while Cable exchanged bids with the bank, ultimately winning the auction with a $4 million bid.

The bank had extended French a loan on the property of $4,559,500 on Jan. 11, 2008. The property is assessed by the city at $3,743,000.

After receiving a round of handshakes from the other bidders, Cable disappeared into the courthouse to complete the sale.

The approximately 47,000-square-foot building is home to several businesses, including the Urban Farmhouse Market & Café, Sweat and Razors, as well as office users on the upper floors such as the law firm of ThompsonMcMullan.

Prior to the auction for the Commercial Block, the bank was the sole bidder for two of French’s other properties: The A.D. Price Funeral Home on Leigh Street, which the bank bought back for $1.4 million, and the industrial building at 1509 Belleville St., which the bank bought back for $575,000. Auctions for the remaining French properties in Union’s portfolio followed the Commercial Block auction.

Al Harris covers commercial real estate for BizSense. Please send news tips to [email protected]

Editor's Picks


  1. Al Davis December 13, 2010 at 8:46 am - Reply

    Other than being located in the CITY of RICHMOND, it was a good buy……………….

  2. Will Jacobs December 13, 2010 at 9:55 am - Reply

    Well Mr Davis, I see you have no issue posting a picture of the city on the front of your archaic looking website….As a 12 year transplant from NOVA and resident of the city I know I won’t be using your services at all and will encourage my friends to do the same.

  3. Donna December 13, 2010 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Touche’, Mr. Jacobs.

  4. John C. Ficor December 13, 2010 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Think before you post, Al, think………..

  5. Mike December 13, 2010 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    Way to alienate everyone in Richmond Al. How’s business?

  6. Sean December 13, 2010 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    Wow, Al. What a great outlook to bring to RICHMOND biz sense.

  7. Chris December 13, 2010 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    Al thought he was doing it…..

    Doing it he thought he was…..

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