Two bids, $36M dismantle Jefferson empire

A four-hour long auction on Thursday sealed the fate of a convicted developer's real estate holdings. Photo by Katie Demeria.

A five-hour auction on Thursday sealed the fate of a convicted developer’s real estate holdings. Photo by Katie Demeria.

The Richmond real estate empire of imprisoned local developer Billy G. Jefferson Jr. is set to change hands.

Two unidentified buyers bid a total of $36.8 million on Jefferson’s River City Renaissance portfolio at a bankruptcy auction on Thursday.

The 29 apartment buildings totaling 405,000 square feet and 440 units throughout the Fan and Museum District were up for sale in a packed room of around 200 at the downtown Richmond Marriott.

The auction was held behind closed doors and media was not permitted in the room during bidding. The sale was handled by SVN/Motley, the commercial real estate arm of Motleys Asset Disposition Group.

“It was standing-room only,” said Motleys president Mark Motley. “It was very spirited bidding.”

The apartments at 2716 W. Grace St. could also face auction if a judge denies the movement.

Jefferson’s apartment holdings include many properties in popular areas of the Fan.

After nearly five hours of bidding, one winning buyer paid $30.5 million for a piece of the portfolio. The other winning bidder paid $6.3 million for the rest of the properties.

Motley did not identify either of the winning bidders, and he wouldn’t say which of the 29 apartment buildings went to either buyer.

Motley said the company was pleased with the final combined sales price.

“It was a little more than we were expecting,” he said.

The entire portfolio was assessed at between $30 and $40 million.

The highly-anticipated sale has been in the works for several months and was ordered by a federal judge after River City Renaissance put its two main portfolios into bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure.

Jefferson – once one of the area’s most prominent landlords – is in the process of appealing a 20-year sentence on charges related to historic tax credit fraud.

Motleys held a first round of bidding that ended last week. The top two-thirds of bidders from that round were invited to participate in Thursday’s auction.

Buyers were able to bid on any range of properties from an individual building up to the entire portfolio. There were several bids Thursday on the entire portfolio, which Motley said was expected.

“It went back and forth a little bit, with the individual bids being the high bid, then the entirety bid being the high bid, then the individual being the highest again,” he said.

The sales must still be approved by the bankruptcy court at a hearing set for Dec. 23 and are expected to close by Jan. 21.

From there, the court will then have to decide how the money will be distributed. US Bank holds $36 million worth of secured mortgages on the properties, and any stake left for Jefferson could be made available to pay down his more than $9 million restitution requirement.

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Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
5 years ago

Congratulations to my competitors Motley’s and Sperry for a job well done. Two buyers have acquired tremendously well located assets that require a lot of work to restore them to their proper place on the market. I hope they will be better landlords than River City Renaissance. These properties and their communities deserve better stewardship.