The former West End home of imprisoned developer Justin French was sold at a foreclosure auction Wednesday for $1.5 million.
The 10,000-square-foot, Georgian-style mansion at 330 Oak Lane was sold to a corporation called H. E. Leasing, which was one of at least four bidders vying for the property.
Steve Wilkinson, a CPA from Danville, bid on the property as the company’s agent. He declined to discuss the company’s plans for the property but said neighbors “will be very happy.”
“Their intention is to make it a real asset for the city of Richmond,” he said. “A historical asset, as it should be.”
The property had been on and off the auction block since 2011, when French was sent to federal prison for a massive real estate tax credit scheme. Several foreclosure auctions were attempted over that time, the most recent of which was scheduled in May but was called off in the weeks leading up to it.
Today’s auction was handled by BWW Law Group on behalf of Arlington-based Equity Trustees LLC, which was appointed as a substitute trustee in March. Bayview Loan Servicing was the servicer on the loan, which totaled $1.45 million.
Bidding at today’s auction started with a written one-price bid by trustee Bank of New York Mellon for $743,750. Over the course of several minutes, the bidding came down to Wilkinson, who held a phone up to his ear, and Richard and Julia Rose, a retired couple from Fluvanna County.
The Roses made a bid for $1.2 million but bowed out with Wilkinson’s winning bid. Julia Rose said she and her husband are natives of Richmond and were interested in acquiring and restoring the home.
“We heard it was on the auction block and then taken off,” Julia Rose said. “I would have enjoyed the project.”
The eight-bedroom, 7½-bathroom mansion was built in 1919 for Abram McClellan, a Richmond businessman. It was designed by Duncan Lee, a well-known Richmond architect of the time, and later served as the home of Douglas Southall Freeman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and onetime editor of the former Richmond News Leader.
The 2-acre property is located in the Hampton Gardens neighborhood off Patterson Avenue, near its intersection with Willow Lawn Drive. French and his wife Tanya purchased the home in 2003 for $1.76 million.
French is scheduled to be released from prison in 2027 after a 16-year sentence.