‘Stalking horse’ to take reins of The Tiber

Only some progress has been made on the Tiber since this December 2015 photo.

The Tiber condo project on Libbie Avenue is marked for sale. (December 2015)

The noteholders of a long-stalled West End condo development are set to gain control of the property.

Attorney Peter Barrett, the trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of the company that owns The Tiber condo project on Libbie Avenue, said Monday he plans to submit an order to the court this week to sell the unfinished 15-unit development to Libbie Guthrie LLC. That entity is controlled by investor David Posner and builder John George, who was one of the original development partners on the project as well as its original general contractor.

An auction that had been scheduled this week for the Tiber has been cancelled, Barret said, due to a lack of additional bids other than Libbie Guthrie’s.

“We did not have another bidder so the auction has been cancelled,” Barrett said. “All the parties have been informally noticed.”

Libbie Guthrie, which owns the $6.27 million loan on the Tiber originally issued by Middleburg Bank, was the stalking horse bidder in the auction process, meaning its $2.9 million bid set the floor for additional offers.

Libbie Guthrie’s offer includes a $2.9 million credit bid, $1.8 million for condo purchasers in either cash or towards the purchase of a unit, $290,000 in cash for the estate, and about $50,000 in taxes.

Completion of the sale is subject to approval by Judge Kevin R. Huennekens. If approved, the next step in the bankruptcy proceedings would be to evaluate what other assets might be tied to Tiber Partners.

“We’ll have to evaluate what other assets can be monetized then wind up the administration of the estate,” Barrett said.

The pending sale to Libbie Guthrie marks something of a new chapter for the Tiber.

The high-end project’s delayed groundbreaking in 2013 was followed by a dispute between George and his partners Scott Boyers, Jennifer Fergusson, and Berkely Fergusson, in which George’s construction company was fired from the job.

George gained the upper hand when he teamed up with Posner to buy the loan on the Tiber and pushed for foreclosure. Purchasers of the still unfinished condo units then pushed Tiber Partners into bankruptcy, which led to the auction.

Willis Blackwood was one of the condo purchasers who had tried to push for a different direction for the Tiber. He expressed disappointment at the news that the development was set to be sold to Libbie Guthrie.

“To my knowledge most of the previous contract buyers are walking away from the building and taking their money and running,” Blackwood said. “It’s unfortunate for the buyers who wanted to be there.”

Posner of Libbie Guthrie said he did not want to comment until after the sale had been finalized.

The news that no other bids had been submitted for the Tiber was first reported by the Times-Dispatch.

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