A Goochland County mansion is a step closer to becoming the region’s newest event venue.
Following an hours-long public hearing this month that went past midnight and delayed a deciding vote, county supervisors last week unanimously approved a conditional-use permit to turn River Run Manor – the 16,000-square-foot former Massey family mansion – into a wedding and event venue and winery.
The new use is driven by two married couples who are under contract to purchase the 60-acre riverside estate: Doug and Tamra Adams, who host weddings at their Goochland-based Adams International School, and Andrew and Kim Moody, who own wedding-planning company Kim Moody Design and would reside at the venue, to be called “The Estate at River Run.”
While the permit clears a regulatory hurdle, another matter remains to be resolved before the new use could go forward, relating to a recently discovered covenant on the deed that restricts a home-based business from operating out of the house.
Kim Moody said the property was believed to have been released from the restriction when the Masseys built the house in the 1980s, but the covenant showed up on a title search and was brought to their attention by a neighboring property owner.
A meeting with neighbors who have a say over the covenant was held last week, and Moody said they’re waiting to hear if the neighbors sign off on a change to the document.
“It’s between them and the current owners, so we just have to wait,” Moody said. “The attorneys are doing the title work, and we hope to close later this month.”
Of the permit approval, Moody added: “They genuinely listened to the concerns of the constituents, and we’ve made concessions to try and be good neighbors and make everybody comfortable. I’m from a rural area as well and would have the same concerns as our neighbors do, so we’re empathetic to that and we want to be great neighbors to them.”
The permit approval comes with several conditions that were hammered out since the hearing, in which the board heard from 20 speakers who were evenly split in support or opposition of the plan. Among the concerns that opponents voiced in the hearing were the number of events allowable per year, event hours and noise impacts.
The conditions limit the number of events that can be held at the venue to 40 per year, with no more than 299 guests allowed per event. Up to two related accessory events of no more than 85 guests are allowed if the larger event is booked over three consecutive days.
Event activity is limited to between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. all other days. Amplified sound is allowable outdoors for only six of the 40 events per year, and only within a four-hour period that ends before 10 p.m. Wedding ceremonies also can use amplified sound.
The conditions also call for a minimum of 75 parking spaces and an overflow lot to be designated on a development plan. Fireworks are prohibited. An event booking schedule must be supplied to the county annually, and a traffic impact analysis is required after a year. The permit is good for a period of five years and would need to be renewed.
The number of events allowable per year falls in line with the roughly three dozen wedding events that the group has said it expects to book. At a community meeting with neighboring property owners and county residents in June, Kim Moody said they also would like to host charity events and corporate functions in the off-season. Short-term rentals separate from events also are planned.
The group also is in talks with Philip Carter Winery of Fauquier County to open a tasting room and, eventually, a vineyard on part of the property. The tasting room would be located in the lower level of the house, with a setup in the property’s pool house as well.
The permit approved this week does not address the winery use, which is allowed by-right and would be regulated by county ordinances already on the books. Winery CEO Philip Carter Strother has said he would likely open the tasting room daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and to 10 or 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
It’s unclear when either use would get going on the property, and a development plan is required before site preparations could get underway. Pending a decision on the covenant, Moody said they would like to start hosting events by December, with weddings and the winery starting in the spring.
“I think we came to a determination that works for pretty much everybody that’s involved,” Moody said of the conditions. “There’s still a couple of concerns, but obviously at a neighborly level we hope to be able to handle those.”
Five years on the market
The Moodys and the Adamses put an offer on the property in June though an LLC named after the manor. County property records did not reflect a sale as of Wednesday.
The hillside estate overlooking the James River most recently was priced at $3 million. The latest county assessment valued the property at $5.28 million.
The property for years was the priciest residential listing in the Richmond market. It originally hit the market in 2014 with a price tag of $7.9 million and, despite several price reductions through the years, remained the highest-priced listing until 2018, when The Steele Group | Sotheby’s International Realty took over the listing.
Totaling eight bedrooms and 11½ bathrooms, the Georgian Revival-style home was built in the 1980s by the late William B. Massey, a longtime coal executive whose grandfather founded A.T. Massey Coal Co., more recently known as Massey Energy. William B. Massey died in 2014, and the property is now owned by his four children.