Halsey Minor Sticks It to Virginia, Again

Virginia may be for lovers, but while many residents were enjoying Valentine’s Day on Monday, CNet cofounder Halsey Minor was filing for Chapter 11 – again.

At issue? Carter’s Grove, an historic, Georgian-style mansion in Williamsburg that Minor agreed to buy from Colonial Williamsburg in late 2007 for $15.3 million. After Minor failed to make two last payments totaling $3.5 million on the property — he says he refused based on damages that were never disclosed to him — the national landmark was schedule to be sold at auction on Tuesday.

Rather than let that happen, Minor shoved into bankruptcy the corporation he’d created for the property, a maneuver that has halted the process for now.

The Chapter 11 filing comes just six months after Minor put into bankruptcy Minor Family Hotels, a corporation he’d created around the Landmark Hotel, a 100-room luxury property that Minor planned to open in downtown Charlottesville in July 2009. Instead, nine months after breaking ground in 2008, Minor fired the hotel’s developer, Lee Danielson, for misrepresenting the costs involved in the hotel’s construction. (Danielson was forced to pay related damages last summer.)

Unfortunately for Charlottesville, Minor also stopped paying on a $23.6 million bank loan for the hotel’s development. In fact, he wound up suing the Atlanta-based real estate financing company that provided the loan (and that has since been seized by the FDIC) for breach of contract.

Minor lost that suit last month. Meanwhile, the hotel, pictured, remains a half-built eyesore. (The excellent C-Ville, which reports on Charlottesville news, even put together a timeline of the Landmark “tragedy.”)

Minor’s money woes in recent years have been well documented. One year ago, Fox Ridge, Minor’s long-held, 204-acre, family estate in Charlottesville was also nearly auctioned off. Minor was able to pull it out of foreclosure by purchasing its $6.52 million mortgage at the eleventh hour, but not without alleging that others were in some way responsible for the foreclosure.

Minor was also listed as California’s biggest tax delinquent last year, after failing to pay the state $13.1 million in personal income taxes. And he remains embroiled in at least eight other lawsuits.

But this week’s bankruptcy filing may have served as a sorry reminder to some in Virginia of the promise Minor held a few years ago, when he first began replanting stakes with an eye toward possibly running for governor.

Back then, the governorship didn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility. Though Minor has no shortage of detractors in Silicon Valley, his great-grandfather Colston Minor and his great-great-grandfather John Barbee Minor were both law professors at the University of Virginia. There’s even a Halsey Hall at the school, named for his mother’s family.

Indeed, in 2007, he told the Associated Press of his family’s then 142-year history in Charlottesville, saying he might permanently relocate from California to Virginia – that it kept beckoning to him.

“Life is long, and I’m young,” Minor told the AP. “My hope is definitely that I come back there.”

No doubt many wish he’d stayed in California.