NVCT and NOVA Parks make offer on River Farm

NVCT and NOVA Parks make offer on River Farm
Photo/Cody Mello-Klein NOVA Parks' offer on River Farm would involve payments made over a few years with interest.

By Cody Mello-Klein | cmelloklein@alextimes.com

Local nonprofit Northern Virginia Conservation Trust and regional parks organization NOVA Parks jointly submitted an offer to purchase the historic River Farm property on Monday.

The offer submitted by NVCT and NOVA Parks proposes paying a “fair market value” for the property over the course of a few years with interest, Alan Rowsome, executive director of NVCT, said.

“We hope, and we think, that it’s attractive in the sense that you know that you’re going to have a steady stream of income related to the purchase of this property for three, four, five years down the road,” Rowsome said.

The American Horticultural Society, which currently owns the property, placed the 27-acre estate at 7931 E. Boulevard Drive on the open real estate market on Nov. 13, listing it at $32.9 million and citing the financial challenges of upkeep as the reason for the sale. In December, AHS announced it would start reviewing offers on the property on Jan. 4. Around the same time NVCT kickstarted its Save River Farm campaign with the goal of raising $1 million to present a viable public offer by Jan. 4.

The offer submitted on Monday provides flexibility on who the owner, or owners, can be if AHS accepts the bid, however Rowsome specifically cited NVCT, NOVA Parks and Fairfax County as the most likely options. Considering AHS has cited the financial drain of managing the property as its primary motivation for selling River Farm, the offer also proposes a way of transitioning management duties away from AHS as soon as April.

“One of the public sector entities, NOVA Parks or Fairfax [County], would be willing to take over onsite property management of River Farm on April 1 of this year, meaning AHS now has an opportunity, if they accept this offer, to be out from under River Farm and its management costs by April 1,” Rowsome said.

In case AHS desires funding sooner rather than later, NVCT and NOVA Parks also have included in the offer plans for a conservation easement which “likely would bring several million dollars’ worth of funds to AHS very quickly,” Rowsome said.

Although the community’s support of the Save River Farm campaign has been significant, Rowsome said that NVCT needs to continue raising funds – about $50,000 to $75,000 – in order to meet its April 1 goal.

Donations to the Save River Farm campaign can be made at www.saveriverfarm.com.