VT Buys Former NBHS Building

Foundation May Market Site

The former Natural Bridge High School property was purchased last month by the Virginia Tech Foundation.

A deed of bargain and sale was recorded in Rockbridge Circuit Court on Dec. 23 for a real estate transfer of 16.671 acres from Stonebridge Properties LLC to Virginia Tech Foundation Inc. for $300,000.

In an e-mail exchange on Monday, Scott Sayre, who formed Stonebridge Properties shortly after acquiring the former NBHS from Rockbridge County in 2011, said, “I have no other details to add” to last month’s transaction other than he first offered the property to Dabney S. Lancaster Community College and then Liberty University before turning to the VT Foundation.

DSLCC President John Rainone, said Sayre, toured the facilities twice before declining an offer of the property. Sayre said he subsequently offered to donate the property to Liberty University but LU failed to respond. “We then approached Virginia Tech and they now own the Stonebridge Center.”

Carrie Woodring of the VT Foundation said Tuesday no firm plans have been made for the property, though she indicated it was likely the property would be marketed for sale, rather than used by Virginia Tech.

The property, assessed at $2,638,800, had a tax bill of $19,263.24 that was paid last year. Commissioner of Revenue David Whitesell said the property, under the ownership of the VT Foundation, is now tax exempt. The VT Foundation, he pointed out, also owns McCormick Farm and pays no taxes on it.

Stonebridge Center encompasses a 1939-era core school building, a vo-tech addition, a stand-alone gymnasium that was built in 1980 and a football field. NBHS closed in 1992 when consolidation of three local high schools led to the opening of Rockbridge County High School. For a while after that, the former NBHS gym and football field were used by local youth sports teams.

Des Champs Laboratories acquired the old NBHS for its company headquarters in 1997. Nicolas Des Champs, owner of the company, donated the property to the county in 2008.

Sayre acquired the property in 2011 for $10 and a performance agreement that required him to make certain improvements and maintain a labor force of at least 20 employees for one year. The county certified the completion of the performance agreement in 2013.

When the county disinvested itself of the property, it was estimated that the bill for repairs, maintenance and utilities stood at about $70,000 annually. As part of the transaction that transferred the property, Sayre and the county agreed to split the costs of $108,000 for a new roof.

Among the various uses that have taken place at Stonebridge Center are business offices for Sayre Enterprises, a catering company and an environmental remediation service. The gym was used as a skating rink for a time and a local church held services in the former vo-tech addition.

The News-Gazette

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