In a suit filed Tuesday (May 20) in Rappahannock County Circuit Court, Stonyman Gourmet’s Alan and Susan James are asking the owners of the property they lease on Washington’s Gay Street to honor a 2011 oral agreement they made to extend the lease to April 30, 2016.
The agreement, the Jameses claim, was made before their original 2008 lease for their cafe and catering operation and adjacent landscaped gardens expired in April of 2011. The suit also alleges that Sunny View (an LLC owned by former Sunnyside Farm owner David Cole and local agent Jimmie DeBergh) breached a second oral agreement — a right of first refusal for Stonyman to purchase the property should it come up for sale.
Given until May 31 to vacate, the Jameses are seeking a temporary injunction on the impending sale of the property — to the Inn at Little Washington, for $550,000, according to DeBergh — and a permanent injunction to restore the terms they say Sunny View agreed to, namely their right to purchase the property. The suit states they would do so, and in fact deposited sufficient funds in a bank account in February to prove it.
The former Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) yard on Fodderstack Road at the north edge of Washington was purchased last week for $159,000 by a company called Big, Tall and Short. The LLC’s address is 1404 14th St. NW in Washington D.C. — which is also the address of Abdo Development, White Moose Inn owner Jim Abdo’s company.
The last time the three-acre, not quite riverfront tract came up on the radar was in 2010, when VDOT, having cleared the former storage yard’s status with an environmental study showing the ground was uncontaminated, offered it for sale to the town. At that time, town council member Patrick O’Connell offered a motion (which the council passed) to “send a letter to VDOT inviting them to give us the property — without obligating us to accept it.” VDOT declined the offer.