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Talbot Hall Property News
News and updates about the Talbot Hall property.

Bishop Hollerith's reflection on the sale of Talbot Hall (May 22, 2015)

Dear Diocesan Family,

I am pleased to announce to all in the Episcopal Church in Southern Virginia that after a six year journey Talbot Hall has been officially sold to Talbot Hall West LLC.  As I am sure you have heard, the new owners of the property are planning on building 12 to 14 small footprint, single family homes there.  The LLC is primarily comprised of local Norfolk families who have a deep love for the area of Talbot Park and who share a commitment to the wellbeing of the property’s unique character. 

The journey that has culminated in this final sale has been, quite frankly, an arduous one.  It has demanded many hours of hard work from members of the Diocesan Property Committee, the Talbot Hall Task Force, the Standing Committee, members of the Executive Board, the diocesan staff, and our Diocesan Chancellors.  Likewise, these last six years have been punctuated by events such as intensive “Town Hall” meetings in the Talbot Park neighborhood, various meetings with city officials, and multiple court appearances by both our chancellors and the Property Committee co-chairs.  It has also been a journey that has received significant local media coverage - both accurate and inaccurate at times. Needless to say, we have come a long way in the last six years and it hasn’t always been easy or painless. 

Yet, from my perspective, I believe we have arrived exactly where we had hoped to arrive - and done so in a manner that fully reflects the initial goals and objectives set by our Diocesan Council in 2012.  We have ensured that the property will be used in a manner that is in keeping with the nature of the local neighborhood.  We have ensured that the waterfront environment of the property will be well cared for.  And we have conveyed the property with respect for the historic nature of the Manor House.  But, above all, we have accomplished these goals while still being good stewards of a very important diocesan financial asset.  The Talbot property was - from the very beginning, as a gift of the Talbot family – an asset conveyed in trust to all the people and parishes in the Episcopal Church in Southern Virginia.  To that end, in conveying the property, we have practiced healthy Christian stewardship across our entire diocese.

While selling Talbot Hall may be cause for celebration, it is also - from where I sit as your bishop - cause for grief.   The beautiful live oak trees, the expansive lawn from the Manor House, the Gunn Center and the Episcopal Residence are all places that are part of a whole host of wonderful memories shared by so many.  Talbot Hall has represented the stately, established, presence of the Episcopal Church in our part of Virginia.  It has been a symbol of faith experience for earlier generations of Episcopalians, and as such represents the Church of the past and, perhaps even for some, the Church in simpler and surer times.   To sell Talbot Hall is to lose something special, to let go of a place that possesses emotional and spiritual value.  This fact must be acknowledged by all of us.

In the years ahead, there will be those who will continue to struggle with what we have done, and those who will believe that the sale is an act of responsible stewardship.  Most of us will feel some of both, I suspect.  But, regardless, all of us will share in the same responsibility – the responsibility to answer the high calling of our Lord Jesus to follow him – to follow him into a new era of faith and mission.   With that in mind, I pray that we can now move forward – and do so with the assurance that all things can and will be made holy for those whose hearts remain fixed on him.

Faithfully,
The Rt. Rev. Holly Hollerith

 

Update from Bishop Hollerith and Chancellor Sam Webster (March 27, 2015))

Dear Diocesan Family,

We are writing to update you on recent positive developments on the sale of Talbot Hall.

In December, 2013, the Diocese and Talbot Hall West, LLC, entered into a contract for the LLC's purchase of the Diocese's Talbot Hall property. This contract honored the Diocese's three wishes: respect the surrounding neighborhood; refurbish and restore the Lafayette River shoreline along the property; and respect and honor the historic Talbot Manor House on the property. Talbot Hall West, LLC, a collection of fourteen Norfolk friends, proposed to build fourteen single-family residences harmonious with the rest of the neighborhood, refurbish and restore the Lafayette River shoreline, and arrange for refurbishment and restoration of the Manor House. Talbot Hall West then set out on the journey to obtain rezoning of the property from "institutional" to a variety of residential uses to accomplish its goal. That effort met with resistance from a group that became known as the Talbot Hall Foundation.

Notwithstanding the Civic League's approval of the proposed rezoning and project, the City Planning Commission's approval of the recommended zoning changes, and City Council's adoption of the three zoning ordinances in June, 2014, members of the Talbot Hall Foundation continued opposing the rezoning and invoked a provision of the Norfolk City Charter to petition for referendum. In February, 2015, the matter was going forward on the Talbot Hall Foundation/petitioners' referendum to repeal the zoning ordinances. The Norfolk City Council, rather than have the City go through with a special election for the referendum, announced that it would take up consideration of the repeal of the three zoning ordinances that would have allowed the residential development, preserve the shoreline, preserve the Manor House.

Through all of these political and legal proceedings, the referendum petitioners and Talbot Hall Foundation, on one hand, and Talbot Hall West, LLC, on the other hand, through the efforts of Preservation Virginia and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, negotiated and ultimately reached a compromise on the eve of the City Council meeting at which the repeal of the ordinances was to be considered. The settlement agreement outlines the steps that will be taken to obtain national state and local designation of the Manor House as a historic site, and includes protections that will assure the future of the Manor House and its view of the river. The Norfolk Circuit Court has entered an Order dismissing the referendum petition that sought to overturn the zoning of the property. The settlement agreement also allows Talbot Hall West, LLC to close on the transaction with the Diocese and proceed with its development.

The Diocese is pleased that the parties were able to come to an agreement and avoid the rancor that would have ensued in any sort of a political campaign. We pray that this project may continue on a path beneficial to all concerned, including the neighborhood, the Lafayette River shoreline, and the Manor House.

We pray that you have a blessed Holy Week and Easter.

In Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Holly Hollerith
Mr. Sam Webster, Diocesan Chancellor

 

Letter to the Editor from Diocesan Chancellor Samuel J. Webster (Published July 13, 2014 in the Virginian-Pilot)

A proposed residential development on a portion of the Talbot Hall property is a win for all.

The shoreline will be refurbished and restored; 14 moderately sized new homes will fit nicely into the surrounding neighborhood; and the former Talbot home will be restored and preserved. The city’s tax base will increase since the Diocese is a religious organization exempt from the real estate tax. The increase in traffic and other problems associated with an institutional or other large-scale development will be avoided.

Since the late-1950s, the headquarters of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia have been located along the Lafayette River on a parcel of land graciously deeded by the Talbot family. The 6.5-acre parcel currently has four structures: a commercial building containing the Diocesan offices; a residence built by the Diocese and formerly occupied by previous bishops, a currently unused conference facility; and an unoccupied farmhouse built in the early 1800’s by the Talbot family.

The offices are outdated and not centrally located within the Diocese. The cost of maintaining the four structures and the waterfront is prohibitively expensive. Continuing to spend money to maintain them diverts precious resources from the core mission and ministry of the Diocese.

In February, 2012, after much prayer and discernment, the Annual Council of the Diocese overwhelmingly adopted a resolution to explore the possible sale of the property. If there were to be a sale, however, consideration had to be given 1) to the rich history associated with the property, 2) to the environmental sensitivities of the Lafayette River shoreline and 3) to a use of the property in a way that respects the neighborhood.

The property went on the market in August of 2012, and in late December of 2013, the Diocese entered into a contract with a group of families who want to build their homes on the property.

The families are long-term city residents deeply committed to restoring the shoreline along the river and are contractually obligated to preserve the historic former Talbot home. Specifically, Harvey Lindsay has agreed to purchase the former Talbot home and has generously committed to fund its restoration and preservation through a foundation.

A condition of the purchase contract, however, is that the property needs to be rezoned from institutional to residential. The Talbot Hall Civic League favors the project. Both the Norfolk Planning Commission and City Council have voted in favor of a rezoning to permit the proposed residential use.

But the project is now in jeopardy.

Over the past four or more years, the Diocese has had conversations with a small group of zealous advocates whose initial stated preference was to preserve the former Talbot home and to oppose any development. This group has known for more than four years that the Diocese might sell the property, and the property was listed for sale for almost 18 months before a purchaser was found. While this small group had more than ample time to raise funds and develop a plan, they have never submitted a monetary offer to purchase the property from the Diocese.

Most recently, the opposition group has focused their discontent on the loss of a full panoramic or “solstice” view from the porch of the house to the river. The current proposal does preserve a direct view; it simply does not allow for a panoramic “solstice” view that the purchaser has concluded would make the development unworkable for the invested families.

While the plan preserves a river view for the house, the opponents do not believe it is panoramic enough. They are now working to overturn the City Council’s recent rezoning approval.

The opponents have filed papers with the court and are attempting to obtain signatures to put the zoning change up for a citywide vote. That vote will cost the taxpayers of Norfolk at least $40,000.

Make no mistake — the only thing a vote against the residential rezoning will do is cause the entire property to remain zoned institutional.

Keeping the institutional zoning will do nothing to preserve the former Talbot family house or the surrounding property. The Diocese would then have to look for a new buyer and will not likely find an institutional use as beneficial to the environment, to the history of the property and to the neighborhood as in the pending contract.

In addition, finding a new institutional buyer will take time. Because the Diocese has neither the mission nor the money to preserve or restore the former Talbot home, the house will continue to deteriorate. It is uninhabitable and has been subject recently to break-ins and vandalism. Its continued deterioration may make restoration economically unfeasible with potentially tragic results for the house.The leaders of the Episcopal Diocese and the families involved in the proposed contract are striving to save the former Talbot home and sustain this land and the environment that surrounds it.

Please consider all the facts before you sign a petition for a referendum.

 

Talbot Hall Property update from Bishop Hollerith (Posted June 27, 2014)

Dear Diocesan Family,

I am writing to give you an update on the status of the sale of the Talbot Hall property.  This past Tuesday, in a 6-1 vote, the Norfolk City Council upheld the recommendation of the Planning Commission to rezone the property back to residential use.  As you know, the Talbot Hall West, LLC has a contract with the Diocese to purchase the property for residential use and the preservation of the Talbot Hall Manor House.  We feel that this buyer is the perfect one for this property in that they meet all of the requirements as set forth in our Council Resolution.  Unfortunately, the closing date has had to be delayed due to the actions of the Save Talbot Hall Foundation. This opposition to the use and sale of our property is causing significant problems for our buyers and our relocation efforts.

The condition of the Talbot Hall Manor House has deteriorated considerably over the years and it is no longer in a habitable condition. It has suffered break-ins and vandalism and is in imminent danger of deteriorating beyond the point of salvage to the point where the Manor House may have to be torn down. Unfortunately, the Diocese is not in a position to continue its stewardship of the Manor House and is fearful of having to take action contrary to its fervent desire to see the Manor House preserved for future generations.

Accordingly, we were relieved that City Council saw fit to approve the rezoning of the Talbot Hall property as proposed by the Talbot Hall West families which secures the restoration and preservation of the Manor House.

Unfortunately, a group of citizens opposed to certain aspects of the rezoning plan has chosen not to accept the decision of the Civic League, the Planning Commission, City Council, and the Diocese and is pursuing a petition to overturn the rezoning. This overzealous approach, if successful, may have the opposite effect and ensure the demise of the Manor House and all that the Diocese has done to secure its preservation. These citizens' approach also jeopardizes the proposed restoration and refurbishment of over 1100 feet of Lafayette River shoreline.

Faithfully,
The Rt. Rev. Herman Hollerith, IV

 

Message from Bishop Hollerith (Posted December 17, 2013)

Dear Diocesan Family,

On behalf of the Talbot Hall Property Committee, Executive Board and Standing Committee, I am pleased to announce that the Diocese of Southern Virginia has entered into a contract for the sale of the Talbot Hall property. Subject to normal commercial contingencies, after a due diligence period, the property will be sold to Talbot Hall West, LLC.

This contract addresses all of the considerations discussed in the 2012 Council Resolution which commended the sale:

  • The historic Talbot Hall Manor House will be preserved.
  • The environment will be respected.
  • The property will be brought into conformity with the existing use of the Talbot Park neighborhood.
  • The diocesan offices will be improved and moved to a more accessible location.
  • Additional funds will become available to support the mission and ministry of the diocese.


Talbot Hall West is an ideal purchaser. The group is composed of well-known Norfolk people who will be building their own single-family dwellings. In short, the property is not being sold to a developer who would seek high density housing, or to maximize profits, but rather to a group of friends who intend to make the property their home.

I am tremendously grateful for the assistance of the Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate Group, and especially for the personal interest that Mr. Lindsay has himself taken in assuring the preservation of the historic Manor House. Their excellent work has led us to an outcome which maximizes the benefit to the diocese, the neighborhood, the environment and the historic house.

I also want to thank all of the people who have offered their time to bring us thus far: the members of the Talbot Hall Committee, the Conveyance Committee and the Relocation Committee, who have dedicated their work in memory of their friend and former chair, Bud Schoolar. I am also deeply thankful for the generosity of the Talbot family, who made the gracious gift of Talbot Hall many years ago.

Within the next few months, the diocesan Relocation Committee will be making its final recommendations regarding a new home for the diocesan staff.  The committee is narrowing down their recommendations on locations that are both appropriate and well-suited to the needs of our diocesan mission. Because of their hard work, I am confident that we will be in a new diocesan office well before the close of the sale.

Faithfully,
The Rt. Rev. Herman Hollerith IV

 

Message from Bishop Hollerith (Posted May 28, 2013)

Dear Diocesan Family,

I want to update you about an important issue in our diocese. At the recommendation of the Conveyance and Location Subcommittees of the Talbot Hall Property Committee, the Executive Board at its May 2nd meeting unanimously approved an asking figure of $4,250,000 for the Talbot Hall property.  This figure was set in consultation with Harvey Lindsay Corporate Real Estate Services, the firm retained to address the disposition of the property.

In the coming weeks, Harvey Lindsay Corporate Real Estate Services will be marketing the property through appropriate venues. In accordance with the resolution passed at Annual Council, 2012, consideration of the historic nature of the Talbot Hall manor house, preservation of the property's shoreline, and respect for the surrounding neighborhood are the values guiding this sale.

The Location Subcommittee is still exploring a future site for the administrative offices of the diocese. Harvey Lindsay Corporate Real Estate Services is assisting the subcommittee as they seek a site more accessible and appropriate to our mission and ministry.

Faithfully,
+ H. Hollerith

 

Executive Board & Standing Committee retain services of Harvey Lindsay Corporate Real Estate Services to address Talbot Hall property (Posted August 15, 2012)

The Executive Board and Standing Committee of the Diocese have retained Harvey Lindsay Corporate Real Estate Services to address the Talbot Hall property. The proposal by the Harvey Lindsay group is in three parts beginning with an emphasis on historic preservation, appraisal and ending with the marketing of the premises. The firm will also serve as a consultant in the selection of a site for the new administrative offices of the Diocese.

After thorough research and consideration, the Conveyance and Location sub-committees of the Executive Board's Property Committee recommended the engagement of Harvey Lindsay Corporate Real Estate Services. Harvey Lindsay Corporate Real Estate is a highly respected Norfolk firm that has provided real estate services to the Hampton Roads region for over 70 years. Mr. Lindsay, the company's current chairman is a long-time member of Church of the Good Shepherd in Norfolk. His relationship with the Episcopal Church in Southern Virginia uniquely qualifies his firm to handle the marketing of the property with sensitivity, understanding the special affection that the members of the Diocese and others throughout the community have come to have for the Talbot Hall property, and with a desire to honor the original gift of the Talbot family.

In accordance with the resolution passed at Annual Council, 2012, historic protection of the Talbot Hall manor house, preservation of the property's shoreline, and respect for the surrounding neighborhood will be taken into consideration. The decision regarding the disposition of the property will be made only after careful consideration by each of the more than thirty members of the Executive Board and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Southern Virginia who are committed to follow the intent of that resolution.


 

Preservation Virginia calls Talbot Hall endangered (Posted May 7, 2012)

On May 7, 2012, Preservation Virginia will issue a list of sites across the Commonwealth that face threats which would detract from their historic integrity. It is our understanding that one of the sites included on this year's list may be Talbot Hall.

If this is the case, Preservation Virginia will have made this decision without full knowledge of the facts surrounding the potential disposition of the property.

In a response to Preservation Virginia, Bishop Hollerith has made it clear that as the faithful duly-elected leaders of the Diocese of Southern Virginia consider the conveyance of the property for future use, they are being extremely careful to assure the preservation, and hopefully restoration, of the historic house. Indeed, the resolution passed at the Council of the Diocese of Southern Virginia in February specifies that the preservation of the historic house will be a primary consideration in its disposition. The decision regarding the disposition of the property will be made only after careful consideration by each of the more than thirty members of the Executive Board and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Southern Virginia who are committed to follow the intent of that resolution.

The 34,000 people of the Diocese of Southern Virginia have been good and faithful stewards of the Talbot Hall manor house within the limits of our financial ability for more than 50 years. It is our intent to be nothing less than good and faithful stewards of this house as we consider its future disposition.

 

Council passes Resolution R-3 (Posted February 12, 2012)

The Executive Board and Standing Committees submitted a resolution to the 120th Annual Council seeking the support of their already existing canonical authority to make decisions about Talbot Hall and the possible relocation of our diocesan center. That resolution, R-3, was passed by Council on Saturday, February 11. The text of the resolution is available here.

 

Report from Talbot Hall Sub-committees (Posted January 6, 2012)

The Talbot Hall Property sub-committees (Conveyance Committee and Location Committee) held a joint meeting on January 5. The committees are engaged in continuing the process of discerning the future of the Talbot Hall property and the location of the diocesan offices.

What’s happened so far?

In April 2011, the Talbot Hall Task Force - charged by the diocesan Property Committee and Bishop Hollerith to receive and recommend proposals regarding the property - concluded its work and made its report to the diocesan Property Committee. After reviewing that report, along with prior property assessments, the Properties Committee voted to recommend to the Executive Board the sale of the Talbot Hall property and the relocation of the diocesan offices to a more demographically central location. This recommendation was presented at the Executive Board's June 2011 meeting.

In response, an ad hoc committee of the Executive Board was then appointed to determine what further information was needed in order to move forward. The committee reported its findings to the Executive Board at its September 2011 meeting. The following resolution was approved: "Be It Resolved that the Executive Board authorizes the Properties Committee to explore* the sale of Talbot Hall and to explore* the most feasible location for the Diocesan Office, continuing to respect the neighbors of Talbot Hall and the history of the property." In response to the resolution, the Executive Board established two new sub-committees, a Conveyance Committee and a Location Committee, to gather further information.

The Talbot Hall Property sub-committees held an initial joint meeting on October 26, 2011. Bishop Hollerith attended this meeting of the Conveyance and Location sub-committees and gave an overview of the historic functions of the Talbot Hall property, in this order of priority: to supply the administrative offices; to provide housing for the Bishop and one staff person; and to provide a diocesan conference center. The sub-committees were charged to gather information and make recommendations to the Executive Board regarding how these needs can best be met.

Where are we in the process?

The committees are now in the process of gathering information. In order to move forward, the Executive Board and Standing Committees have submitted a resolution to the 120th Annual Council which seeks support of their already existing canonical authority to make decisions about Talbot Hall and the possible relocation of our diocesan center. The full text of the resolution will be available in the delegate packets distributed prior to Pre-Council Convocation meetings.

*Exploring the possible sale of the property will include inquiries into: cost effectiveness, cost comparisons, diocesan demographics, possible locations - including the present location at Talbot Hall, facility use requirements, input from various regions of the Diocese, and other data.
 

Last Published: August 19, 2015 9:22 AM