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Windsor Farms Braces for Brouhaha



Some neighbors of the Windsor, the nearly five-acre estate of the late Quincy Cole at 4601 Lilac Lane, are up in arms that the property's new owner, Bank of America, plans to sell the property to the highest bidder in the coming weeks.

Moreover, they say, they had no idea that the Windsor Foundation, created in 1968 after Cole's death to maintain the property, had recently sold the house — which predates Windsor Farms. The property transferred to Bank of America in April.

Last week, representatives of the bank and the Windsor Foundation trust met with about a half-dozen immediate neighbors to calm their fears.

That's where versions of events get a little dicey. Two neighbors who spoke with Style said the bank's representative informed them that it was marketing the property to developers in Washington, D.C., and New York. The neighbors asked that the entire neighborhood be notified of the impending sale but were rebuffed, says Richard Mulligan, an investment banker who lives about "250 yards" from the Windsor.

"I do not believe either the foundation or the bank has been forthcoming with information about this sale to the neighbors," Mulligan says. "All we want is to assure that any development to the property be done in an appropriate manner. In my view, this would not include condominiums."

A bank spokesman says the property hasn't been marketed to anyone, nor has it been advertised for sale. The bidding process, which will be open to the public, hasn't even begun, says John Yiannacopoulos, a Bank of America spokesman.

"While it is premature to discuss the disposition of the property at this time," Yiannacopoulos says, "we would envision an open and highly competitive bidding process when it begins in the coming weeks."

The property is zoned to allow only single-family dwellings, which would exclude condominiums, city records show. And the foundation had no choice but to sell the property because the costs to maintain it had exceeded "the benefit received by the public," according to an affidavit filed in Richmond Circuit Court as part of the transfer of ownership. The property is assessed at $3.08 million.

Before he died, Cole set up the trust to care for the property, built in 1946, and to make it available to the public for "religious, scientific, educational, medical, charitable, or artistic endeavors in the City of Richmond," the affidavit says.

Cole was known for hosting public tours in his gardens, designed by the late architect Charles Gillette. On Easter Sundays, Handel's "Messiah" would play through speakers placed among the trees, according to local lore. S

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