Carver is sold

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005

By Allison T. Williams

A Hampton Roads attorney and religious leader with the Church of God in Christ are the new owners of Carver Memorial Cemetery Park.

Richard J. Tavss, who practices law in Norfolk, and partner Bishop Ted Thomas, pastor of Church of God in Christ in Portsmouth who oversees the operation of about 50 churches, made their winning bid of $325,000 during Tuesday’s on-site auction.

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DD&B Carver Cemetery LLC, the company that has owned the beleaguered East Washington Street cemetery since May 2004, will close with the new owners within the next 30 days, said Roy Black, a spokesman for Interstate Auctions of Virginia.

With the 10 percent buyer’s premium, Tavss and Thomas will be paying $357,500 for the site.

The property includes the original cemetery, which has approximately 850 plots remaining, and an adjacent 15-acre parcel earmarked for the graveyard’s expansion. A memorial trust of $385,000 for perpetual care will also convey with the property.

&uot;We saw the property and thought it had potential,&uot; said Tavss. &uot;We feel like we can make improvements that will make the city and the people with loved ones buried there proud.

&uot;We feel like it’s a win-win situation,&uot; he continued. &uot;We intend to spend some significant money on improvements.&uot;

Their plan calls for landscaping and paving the roads within the cemetery.

Although about three dozen people showed up for the auction, Tavss, Thomas and Norfolk funeral home owner Carlos Howard were the only two serious bidders. After 30 minutes volleying back and forth, bids-which started at $200,000-finally peaked with Tavss’ and Thomas’ offer.

Howard, who stopped bidding at $320,000, had sentimental as well as professional reasons for wanting to acquire the property–he used to live next door.

&uot;This is all my family, people who helped nurture my life,&uot; Howard said. &uot;It’s just a shame they can’t maintain the heritage.

&uot;I hope whoever gets it maintains the integrity of what it should be.&uot;

Last week, current owners William Mann and W. Michael Robinson said they decided to sell the cemetery to get it back into the hands of a professional operator. The two bought the cemetery for about $200,000 from former owner Abraham Applewhite Sr., who was closed down by the state last year.

Efforts to reach Mann and Robinson Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Andy Prutsok contributed to this story.