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Banbury Cross co-owner, partner file for bankruptcy amid foreclose of 600 acres in Middleburg

One of the pieces of the more than 600 acres of the Traveller’s Rest property in the foreclosure process.
Traveller’s Rest, LLC, a company jointly owned by Banbury Cross Polo Field co-owner Nelson Gunnell and Alfred Rogers Smithwick, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Virginia on Thursday.

The bankruptcy comes as more than 600 acres in Middleburg owned by Traveller’s Rest was in the process of foreclosure.

Five parcels totaling more than 616 acres of the property had been scheduled to be auctioned on the Loudoun County courthouse grounds today for a minimum bid of $5 million.

On the courthouse grounds Friday, attorney David Culbert of Leesburg-based law firm Culbert & Schmitt, representing the substitute trustee of the property, said the auction had been called off. He declined to provide any further information.

According to court documents, nine creditors are listed as those that have the 20 largest unsecured claims toward Traveller's Rest. Those nine creditors list more than $401,000 in unsecured claims, which include unpaid legal fees, services rendered, unpaid real estate tax and a deposit for land.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy typically allows a struggling business or corporation to put forth a plan of reorganization to maintain its business and pay creditors. Filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy suspends all judgments, collections activities, foreclosures, and repossessions of property are suspended and cannot be pursued by the creditors on any debt or claim that occurred before the bankruptcy filing.

Once the chapter 11 bankruptcy petition is filed, the company has 120 day period where it has exclusive rights to file a reorganization plan. Another 180 days is then granted after the chapter 11 bankruptcy petition is filed for creditors to accept the company’s reorganization plan.

Ahead the announcement of the foreclosure, Gunnell told the Times-Mirror in May about his plans to add a new sporting clubhouse and 40-room country inn on his polo field that sits on a 62-acre property next to the Traveller’s Rest property.

However, the potential foreclosure and bankruptcy may impact those plans. Neither Gunnell nor his lawyer, Jeffrey Martin Jr., could immediately be reached for comment.

Prior to that plan, a detailed outline for a 120-room inn and sporting club on Gunnell’s polo field was circulated on social media, which caused outrage in the Middleburg community.

But Gunnell told the Times-Mirror he had since abandoned the 120-room inn and sporting club idea and planned to submit a formal proposal for the more scaled back plan within the next three months.

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