After purchasing historic White’s Ferry in February 2021, Chuck and Stacy Kuhn encountered obstacles to reopening this important Potomac River crossing, considering it needed to regain use rights in Virginia. In response to the suspended service, Loudoun and Montgomery Counties conducted a study to evaluate alternatives and address issues, challenges and opportunities for restoring this important regional transportation link. Following Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors and Montgomery County Department of Transportation meetings this week to review the study, Chuck Kuhn, owner of White’s Ferry, released this statement:
“I want to express my sincere appreciation to the governments on both sides of the river for their hard work and commitment to reopening White’s Ferry. This is important for my wife Stacy and me. We live and work here and know the importance of this historic crossing. After its closure in December 2020, there was no plan to reopen the ferry. The prior owner, Herb Brown, had attempted repeatedly and unsuccessfully to work with the Rockland Farm organization to find a way to land the ferry and serve his customers in a way that made business sense. His reasonable offers weren’t accepted, and he was forced to close the business.
We purchased the ferry in hopes for a different outcome. We were under no allusions that the ferry would be a profitable venture, as recent studies captured the difficulty and costs for running the ferry. Our goal was to offer an affordable, safe product with pricing that is fair and predictable for riders while protecting a unique, historic, and valued transportation route. Unfortunately, we have encountered the same issues as the previous owner when trying to negotiate with the Rockland Farm organization, part of a portfolio of assets owned by hedge fund CEO Peter Brown, along with his minority shareholders, Libby Devlin and Harriett Dickerson.
We have made numerous offers to lease and/or purchase the landing site with no success. At their request and our cost, we had the entire Rockland Farm appraised three times to explore the possibility of purchasing the whole farm as an option for reopening the landing site. We subsequently made a $13.5 million cash offer to purchase the entire farm–which was higher than two of the proposals. There was no counteroffer and was ultimately rejected. Rockland Farm’s repeated demands for $2 million cash or 50 cents a car each way along with unacceptable deal terms made negotiations impossible. We further offered to donate the ferry and the land to the respective governments in an attempt to reopen the ferry for our region.
Instead, we have been maligned through Rockland Farm’s aggressive and misleading online and signage campaigns and insulted in public by a Rockland Farm owner…as recently as Tuesday night in front of the Loudoun County Government Center. Given the difficulty and lack of professionalism negotiating with the Rockland Farm ownership, no further negotiations with them appear possible.”
Established in 1786, the ferry remains a significant transportation route between Maryland and Virginia, carrying nearly 800 daily users when operational. White’s Ferry represents a piece of the region’s past as an early commerce route that built and sustained local economies. The Kuhns have already embarked on a number of upgrades to the ferry to bring more operational and environmental efficiencies to improve services and preserve a piece of history. More information and updates about the ferry can be found at https://www.whites-ferry.com/.
The Kuhn family seeks land acquisitions that can be sold, leased, developed, placed into conservation easement, or utilized by sister companies JK Moving Services and CapRelo, a global employee relocation and assignment management firm serving private and public sector clients. Over the past decade, they have placed more than 22,000 acres of its purchases into conservation easement, ensuring vulnerable vistas and habitats are preserved and protected for future generations. www.JKLandHoldings.net
Shawn Flaherty, 703-554-3609