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The billionaire behind Dallas-based real estate developer Crow Holdings can add a new title to his resume: landlord of the mother of a U.S. Supreme Court justice.
After purchasing three properties from Justice Clarence Thomas in 2014, the company’s chairman and former CEO Harlan Crow has since poured tens of thousands of dollars into improvements at the home where Thomas’s mother still lives in Savannah, Georgia, including a new car port and repairs to the roof, fence and gates, according to a report this week from ProPublica.
Crow, who told the publication he plans to someday establish a museum at the property, said these improvements were made “to preserve its long-term viability and accessibility” to the public.
“My intention is to one day create a public museum at the Thomas home dedicated to telling the story of our nation’s second black Supreme Court Justice,” Crow said in a statement to ProPublica. “I approached the Thomas family about my desire to maintain this historic site so future generations could learn about the inspiring life of one of our greatest Americans.”
Thomas did not disclose the $133,363 sale of his mother’s home and two vacant properties that he owned down the street, ProPublica reports. Justices and other officials are required by law to report real estate deals over $1,000, four ethics experts told the publication.
Through a newly formed company — Savannah Historic Developments LLC — Crow purchased the Thomas properties and began to remake the block, the report states. He later acquired the home next door to where Thomas’s mother lives — which had been the site of noisy parties, the president of a nearby neighborhood association said — and tore it down.
“It was an eyesore,” W. John Mitchell, the nearby resident, told ProPublica. “One day miraculously all of them were put out of there and they scraped it off the earth.”
Crow said in his statement that his company demolished homes on the block for “health and safety” reasons after they fell into disrepair. The company built one new home on the block and made it available to a police officer, he added.
Crow’s company maintains ownership of the home in which Thomas’s mother lives. He did not respond to questions from ProPublica about whether he charges her rent to live there.
The other two lots he acquired from the Thomas family were sold to a builder, Crow said in the statement.
These details of a financial transaction between Thomas and Crow followed news last week that the Supreme Court justice had accepted luxury travel from the developer and GOP donor nearly every year for decades. Crow had hosted Thomas on his private jet, his yacht, his private resort in the Adirondack mountains, and on international cruises.
Thomas did not respond to requests for comment from ProPublica.