Former Cavalier Guard Bounces Between Real Estate and Hoops

Men's basketbal feature

March 5, 1998

Sometimes victory can be tougher to swallow than defeat. Just ask Andrew Boninti.

The former University of Virginia guard agreed to eat a gag worm-laced lollipop after the girls' AAU team he coaches-winless in its first two seasons-broke into the victory column in February.

Boninti said he expected the maiden triumph would go down a lot easier than the lollipop, "but a promise is a promise."

A fixture on the local hardwoods for 27 years, Boninti today is known as founder and president of Rivanna Realty and Investment Company in Charlottesville, one of Central Virginia's leading commercial real estate concerns.

"As an athlete, it was 'what courses can I take.' But after graduation, it was 'what can I sell?" joked Boninti, who was a speech major at Virginia.

It turned out that the transplanted New Yorker could sell real estate, and quite well.

After graduation in 1975, he started in the residential market before he cast an eye toward bigger deals that could provide him with more free time on weekends.

Boninti worked as president of a mid-sized Charlottesville real estate and development company for six years before founding Rivanna Realty in 1989.

Now, he has become actively involved in cost analysis, property management and valuation.

Boninti's firm handles leasing and marketing of some of Charlottesville's best-known properties, such as the 220,000-square foot Seminole Square Shopping Center and Pantops Shopping Center.

He also is founder of Primary Investment and Management Company, and Andrew Boninti, Inc.

Primary Investment's reach extends well beyond Central Virginia to projects such as a 151,000-square-foot retail center in Aberdeen, N.C. and Collegiate Square, a soon-to-be-completed office and retail complex near Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

That kind of out-of-area activity is almost a requirement for survival. "There's an impression that Charlottesville is a bigger community than it really is," Boninti said.

"But in commercial real estate, you just can't get by in an area this size unless you are doing a lot of development. You have to go to places like North Carolina to look for deals," he said.

Boninti arrived at Virginia in 1971 after a standout career at Mater Christi High School in New York City, where he was named to the Daily News' all-city team.

A guard at 6-2 and 165 pounds, Boninti averaged 16.3 points for the freshman team in 1972 before lettering from 1973-1975. He netted 18 points against North Carolina State as a sophomore and co-captained Terry Holland's first UVa team in 1975, scoring 8.7 points and tallying 72 assists.

Boninti still keeps in basketball shape. He is a regular at recreation games at University Hall and Slaughter Recreation Center, and coaches YMCA and AAU teams.

He and his wife of 24 years, Fran, have two daughters-Kendall, 17, and Caitlin, 12, the starting center on his now-victorious AAU team.

  • This story was written by Steven Johnson for Cavalier GameDay. It is reprinted with the permission of the University of Virginia Athletic Department and Virginia Sports Marketing.