Rolph and Danielson Split Up

Developers Colin Rolph and Lee Danielson, owners of D&R Development, are breaking up, WINA reports. The two are most well known for the creation of the downtown Ice Park, the Regal theatre and the 2nd Street crossing. The two had a rather public fight via the Daily Progress a few months ago, and it has led to a court-appointed attorney supervising the company’s break-up. Danielson has reportedly left town, and is now back in California. 10:01am Update: I just noticed that Jake Mooney has a big ol’ article about this in today’s Progress.

13 thoughts on “Rolph and Danielson Split Up”


    Daily Progress staff writer

    Lee Danielson and Colin Rolph, two of the developers credited with sparking the economic boom on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall, are dissolving their jointly owned company, D&R Development.

    A court-appointed receiver is overseeing the assessment and sale of the company’s properties, which include the Charlottesville Ice Park, the Regal Cinemas movie theater and six other downtown buildings, including four that stand vacant near the middle of the mall.

    Danielson, Rolph and any other interested parties will have a chance to buy the buildings as part of the dissolution process.

    Rolph declined to comment Thursday on the split, which follows months of sometimes-public disagreements between the partners about the future of the company. Danielson, who divides his time between Los Angeles and Charlottesville, could not be reached.

    Most others involved with the split were similarly tight-lipped. Only Pam Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman for court-appointed receiver Gaylon Beights, would offer a characterization. “Partnerships are like any other relationship,” she said. “Sometimes their time has come, and in this case the time had come.”

    In February, an Albemarle County Circuit Court judge turned management of the company’s holdings over to Beights, an Albemarle County developer and the father of former D&R employee and sometimes spokesman Justin Beights. Neither Beights could be reached for comment.

    The appointment of the receiver was just the latest milestone in an ongoing dispute between Danielson and Rolph, who in their decade of partnership were among the first developers to invest large sums in new construction during the mall’s recent renaissance.

    In July, the two clashed over the future of the ice park, with Danielson calling it a financial drain that should be shut down even as Rolph vowed to preserve what he called an asset to the community.

    In separate interviews at the time, the two lobbed personal shots at each other, with Rolph charging, “Lee is basically not part of Charlottesville anymore. … He lives in California.”

    Danielson had his own take on the differences between Rolph and himself. “One has real estate experience, the other doesn’t,” he said.

    It was unclear Thursday whether either man was interested in buying any of the company’s properties for himself. Also uncertain was the future of the buildings at 101, 105, 107 and 111 E. Main St., which Danielson and Rolph once had hoped to tear down to build a retail, residential and office building.

    Citing the structures’ historic significance, the City Council voted in September 2000 to allow demolition of only one building and parts of two others, leading the developers to charge that the city had bowed to preservationist special interest groups.

    D&R representatives have said in the year-and-a-half since that new plans for the property were in the works. Fitzgerald, Gaylon Beights’ spokeswoman, said Thursday that it is too soon to say what will become of the buildings, which remain empty and boarded-up.

    “It’s so early in the process right now,” she said. “The receiver really is just now sitting down and beginning to assess where those properties are in the marketplace.”

    Beights, she said, will seek to dispose of all D&R’s properties in a way that best serves the company’s interests. There is no deadline for the sales to be complete, and Beights will report back to the court as he progresses, Fitzgerald said.

    “We want to be clear that this is an orderly process,” she said. “It is not in any way a process that’s going to be over next week, before you know it.”

  2. They say that breakin’ up is hard to do;

    now I know, I know that it’s true.

    Don’t say that this is the end.

    Instead of breakin’ up

    I wish that we were makin’ up again…

  3. I just checked my personal C-ville archive, and have this to say: Liar, liar, pants on fire.

  4. I sure hope the City somehow indemnified themselves against the possibility of these jerks leaving that block of Main Street buildings abandoned.

    If not, I suppose now we’ll be treated to years of abandoned, decaying, uninhabitable structures gracing our jewel of an “Historic” Downtown Mall.

    Jeeze – even Stevie Wonder saw this scenario coming. Since both the breakup and the resulting damage were probably inevitable, I guess sooner is better than later.

  5. Here’s hoping the City purchases the Ice Rink and converts it into a convention center. The size is appropriate, it’s next to the Omni, and it will generate revenue the Ice Park could only fantasize about. In fact, it could result in a soft money windfall for Charlottesville.


    Daily Progress staff writer

    As news of the split between developers Lee Danielson and Colin Rolph spreads, the future of the pair’s eight downtown Charlottesville buildings is drawing intense interest from potential buyers, concerned city leaders and Danielson himself.

    The buildings’ fate is in the hands of Gaylon Beights, an Albemarle County developer appointed by a judge to evaluate and sell off the Charlottesville Ice Park and seven other properties that the developers own jointly through D&R Development and several other corporations.

    There have been five or six inquiries for the ice park alone, including two offers to buy the building, Beights said Monday. The other properties, which include the Regal Cinemas movie theater and four empty buildings near the middle of the Downtown Mall, have drawn “lots and lots of inquiries,” he said.

    “I’m going to have to hire a secretary,” Beights said. “My phone is about to ring off the wall. Everybody wants to know what’s for sale and what price and what’s going on.”

    Albemarle County Circuit Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. has given Beights until March 29 to recommend what should be done with the ice park, which court records indicate has lost large sums of money. No such deadline exists for the other buildings.

    Both Danielson and Rolph will have the opportunity to buy the buildings as part of the dissolution of their corporations, Beights said. He stressed, though, that his mission is to get the most money he can for the properties, whether that money comes from the current owners or not.

    “They don’t get any preference,” he said. “No one gets any preference. Only the highest and best offer.”

    Danielson said Monday, though, that he is interested in buying back and redeveloping the four long-vacant buildings at 101, 105, 107 and 111 E. Main St. He blamed the years-long delay in work on the structures on his and Rolph’s falling-out. Rolph has declined to comment, citing the ongoing legal proceedings.

    Danielson also sought, in a phone call from Los Angeles, to counter perceptions that his days of Charlottesville development are over. He said he spends five to seven days a month in Virginia, and noted that many other developers — including Alan Cadgene, partner of Gabe Silverman — live outside the area.

    “I’m hardly done,” Danielson said. “Downtown is something I got in right from the get-go, and I started long before Colin ever got to Charlottesville. … I have a home in Charlottesville and I am absolutely committed, but I have other personal reasons why I’m here in California — namely, my wife, who likes California.”

    Danielson said his vision for the empty Downtown Mall buildings involves a mix of uses, including condominiums.

    After buying the buildings in October 1999, Danielson and Rolph had hoped to demolish the four buildings to make room for offices, apartments, stores and underground parking. When the City Council voted almost a year later to allow demolition of only one building and parts of two others, the developers charged that city government had bowed to preservationist special interest groups.

    On Monday, though, Danielson brushed aside his history of contentious relations with local government. “I’m totally satisfied with our situation with the city,” he said.

    City leaders, meanwhile, said they were open to the possibility of renewed relations with Danielson — or anyone else who buys the buildings.

    “It just irritates people when you get badmouthed in the newspaper,” Mayor Blake Caravati said of previous clashes with Danielson. “But we want the things redeveloped, so we’ll work with any owner.”

    Councilor Maurice Cox, who strongly opposed the plan to level the four buildings, said a new project there would take a creative developer who can work in the context of downtown’s historic district. That developer, he said, could be Danielson.

    “In the end, Lee Danielson’s vision for the west end of the mall turned out to be successful,” Cox said, “so I think he has a lot more credibility in this community than when he first started to develop here.”

    Cox added, though, that he expects strong interest in the properties. The city tax assessor’s office found this year that property values in the North Downtown neighborhood rose an average of 15 percent in 2001.

    “There’s a really vigorous investment climate in downtown right now, so the timing for those buildings to come forward couldn’t be better,” Cox said.

    City government is keeping a close eye on the four buildings, together valued at more than $1.58 million. Aubrey V. Watts Jr., Charlottesville’s economic development director, planned to meet today with Beights.

    Watts noted, though, that there is little the city can do but watch the process unfold.

    “I don’t think we’ll have a say in the sale of private property,” he said. “If I wanted to sell my house, the city doesn’t get in there.”

    Still, Caravati said, there’s something about the sale of eight downtown properties, including the solid half-block the empty buildings represent, that makes for fascinating viewing.

    “It’s not only the city,” he said. “I think every merchant downtown is interested in it. This is a big deal for downtown. … This is important because it’s so big — or, could be so big.”

  7. Please read the last two paragraphs of Fishbowl “Erector Set…Three guys walk into a BAR,” in the February 26 issue.

  8. I don’t have it sitting around. But if C-ville buried this very big, very important news story in the last two graphs of a Fishbowl story, well then damn, they’re dumber than I thought.

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