TrvlnMn writes of Oliver Kuttner’s nine-story hotel proposal:
Kuttner opts to make money, chooses hotel option. Proves he was just paying “lip service” to the affordable housing issue. Perhaps the token gesture greased the wheels for BAR approval.
He had proposed building affordable housing, right on the Downtown Mall, but now it’s looking more like the nine-story hotel originally proposed by Lee Danielson some years ago.
15 thoughts on “Kuttner Revives Danielson Hotel Plan”
Somehow I mind it less coming from Oliver Kuttner than I did from Lee Danielson.
At the end of the day the Downtown Mall is clearly lost to locals. While there is far more foot traffic and business here than there was 10 years ago it’s no longer really livable. Gone are businesses like Woolworth’s, A&N and the NAPA autoparts store. You can’t buy a gallon of milk or a pair of jeans here. There’s no laundrymat, no shoe store.
It’s a bunch of art galleries and expensive restaraunts. That’s great, but we can’t eat art or buy groceries from ‘Blue Light’ or whatever place happens to be the pretentious, $15 martini, crap-box du jour.
Thank God that we do still have some street musicians and homeless people hanging around to at least remind the yuppies and the tourists that there is in fact a real world out there involving people of various socio-economic classes. We ought to keep section 8 housing within a stones throw of the bricks one way or another just to shove the realities of minimum wage in everyone’s face on a daily basis. Someone should be asking me for a dollar every time I walk from my office over to Christian’s for a slice of designer pizza.
This Downtown Mall is a little fairyland for tourists and yuppies now. Hell, *I’m* arguably a yuppie now so I’ve got little room to gripe. Go ahead, build a 9 story hotel. So what? We might as well make some money here, right? Oliver’s been a man about town ever since I can remember. He’s built some good stuff. I love that place he built on top of the old Woolworth’s building. He’s got as much right to cash in and change the landscape as anyone. I wish him well.
A site on the downtown mall is not a cheap purchase. To have built affordable housing here would have been a charitable donation on Kuttner’s part – certainly applauded, but not expected. A real estate developer is in the business of making profitable investments. Affordable housing is never as profitable as doing a high-end project unless there is some serious tax forgiveness or subsidy involved – programs that we don’t have here. If Charlottesville were seriously concerned about affordable housing, they would tackle this type of program at the municipal level. Sitting around hoping for developers to forgo earning a living and give away housing doesn’t’ sound like a proper affordable housing strategy to me.
I don’t get paid like a yuppie, but I do enjoy the yuppie pleasures of the mall. I’m sorry for the 20 people who would have been lucky enough to get below market rent and the best location in town, but for yuppie pleasure few things could be better than upscale hotel. More wealthy tourists downtown mean more restaurants, more shows, more people, more copper clad buildings, more of what makes the mall great.
Actually, you (and I) are probably closer to…uh…yurpies. YoUng Rural Professionals. Ain’t nothing urban on our road.
Jack, from the article it looks like Kuttner would actually be selling it back to Lee. Strange, but in the end it will be Lee’s project after all.
If Lee Danielson gets back into the picture, I predict trouble for this project. While Oliver Kuttner may have his own ways of doing things and can sometimes run into conflict with city authorities, I don’t think anybody doubts his commitment to good design and to the community. I’m afraid that Mr. Danielson’s arrogance and bullying tactics have long ago worn out their welcome in Charlottesville.
That is a good point, Harry. I wonder if that is why he wanted Kuttner to go before the BAR.
I wish there was some way to get a report on the BAR meetings without having to sit through them. It looks like they don’t put the video on the city website and the minutes are always several months behind. According to the city website the folks who want to put a CVS on corner of Ridge and Main were on the agenda. What did they have to say for themselves? Bill Atwood was supposed to talk about “The Village at Waterhouse,” new construction where La Cucina is now. What is that about?
The city plans to make BAR video available online, but, as you point out, they haven’t gotten around to doing it yet. Here’s hoping they start doing that before too long.
A few years, a group of local zero-media-profile investors looked at building a boutique hotel on West Main. It was going to be a nice place, and it’s purpose was to provide tourists/visiting alumnae/university guests who routinely stay in $300 – $500 night hotels elsewhere a nice alternative to what currently constitutes high end in cville – the omni and keswick. But the “what can go wrong” list had too many opportunities for local government (BAR,council) to interfere and cost serious time and money, and the idea was abandoned. Still, I would love to see a place like this in cville, and most likely will admire whomever takes on the city to get it done.
No it’s not cheap and I certainly didn’t expect him to build affordable housing. I predicted otherwise. I don’t have a problem with someone making a buck.
I do take issue with the disingenuous nature of his offer. I seriously doubt he ever had any intentions of using the site for affordable housing when he dropped that bombshell on the Cville Weekly reporter last month.
However with a few comments he got great publicity for a week or so, painted himself as a caring, concerned, and beneficent businessman who favors liberal causes, and was publicly applauded for it. He made himself appear less threatening, then if he’d simply said “I want to put up an ultra-expensive hotel on the downtown mall and make loads of money.” By doing that I believe his comments to Cville Weekly lowered the resistance level to his hotel plans.
Go ahead make a profit just don’t try to pretend you’re being a humanitarian in the process.
And the Daily Progress missed an opportunity to do real reporting by not following up and asking him about what he said a month earlier to the C-ville weekly. Which is an example of why it’s difficult for me take them seriously as a news outlet.
The Charlottesville Businessman’s Pledge-
I do hereby affirm
to the powers that be
of the City of Charlottesville.
That if you allow me
to make large profits
and enrich myself
I will support and promote
if not by actions.
At any given time, I don’t think Oliver has any idea of what he’s going to do. He’s mercurial, prone to unusual decision, and I get the sense that he’s unpredictable to himself as to others. Remember in 2005, when he declared he was done developing downtown? There’s no reason to think that he was lying — he probably just changed his mind. Likewise, I suspect his claim that he was considering developing affordable housing was probably true at the time that he made it.
Though it’s possible he was lying, it’s considerably more likely that he simply changed his mind. In the same article in which he pitched his affordable housing concept he also proposed putting a Porche dealership on the site. Is he going to do that? I say there’s a 99% chance that he won’t. But if he doesn’t, that doesn’t mean he was lying. That’s just Oliver being Oliver.
I actually don’t remember that. But point taken. I’ll bow to your familiarity with him. All I had to go on was what I read in the papers, and my own perception of it.
“A few years, a group of local zero-media-profile investors looked at building a boutique hotel on West Main.”
The large number of prostitutes working West Main a few years ago may have had something to do with their decision as well.
Heh…well, having met both, only in passing, I suppose it is true that Kuttner is less grating, but only slightly.
I remember when Kuttner said he was finished developing downtown, after the city got on him about the Coal Tower and the condo project; but I would imagine that was just a fit of pique now worn off.
Danielson is a real crook and I thought we were done with him; he’s finished down in Miami, largely because of pulling the same kinds of BS stunts, leaving other people holding the bag for his disastrous plans.
Speaking of “Charlottesville Businessmen” enriching themselves: how’s the Omni occupancy doing these days? City taxpayers were saddled with that fiasco for years; can the mall really support another high-end hotel? The two Marriot properties on West main seem to be doing well enough, but one wonders if real demand for that many more high-end rooms exists, excepting Graduation weekend.
I wonder if Kuttner figured out there was no way to make his project viable, and there was a clause indicating that Danielson had to buy it back if it fell through.
A high end hotel IS affordable housing… if you are Oliver Kuttner.
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