Minor Sues Danielson Over Landmark Hotel

Halsey Minor has filed a lawsuit against Lee Danielson over the Landmark Hotel project, Will Goldsmith writes for C-Ville Weekly. Danielson was running the project for Minor, and now Minor alleges that Danielson has committed fraud and breach of contract, apparently blaming the faltering project on his former business associate. Danielson says that he’ll be suing Minor, too. Given that each guy has a history of business deals going sour, it may well take a court to figure this out. The squabble between the two has gone on for months, so this isn’t a particularly surprising outcome.

The bigger question is what’s to become of the enormous building shell, since construction stopped weeks ago, with no sign that it’ll be continuing. It has the potential to be downtown eyesore for years to come. In the meantime, though, maybe that barricade could be moved off of Water Street, opening it up to three lanes again, and that man-made pothole could be filled in with an asphalt patch?

42 thoughts on “Minor Sues Danielson Over Landmark Hotel”

  1. what a flustercuck. what ever was the final word about floor heights being too low? is their any possible way to salvage the project as office/apartments or is the shell and design too specific to hotel to easily be done?

  2. if i were a city council member, i would do my best to make sure minor and danielson never get another permit to do anything in this town again. i wouldn’t even let them buy trash stickers!

  3. How bizarre. Until things get sorted out I think they should change the name from the Landmark Hotel to the “Run-of-the-Mill Youth Hostel and Homeless Shelter.” It’s a sign o’ the times. Prince would like it.

  4. There are unfinished projects all over town. And county. Mainly residential. Don’t know if that Tyvek sheathing is meant to be tacked up outside for years at a time!

  5. Elux Troxl, yes, the best part is yet to come. The part about the city taking over the project and finishing the hotel on the taxpayer’s dime. And of course the taxpayers will be the last to know that it’s even being discussed or considered in city hall.

  6. I seriously don’t think the city would dare to do its own “bailout” of this defunct project during these tough economic times. I could be wrong, but IMHO I would be shocked if they did. I mean, even if they did, who’s going to stay in it? Who’s going to be booking the Presidential Suite? I think maybe you might see something along the lines of some other private party coming in and buying it at a court supervised fire sale, but that’s down the road a ways.

  7. This hotel was a vanity project that never made any business sense from the start. Charlottesville just can’t support a luxury hotel like this. Ask the folks at the Keswick Inn how they’re doing. Ultimately, this building will only work for somebody who walks in and buys it for 25 cents on the dollar.

    As for the two gentlemen suing each other, that can’t be a surprise to anybody. The view to this outsider is that you’ve got a couple of litigious bully-boys who like to throw their weight around and why these guys didn’t know that each other was trouble from the start is a mystery. Some people gut it out and show strength of character during tough economic times. Others blame somebody else for their problems.

  8. Dahmius, how long have you lived here? Does the name “Radisson Hotel” ring any bells? It’s called The Omni Hotel now. Ask around about it’s history and who finally footed the bill to complete it. :)

  9. The only people making money in this economy seems to be Halsey’s lawyer. Those folks are billing some serious hours and trust me those lawyers will get paid.

  10. That’s true Demo. There is precedent. All I’m saying is these are extraordinary times. But if it was back five or six years ago when annual city real estate assessments were going up 25% across the board and the city was more flush, then yeah, I’d agree and say watch out! Still though, you could be right. You never know. So yellow alert.

  11. Our current “extraordinary times”, a/k/a darn close to another great depression, didn’t prevent city administration from pissing away $7.5 million dollars on new brick for the mall. It could have waited until better times.

  12. There is no precedent. People post about this every time “hotel” is mentioned on these boards, but it hasn’t gotten any Republicans elected yet! Hint: the law changed a few days after the Omni/Radisson bond issue. And it was twenty years ago.

    As for $7.5m on the bricks, well what do you think an economic stimulus is? Buying stock in Citibank? :):)

  13. http://www.sikhism.us/history-of-sikhism/224-satyendra-huja-the-sikh-architect-charlottesville.html

    QUOTE: In 1985, Council welcomed a large Radisson hotel and convention center at the western terminus. But questions were raised about financial dealings such as letting a division of General Electric (later GE/Fanuc) pay just $1 a year for approximately 25,000 square feet of office space in return for lodging visiting executives at what within six months became the Omni Hotel.

    Cox believes the hotel “stabilized” the Mall. But what it would eventually destabilize was some taxpayers– as over $11.3 million in tax money had to prop up the cash-bleeding project.

    Although distancing himself from the financial aspects of the hotel deal, Huja is unapologetic about the vision. “You’re spending a few cents to save a few dollars,” he says. “It saved the downtown in my mind.”

  14. For the financial wizards out there, what’s the 2009 equivalent of $11.3 million dollars? Would it be $25 million? $30 million? Or more?
    Can the city taxpayers now afford to pay “a few cents to save a few dollars” and “save the mall”, like we did back in 1985?

  15. OK. so stretch that amount out to 2008 and 2009, I guess the next question is whether $22 or $23 million of the taxpayer’s dollars will even begin to finish the new hotel so as to save the new mall brick project and downtown? There’s no way on God’s Green Earth the city will let the hotel sit down there unfinished and overshadowing their new brick for very long.

  16. You’re forgetting that the bond could not be issued now without voter & legislative approval. The law changed on the last day of 1985. Do you think voters twenty years later will reward you with a Republican on city council if you keep twisting this soggy toothpick around? I wish they would, for a little balance, but get real, get a plan for the city nowadays, when everybody loves the Downtown Mall!

    Anyway, back on topic, an empty hotel shell for a coupla years would be no blight on our honor. Look around at the other cities of the world. If you think we’re a city, that is!

  17. Colfer, for the sake of argument, forget city council and the bond issue. If the city wants to find a way to foot the bill to complete this hotel, they will find a new and innovative way to do it. I feel the city taxpayers will end up footing the bill in some way, shape or form to see this hotel to completion. I will remind you that I made this prediction on March 1, 2009. I won’t say “I told you so!”, I will simply and politely remind you that my prediction came true. Do you honestly believe discussions about this are not taking place behind closed doors in City Hall already?

    By the way, voters had no say whatsoever in the city paying $7.5 million for a load of new bricks. Had it gone to a city wide vote of some sort, I suspect it would have been 30% for, 70% against.

  18. Demopublican, I am sure you wrong about the city finishing the hotel. I will bet that it will be sold and finished by private money. I’m so sure that if I’m wrong I will leave this blog forever- and I have been here a very long time. If you are wrong will you do the same?

  19. nope cash is to hard to collect from the internet.
    I firmly believe this is different then the omni and even this Council isn’t that stupid. Bet or no bet?

  20. Cash is not hard to collect via an Internet bet. Waldo knows who I am and can provide you my identity. You can come after your cash with an aluminum baseball bat, and I am sure I would pay you!

  21. Hey, I want a piece of this action. I’m with Perlogik, but I’m for the cash bet, too. So what’s the bet? Do we let Waldo hold the money? What’s his commission? BTW, I won’t need a bat to collect. I think this is a gentleman’s bet.

  22. You know, if the issue here is a 9 story eye sore standing on the mall for years to come, then the city could just as easily order the thing torn down. I mean, if a certain period of time goes by and nothing happens to move construction forward.

    Demolition of something that size is far from cheap, but it would probably be less expensive than finishing the hotel.

    Sorry, Halsey. I know I’m giving you a bit of a scare with this. Nothing personal. But if 18 or 24 months go by without work resuming, then at some point the plug has to be pulled. I want my damned left turn lane back at that intersection.

  23. Jack, what’s preventing the city from moving the position of the safety fence and restoring the travel lanes back to normal? Do you suppose it hasn’t even crossed their minds yet? Maybe you should give them a call and suggest it. :)

  24. OK, seems a few are taking me serious here. Dahmius, Virginia state code § 18.2-325 makes it illegal to bet real money. A blog posting could be used to convict us. And if the Commonwealth were to opt for 18.2-238 to classify me as the operator of this illegal gambling activity, it’s a Class 6 felony. God only knows I have dissed enough rookie cops that they would love to find something criminal going on in my life, even if it’s some BS gambling charge!

    And by the way, since Chville News could be called “a place”, 18.2-239 would atually make Waldo an accomplice in this gambling if he permits such gambling to continue without having notified a law-enforcement officer of the presence of such illegal gambling activity.

    But for the sake of making my point once again, I will NOT bet you an amount of cash on whether or not work on the hotel does commence again by at least July of 2010, and a significant amount of taxpayer’s money will have been spent to make this happen. Now we’re legal! :)

  25. I get around that by designating a charity to which the bet goes, so that there is no “chance to win a prize, stake or other consideration or thing of value.” In fact, I’ve got a $100 bet active right now; if I lose, I have to give it to the RPV, but if I win, the other party has to give it to the DPVA.

  26. That’s one way to stay legal I suppose. I would have to donate my winnings to the Doggie and Kittie people (SPCA).

    Are you currently betting taxpayer money will be used in some manner to force the completion of the hotel too? :)

  27. Are you currently betting taxpayer money will be used in some manner to force the completion of the hotel too?

    Heck no. As Colfer explained, that would require special permission from the General Assembly, which almost never grants permission for localities to do this sort of thing. This hotel fills no need downtown, as it was arguable that The Omni did. There is no compelling interest to complete it. Better to simply require that Minor knock it down, sell the land at auction, and somebody can use it as a surface lot for a few years until the market improves enough to build something a little less pricy.

  28. Isn’t it funny? A perfectly good building was knocked down for nothing. I recall banking there as a youngster. And I recall it being a beautiful building inside. I think it was called Citizens Bank & Trust back then. I always wondered how many customers they lost when the pavement was dug up and replaced with brick. I miss this portion of Main Street, two lanes one way, parking on each side, and all the conveniences it actually offered.

    Maybe UVA will buy it and complete it. And then proceed to buy up everything else on the mall, piece by piece for the next 20 years. :)

  29. No. I prefer the days when there was pavement and parking. I was watching a video on YouTube the other night and enjoyed looking at all the old images of downtown. Brought back a lot of memories.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgDtRvrJ1IE

    I’m old school. I enjoyed the nice quiet town we had back in the late 60s and early 70s. The old drive-in theater where Krogers currently sits. Best times of my life, if you know what I mean. I miss Kenny Burger… their great burgers, fries and milk shakes… the muscle car scene every weekend. The Caravan restaurant, good food, most people don’t even know the place ever existed. And the old Lupos, best steak hoagies ever made. And ice cold beer to wash ’em down with. Who would ever have thought I would be sitting in an ABC car 5 years later helping to enforce underage sales there! :)

  30. Yes, I think it was. A guy named Flynn bought it and ran it later. There were a lot of good fast food joints back in that day and time. I was much younger and could tolerate the food better than I can now. Humpty Dumpty was another good spot, the Crafaik family ran two locations. These places back then didn’t have the garbage like you see in McDonalds, Burger King and Wendys nowadays.

    I would give $10.00 each right now for a few ole Kenny Burger cheeseburgers with their special sauce on it. Or $20.00 for a steak and cheese hoagie from Lupos!

  31. I used to patronize the Waynesboro Caravan as a juvenile delinquent. Right across from the “Skyline Drive-in”.

  32. Demopublican,

    Halcyon days, no doubt. But keeping the downtown of the 60’s just wasn’t an option. The place was dying by the late 70’s. I’ve spent a lot of time driving around through all sorts of odd corners of Virginia and I’ve seen a million towns and small cities in Virginia and most of the downtown areas are dead. All the economic activity usually ends up on the strip of highway where the Walmart is.

    I kinda miss that old Central Fidelity building, too. I opened my first checking account there when I was 17. It was a joint account with my fiance (now wife). The best thing about Central Fidelity is that they had those ATMs that dispensed every denomination of American currency you could want. Literally, the thing would spit out nickels and pennies if you wanted it to.

    “I wore an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time…”

  33. Jackson, I guess we’ll just never know. And we probably won’t agree on a lot of this. But I think Roses would still be downtown if the mall had not been constructed, even though I doubt Roses was a big loss for most people. I don’t for one minute believe big box stores like Lowes put Charlottesville Hardware out of business downtown, I think the brick put them out of business. The A&N store, why would I spend 20 to 30 minutes looking for parking and walking to the one on the mall when I could drive up on Pantops, park, and walk in in less than 10 seconds? Leggett’s finally left the brick and went to Fashion Square where people could easily park. The list just goes on and on, one business after another left the brick.
    Now as far as the new hotel, people may make reservations, people may stay there. But once they see the parking and have their car broken into one night I doubt they will stay at the hotel a second time. I wouldn’t even want to leave my company issued car down on one of the Water Street parking lots or parking garage all night long. Even if it’s not broken into, it will probably be struck by stray bullets flying around down there all hours of the night. I dont know if it’s still the case or not, but it was so bad at one time that off duty cops were always working the Water Street parking garage.
    What we really need down on Water Street is a small Chaps location like on River Road, especially if they give free coffee, donuts, ice cream and food to cops. Water Street would become one of the safest places to be in Charlottesville. God only knows Arbys is probably the safest place to be on Emmett Street! And I am being quite serious. There’s always 2 to 4 police cars at Arby’s getting discounted or free food. Charlottesville Police, Albemarle County police, Virginia State Police, University Police…. they have their own litle security force coming and going all hours of the day and night.

  34. Wow, I didn’t know that. Maybe the DTM merchants could “comp the cops” with some herbal tea, or a tofu burger, or maybe a free neck massage and handouts of some aroma therapy doodads for their squad cars. The perps might like that, too.

  35. Talk about a swift career change… I was going to med school until I found out the dozens of businesses around town that give away free coffee and food to cops don’t give it to doctors. :)

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