For over three years, Tyvek has been flapping in the breeze at the planned 101-room luxury lodging.
John Dewberry, an Atlanta-based real estate developer with local connections,plans to start building the hotel sometime in 2013.
According to recently filed court documents, the 'Landmark Hotel' property on the Downtown Mall has now officially changed hands. On August 8, Atlanta-based developer John Dewberry, who won the property at auction for $6.25 million, officially closed on the purchase, to the partial relief of former owner Halsey Minor's creditors. That amount is a far cry from the $23.7 million loan Minor took out, then defaulted on, to build the proposed 101-room luxury hotel.
The City was a winner, too, as a little over $160,000 in back real estate taxes, over three years worth that had gone unpaid, were finally paid. As reported in the Hook, and nationally, Minor has left a trail of debt across the country since construction on the hotel came to a halt in January 2009.
"This is an exciting step forward, both for the City of Charlottesville and for those creditors who are owed money," says Bill Shmidheiser, a lawyer who represents a subcontractor holding a lien. "Not only does the city get its back real estate taxes immediately, but all the liens will be paid in full, a total of approximately $3 million; and then the bank holding the loan will be paid about another $3 million."
More importantly, Shmidheiser says the closing means the stalled project, an eye-soar/eye-sore on the Mall now for over three years, is likely going to move forward.
"The hotel building now has a new owner who appears to be determined to finally complete the building and make it the “Landmark Hotel” promised to improve the Downtown Mall six years ago," says Shmidheiser. "Until the sale closed, you couldn’t be sure."
"This is a good news," says Charlottesville Mayor Satyendra Singh Huja upon hearing the news. "It shows a full commitment on the developer's part to complete the project."
New owner John Dewberry, an Atlanta-based developer with close ties to Charlottesville, could not immediately be reached for comment regarding construction plans, but Shmidheiser says we could see signs of building activity pretty soon, as the owner will want to have his engineers inspect the mothballed building site.
"The new owner will also need to update the architectural plans," Shmidheiser says, "and they may want to change some things, do some things differently than the original plans, so new building permits and approvals will be needed."
Still, as Shmidheiser points out, it's going to be awhile before the hotel gets built. As Dewberry told the Hook, he's in the process of building a similar hotel closer to home, and doesn't plan on starting the Charlottesville hotel, which he has unofficially dubbed "The Dewberry," until the first one is finished.
"I suspect you may see engineers and inspectors at the site from time to time over the next few months," says Shmidheiser, "but you won’t see real building activity on site until early spring 2013. "