Done deal: New owner closes on 'Landmark Hotel' property

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. "

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Let's get crackin'- we need a new rooftop bar stat!

Yes indeedy. I was PROMISED a rooftop bar, dammit, high enough to see mountains and stuff. I WANT my ROOFTOP BAR.

[Yes, there's the Skybar, but it's not the same.]

HEY! The Skybar has a nice view of the parking garage and that awful Downtown Deli!

I sure am glad this wasn't dumped on the backs of taxpayers again. Like The Radisson/Omni was a while back. The taxpayers were taken to the cleaners on that adventure.

GSOE, you might sleep easier if you recast the transaction as government purchasing salt to ensure that what was removed from the Omni site never grows back.

A rooftop bar AND a bungie jumping platform.

Is there actual demand for another luxury hotel on the downtown mall??

Build it, and maybe they just won't come.

meanwhile, I think parking will be their biggest problem. Who wants to park in an upper floor of the parking garage and carry their heavy baggage across the street and uphill to the mall? I wouldn't. Those who do park in the garage will have their cars broken into all the time.


It's called "valet."

If they have it when they open. But even so, valet doesn't prevent their cars from being broken into.

Funny, if there were cars being broken into all the time in the parking garage, you would think that police reports would reflect that. Instead there are only 3 incidents reported so far this year at that location. I wonder where these ridiculous, scared little girl fantasies of a dangerous downtown come from. In 30+ years of going out downtown at all hours, including very late at night, I have never once encountered the slightest threat from anyone to myself or to my unattended car.

The real issue for hotel guests trying to park is that the garage closes pretty early most nights which could make for some real hassle for late arrivals or for any guests who want to explore the area or have other business to attend to later in the evening. I'm sure anyone smart enough to run a hotel will be smart enough to find a solution to that problem though.

At 5:30pm yesterday beside the Landmark site on the mall, two 300 lb. guys were about to go at each other in a fight. I had to get to a meeting so I didn't see what happened. Didn't see any police anywhere. I don't guess fights or almost fights like this will go on when the hotel is finished?

Don't fights go on almost everywhere humans gather on this planet? Charlottesville seems to have relatively few of them though. I doubt if that will change much whether that hotel gets finished or not. Anyone that thinks Charlottesville is a dangerous place to live, work, or play has lived a very sheltered life and really needs to get out into the world a bit.