Landmark showdown: Minor, Danielson begin court fight

Former Landmark Hotel developer Lee Danielson–- who calls Minor's lawsuit "preposterous"–- leaves court with his attorney Connor Crook.

The legal fight over who's at fault in the unfinished Landmark Hotel project began in earnest March 12 when Judge Edward Hogshire heard arguments on motions in Landmark owner Halsey Minor's suit against the Landmark's former developer, Lee Danielson.

Minor–- who was not present at Thursday's proceedings–- won one and lost one in Charlottesville Circuit Court. Minor succeeded in adding Atlanta lender Silverton Bank as a defendant in the case, but his attorney failed to convince the judge to stop Silverton from foreclosing on the unfinished structure.

One hurdle Minor has recently been facing both inside and outside of courtrooms is the allegation, bolstered by about $60 million in suits over unpaid bills, is that his net worth–- once estimated around half a billion dollars– has recently been dealt a setback.

"They don't have a shred of evidence," Minor's Los Angeles-based attorney, Betty Shumener told the court, "that Halsey Minor's financial situation has changed."

Speaking from the bench, Judge Hogshire cited pending lawsuits against Minor from Merrill Lynch, Christie's, and Sotheby's, all of which allege that Minor is in serious financial trouble, and he denied the motion for a Temporary Restraining Order.

"In order for me to give you a TRO," Hogshire said from the bench, "the law says you have to be be likely to prevail on the merits of the case. From what I can tell, the foreclosure would seem pretty well founded."

Minor's suit alleges that Danielson and Silverton Bank "colluded" against him to prepare "deceptive constructive budgets" and that Silverton continues to encourage construction of an "unviable project."

Nevertheless, Shumener told the Hook after court adjourned that Minor very much wishes to see the Landmark Hotel to completion.

"It is still a viable project," said Shumener. "This suit is not an attempt to get out of ownership. Just the opposite, actually. We're trying to preserve the Landmark's reputation and finish the job."

In Thursday's pretrial motions, Shumener offered a preview of how she will eventually argue Minor's case, painting her client as a dutiful native son of Charlottesville trying to build a hotel despite the "fraudulent and conspiratorial" practices of a big bank.

"Our interest is more than monetary," Shumener said in court. "The Minor family is proud of their roots, and the Minor family still intends to revive this hotel. The bank," she added, "doesn't give a patoot about the property–- they just want the money."

How does Danielson, the California developer behind the Charlottesville Ice Park and the Downtown Regal Cinema, feel about the suit he's previously called "preposterous?"

"I'm frozen from making any more for-the-record comments," answered Danielson.

For its part, Silverton's Atlanta-based legal team kept its defense close to the vest. In response to Shumener's motion to prevent foreclosure, Silverton attorney Bob Albert simply stated, "We shouldn't have to submit any evidence to rebut this." Citing a bank policy to refrain from discussing pending litigation, Albert declined comment to the Hook.

Silverton has filed a $10.5 million suit against Minor in Fulton County, Georgia, alleging Minor has defaulted on his $23.6 million construction loan for the Landmark.

Judge Hogshire did not set a trial date for the suit, instead telling the parties that he was, "hopeful this can come to some happier conclusion."

If Minor's counsel's words are any indicator, that won't happen anytime soon. Asked where the case goes from here, Shumener said simply, "We will have our day in court."


I don't think that Crook is a good name for a lawyer.

the attorney name is enough to give you the giggles!

On the one hand, you've gotta feel for the guy: How many times a day must the poor man get Connor-Crook-Lawyer jokes?

On the other hand, Mr. Crook could have gone into something other than law.

re: "Minor’s suit alleges that Danielson and Silverton Bank ââ?¬Å?colluded” against him to prepare ââ?¬Å?deceptive constructive budgets” and that Silverton continues to encourage construction of an ââ?¬Å?unviable project.”"

Why on earth would Danielson and the bank do this? In order to lose money on the project? Is this guy's contention that everyone conspired and colluded to lose money just to make him look foolish?

Minor's allegations seem preposterous.

gotta love this phrase "The bank,” she added, ââ?¬Å?doesn’t give a patoot about the propertyââ?¬â?

is that LA speak?

great reporting Lindsay

I bet many, including me, thought from the get-go this Minor-Danielson partnership would sooner than later, at best, be difficult.

According to a March 25th article in the Atlanta Constitution, Silverton Bank has been ordered to boost capital, and maintain certain levels, or face a possible sale, merger, or liquidation. The article states that the OCC issued Silverton a consent order, which is the strongest action that the OCC can take, other than seizure.

Possibly Silverton is not doing as well as they portray, which leaves even more questions about the fate of the properties they own.

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out! My guess is that our government will have mercy on them, and give them the bailout money they need, but who knows?

I don't wish to see anyone fail, but it is comforting to know that even Silverton Bank is having liquidity problems! That puts them on common ground with the rest of us!

Actually, because I'm dealing with Silverton on another issue, I have no doubt that they could be at fault here. They are overly aggressive, and care ONLY about one thing....MONEY!

I understand that they are a bank, and it is their living, but they have posted annual shareholder returns of 19.5% since 2004! Those kind of returns don't come easy.

Even after being that profitable, according to their most recent earnings report, and I'll quote, "Due to the attractive terms offered under the Treasury's TARP program, our Board of Directors has authorized manageement to investigate making application for approximately $77 million in preferred equity." It must be nice to play both ends against the middle!

Brag about the returns you've generated since '04, and then apply for $77 million in government loans at the same time!

I hope this Minor man has more luck than we did. An attorney told me recently, "You can't fight Silverton Bank....all of you together can't fight them." He was referring to purchasers who are losing their escrow deposit money on a condo project in Panama City Beach, while Silverton will very likely recover every dime of their money and attorney's fees.

I'll keep you posted on our situation, but now it's totally up to Silverton Bank, as a bankruptcy judge just allowed them to purchase the remaining 370 units in this complex for $68.7 million, or less than $160 per sq foot, free and clear of all the common, hardworking American's liens.


If Silverton is at fault it is still minors fault for climbing into bed with them. Their reputaion precedes them.

If he is as rich as he says he should buy them out and finish it on his own terms taking the "loss" to prove he is truly putting his family name first.

But thats just me....

I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

I hope Minor has a large walk-in closet, 'cos he sure has lots of suits.

The last time I heard "patoot" used extensively was by that classic thespian McLean Stevenson, as he used is on M*A*S*H quite frequently.

As for names in this article, I do enjoy Crook as the name for an attorney. In addition, I Judge Hogshire related to another classic thespian, Talia Shire? In Rocky's constant hematomic stupor, he fancied her (who should have retained the Hog in her name).

Finally, a big thank you for bringing us the Ice Park and Regal Cinema. I love bringing my son to the Ice Park to watch the four skaters, and I think a cinema on the downtown mall added so much to it!

Peace, love and Bobby Sherman choker love beads to all principals in this saga!