Liening: Landmark contractor claims Minor didn't pay
As Charlottesville native and Internet entrepreneur Halsey Minor continues to fight lawsuits from three different creditors, a subcontractor on his Landmark Hotel project now claims that Minor has not paid them for its services.
Froehling and Robertson, a Richmond-based environmental compliance firm, has filed a mechanic's lien on the Landmark Hotel project, in an effort to compel Minor to pay for $22,713.07 worth of testing and inspection billed beginning last October.
According to papers filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court, F&R sent Minor a bill on October 31, 2008 for its first month's worth of work on the Landmark project. The firm subsequently billed Minor for the next three months, and F&R claims it has yet to see a dime.
Representatives for F&R and Minor had not returned the Hook's calls for comment at the time of this post, but ousted Landmark developer Lee Danielson says this is likely but the first of these liens.
"I know people on this project who are owed everything from $3,000 to more than $300,000," says Danielson. "That's the real shame of this. If you figure everyone working on this project has an average of one spouse and one child depending on their income, there are at least 1,000 people who have been affected by Halsey Minor not paying them."
Indeed a reporter's return trip to the courthouse turned up another lien, this one valued at nearly $137,000 by Baltimore-based interior design firm R.D. Jones & Associates Inc.
Last month, the private finance division of Merrill Lynch sued Minor for not paying back a $25 million loan, and, before that, auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's had each sued Minor for not paying for millions of dollars worth of paintings he agreed to purchase. The Merrill and Christie's suits each claim that Minor knew he did not have the means to pay back his debts.
The lien also comes at a time when Minor is suing Danielson and Georgia-based lender Silverton Bank for breach of contract and fraud in an effort to be released from his contractual obilgations to the project as its owner.
In the suit Minor alleges that prior to firing Danielson as the project's developer in December, Danielson had "prepared and delivered miseleading budgets" in an effort to lure Minor in as a backer, most notably in not including the construction costs of a "first-class, full service restaurant" to be called "minor's." Additionally Minor alleges that Silverton knew the budgets Danielson prepared were inaccurate and did not inform Minor.
"Absolutely preposterous," says Danielson of Minor's allegations. "Minor was informed of his options and signed off on every choice, and I have the paperwork to back it up."
Danielson says he and Silverton are meeting with attorneys to figure out how best to proceed in the courts, but Danielson says a countersuit is imminent.
"It's coming," says Danielson. "It's just a matter of when."
In November, Minor alleged Silverton had withheld its loan money without explanation and told the Hook then he was planning to sue Silverton.
"It’s a mess," said Minor. "I put up $7 million in equity up front. They had until Friday to pay $1.1 million, and they just didn’t. They flat-out did not pay."
In the middle of all the legal wrangling is the hotel shell itself, which not only remains unfinished, but has not seen any construction work since the February 3 removal of the 10+ story crane.
–last updated 4:12pm, March 5