Liening: Landmark contractor claims Minor didn't pay

Seen here at last April's groundbreaking of the Landmark Hotel, Internet entrepreneur Halsey Minor has seen construction on the nine-story luxury hotel grind to a halt.

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


How many shoes are gonna drop in this saga? One month of no work on the site and the sidewalk is still covered and water street is still partially blocked off.

At what point does the city do something so that the public is not further inconvenienced by all of this? 2 months? 3?

try 12-18 months before another shovel hits dirt. the more of these suits that get filed, the longer it goes on. considering that nobody has any financial cushion any more, few of the 30 parties involved in this mess will walk away easily. Assume this gets finished around 2013.

Some of you people are pretty hard headed. There is no way on God's Green Earth the city will allow the hotel to sit unfinished overshadowing their new brick for 4 years (2013). Just ain't gonna happen!

The Tyvek blowing in the wind is lovely.

Lee Danielson is a good man and I know this from personal experience and feedback from some people that worked for his family for 15+ years;

that being said, I feel bad for him having to go through all of this mess. If you ask me all these lawsuits Halsey has going on are just a desperate attempt by another has been, uber-rich person trying to get back what they lost in the latter of their rudimetary and frivolous fiscal behavior.

The city needs to make a quick transition of the building into low income housing and get some fast bailout money to complete the project.

Don't worry farmer, the homeless will be camping soon.

I bet Minor commits suicide. Gun, overdose, or ......tall building? I'm a sick puppy.


cville3,I hope they "at least" pay their current employees before they fold.

Dave, whatever happens in all of this, I don't support your speaking of the "suicide piece".
You are not GOD and you are out of line in your suggestion.
What a tasteless bet! You should also be ashamed.

Condemn the building and resell it on the courthouse steps. Use emminent domain. It ABSOLUTELY qualifies as Blight.

The city has the power. Step in and use it.

This will get the parties to the table pronto.

The "City" can't/won't do anything...the bank and Minor own the property and unless the bank forecloses which is doubtful, nothing will happen, hence the filing of lawsuits....It took the City years to get rid of the "attractive nuisances" on the mall * Woolworths and CVS that attracted the homeless and "dancing man". They've spent $$$ with bike police to stop the vagrants from peeing in the doorways of businesses in order to attract upscale tenants and make the mall attractive FOR HIGHER TAX REVENUE so the City needs to CHILL and let the legal process work itself out.

I think it's nice just the way it is. Steel skeleton with tyvek skin towering no make that menacing above all.

cville3, why don't you stop dropping that foolishness in every thread here on The Hook? When and if it happens, I am sure there will be a thread here devoted to it. Then you (and I) can rant about it all we want.

But, if they have to depend on me as a customer to stay in business, they won't. The reason is actually two fold... first, the last time I took a car in for simple repairs they told me it would be 3 days before they could get to it. Secondly, I no longer buy any big ticket items from any local business who has owners or employees as a member of the local Elks lodge.

3 days to get to a simple repair done is not acceptable. Especially after I had purchased the extended warranty and the car was still under warranty. I took a Cadillac I own into a Richmond, Virginia dealer for a MAJOR interior cosmetic repair, and they repaired it while I waited. In and out for a major repair in less than 5 hours. And they also loaned me a brand new Hummer to drive around RIchmond while I waited. Local businesses in Charottesville have a lot to learn about total customer satisfaction in my opinion!