No action: Landmark Hotel construction at a standstill

Is there anybody out there? A lone workman stands atop what remained of the Landmark Hotel crane Friday afternoon. By day's end, the crane was gone with the hotel presently unfinished and future uncertain.

After the removal of the 10+ story crane at the site of the Landmark Hotel on Friday, January 30, the future of the luxury lodging establishment remained hazy. The hotel's owner and lender would not say what the crane's come-down meant for the future of the hotel, and workers on the site reported to the Hook that the reason the crane was coming down was due to the fact that they were done pouring concrete on top of the building. So on Tuesday, February 3, the question remained: Once the concrete is finished setting, what's next in the hotel's construction?

Answer: There is no next–- at least for now.

A visit to the Landmark site reveals that only a handful of workers were working Tuesday, and they report that they are only there to scrape off any excess concrete from the recent job. No masons were on the site, no heating and air conditioning workers, no heavy equipment operators, no construction of any kind going on at the site of the Landmark Hotel.

Repeated calls to the hotel's owner Halsey Minor and to its lender Silverton Bank went unreturned by the time of this post.

This comes only three weeks after workers on the site told the Hook that construction was coming to a halt for 60 days. At that time, Minor's attorney Steve Blaine confirmed that construction might be slowing down, but that this was no indicator of an uncertain future for the project.

“As with any project,” said Blaine, “the owner is making certain he’s going to deliver the project in the most financially efficient and viable way.”

This, said Blaine, is not cause for alarm.

“Halsey Minor is still the owner, the contractor is still the contractor, and the bank still has a loan,” said Blaine, “and they all intend to bring this project to completion.”

This week's stoppage comes at a time when the hotel is only one degree separated from a man who's just been financially disgraced in the current economic crisis. On Thursday, the Daily Beast revealed that as Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain was planning to slash expenses and lay off thousands of workers, Thain had hired interior decorator to the stars Michael Smith to redesign Merrill's New York office for $1.2 million. This is the same interior decorator whom Minor had hired for the Landmark Hotel, for an untold portion of the hotel's $31 million budget.

A representative for Smith tells the Hook that it is Smith's policy "not to comment on clients."

This is but the latest in a series of events that has raised the level of public uncertainty about the project. In November, Silverton Bank withheld its loan money on the project, though the reason was publicly disputed between owner and lender. The following month, owner Minor ousted developer Lee Danielson as the project’s developer.

Some have wondered if the City government might intervene in a fashion akin to the federal bailout of the banking and auto industries. Such a move would not be unprecedented. In the early '90s, the City finished chipping in more than $11 million to complete and then bail-out the Omni hotel. Aubrey Watts, the City's director of economic development, did not return the Hook's call for comment, but if Mayor Dave Norris' recent comments are any indicator, it would not appear such a deal is in the works.

“If it never exists,” Norris told the Hook in December, “it’s not like Downtown will die.”

Asked about the prospect of getting involved in the project in even a mediation role, Norris said, "Absolutely not. I'm no dummy."


This is the second time in recent days that the Hook has referenced Michael Smith's connection to both John Thain and the Landmark Hotel. Each time I've been left wondering why the Hook even bothered bringing the subject up. After reading Hawes Spencer's first post on the topic, it seemed like it could be a slow news day and gossip column posts might pass the time. This time around the reference just seems odd. There really isn't any kind of meaningful connection between the two.

Who cares if Mr. Minor hired the same interior decorator as John Thain? What's the point? Drawing this connection is clearly intended as a mark against Mr. Minor.

Hellooooo.. you don't hire Target to decorate what is supposed to be a luxury hotel.

Downtown C-Ville...where good ideas go to die.

Still no obama news on this site?? Huh. sumthins weird round these here parts....I swore i saw his face on here every other issue, that is, until recently. I'm just sayin'

OK, all you useless bloggers and your wild stories defending him. What do you have to say now?

It is just a matter of time. The true somehow always comes out. You can only hide for so long. You took away a wonderful person and you will pay the price. So, stand there and keep looking smug because the day is coming when the truth comes out. You won't be able to have that smug look any longer.

I don't see anywhere that Mr. Abshire is being accused. Only that it COULD be foul play. Why did it take 16 months to get an autopsy report back? Was the body reexamined? This just seems a little strange to me.

If you'd read the article it doesn't say when the autopsy report came back. Usually they release that kind of info when the investigators want the public to know. Additionally you can't reexamine a cremated body...

Time is a wonderful thing, which we have plenty of!

Time is a wonderful thing, which there is plenty of!

Excuse me, I didn't realize the body had been cremated (there was no mention of that in the article). I just read that "in contrast to Earlier reports that called her death merely mysterious, that Justine was quite possibly a victim of foul play". Where did these earlier reports come from, if not from an autopsy? Not taking sides, just curious to those to know.

Obviously the investigators have known this information for quite awhile. It takes time to put the pieces of the puzzle together. They are not going to come out and say that her death was foul play right after it happened... they are going to wait until they can prove/have concrete evidence that it was foul play(which, by the way, they have suspected since day one). It's ironic really, to think that whoever killed Justine really thought they were going to get away with it...that all of this would just "go away"...makes ya really sweat now doesn't it Mr. Abshire??

What this article failed to mention is that Justine AND Eric were at the dealership. They were looking to test drive this vehicle but the salesman COULD NOT find the key. Why does the Hook not include all information, such as the fact that Justine was with Eric and the key was missing then, instead of just bits and pieces and Innuendo. Is it just for sensationalism?

There's been so many unsolved murders lately, I will believe an arrest in this case when I see a conviction. The murder of girl coming to Charlottesville to shop with her mother is still unsolved. The murder of the girl sitting in her car and shot in the back of the head in Gordonsville remains unsolved. That's just two right off the top of my head. There are others.

And as far as pointing fingers at suspects, it wasn't too long ago people pointed at OJ. But we all know the jury found him innocent of all charges and tarnished his character and reputation.

The OJ jury did not find him innocent. It found that the State did not prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he was guilty. A civil court found OJ responsible for the death of Ron Goldman and awarded the Goldman estate money damages. Obviously, this would not have happened if OJ had actually been found "innocent."

"Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" is a high standard of proof for the Commonwealth to prove. An acquittal of a charge is simply an indication that the Commonwealth did not meet that standard.

Yeah, I personally think the case went south real fast when a sworn cop carrying a badge and gun committed perjury by denying his using racial slurs in his everyday normal conversations. And then it was proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he was a total pathetic liar. This of course was the same cop who found the magical bloody glove that wouldn't even fit OJ.

We can't give a man a jury trial and then dispute the jury's findings. We have the best legal system in the entire world. Supposedly.

Having said all of the above, I must say the legal system has always been good to me. I have never come across anything but totally competent judges who aren't afraid to break one off in the cops when they deserve it. :)

Why is everyone afraid to post their name, yet attack everyone else's post? If you're all so committed to your opinions, why not let it be known who you are? Instead, you're hiding behind masks...
I want to start off by saying that this is finally news that I personally was looking for. I'm not saying that I am glad that it's necessarily pointing to Eric, but I am glad that it's pointing to "something" and that the case is still ongoing and not "cold." With all these police TV shows, everyone expects cases to get solved in an hour, when in reality, it often takes months or even years...
The truth will eventually come out, thank God for her family and friends, and when it does, all those above who have hidden behind their masks will be free to not have to anymore...but I bet that once the truth does come out, those people will be awfully silent...

"Time is on our side, yes it is"

It's wonderful that there is finally some forward momentum in this case. It's only a matter of time now. There is no doubt in my mind that those responsible WILL be brought to justice. Until then, they will be in an internal prison of their own making.

On a separate note, what a beautiful picture of Justine and her father. It looked liked a lovely wedding. Would've like to have seen a picture of Justine and Eric. Funny, there doesn't seem to be a lot of those printed in the media.

Matt, I don't think anybody is hiding behind any names here. After all, "Matt" doesn't tell us a whole lot about you now, does it?

I think everybody would like to see an arrest in this case, the sooner the better. But we've all said the same thing about the other cases I have mentioned as well. Isn't the unsolved murder case in Culpeper about 12 or 13 years old now? And the other murder in Orange is at least 2 years old now? Albemarle County has a suspicious death that's over 40 years old now.

Sick of Local Rambos:
I want to start off by saying that "Matt" is alot more forthcoming than "Sick of Local Rambos." I did not give a last name as to not affect professionalism/bias among this matter...
My point in my post was that so many people attack others in similar posts like these; as if anonymity gives people the right to just slap others in the face...and that's unfortunate...
I do agree with you, though. I think everyone is waiting for an arrest in this case, and the sooner the better. Untimely deaths would idealistically be solved quickly so that family members can get some closure. For those that you mentioned, I feel terrible that they have had to endure what they have had to for so long...

Well, it's pretty interesting...Over 60 comments on the first storey about Justine then over 100 on the second. Maybey with the new ifno people whe defend hem have decided that he is not to be beleived. makes you wonder. Not much to say now, is their
rest in peace Justine, the truth is coming.

Just curious, has Mr. Absihre been formally accused of anything? I haven't seen that he has been arrested or anything. It was stated earlier that he was quesitoned, but if there is all this evidence against him why not. There are a few folks out there who seem to have the "inside scoop", such as what evidence the police have, results of the latest autopsy report, etc.

Just maybe people are begining to realize that "Innocent until proven guilty" is a good thing in this county. But the system is not foolproof, there are a lot of innocent people in the prison system today, many who have been exronated and some who have been exronated after being put to death. Just something to think about.

To Qeustion,
It cuts both ways. Lots of guilty people are still free.

To Not Reported,
I didn't see anything in this article about a car or a missing key. When are you going to give this sad story up? Everyone knows it doesn't make sense, and it's just more stuff to cover upthe truth. Everyone knows what really happened.

It was obvious to everyone-her friends and coworkers and even strangers who read about it-that it wasn't really a hit and run accident. Why did it take so long to release this info to the public? And was the house ever searched and tested? I'm so sorry Justine ever got mixed up with those people. She deserved so much better!

Thank the Lord! Things finally seem to be going somewhere in this case. The guilty one(s) will PAY for what they did and for covering it up. Sad to say, some people are evil, and without the conscience that would make a normal person filled with grief and guilt. I pray daily that the police get/have enough hard evidence to bring to the commonwealth to ensure a conviction.

Somebody brutally murdered this beautiful young girl. The abusive husband will not take a lie detector test. I pray that he is charged and found guilty soon and that his state has the death penalty.

First let me start by saying that anyone who has ever worked in the legal field knows that Attorneys never recommend for anyone to take a lie detector test. It is a no win situation. If he passes they will just say he knew how to fool it and if he was a little nervous (who wouldn't be having all that stuff hooked up to you) and failed they would say he was guilty even if he isn't. The thing about reading a story is you believe what you read because well it's in print so it must be true. Right? As you read the story ask yourself a few questions, Do you enjoy visiting your in-laws or do you do what I do and tell my parents my husband is working whenever I go visit. My parents never liked my husband because he came from an upper class family up north and we are just country folk. I think Justine's parents always felt Eric was beneath their daughter. They talk about violations in several counties....who hasn't had a speeding ticket; it doesn't make you a bad person. How many men do you know out there that want to talk about their feelings ... Especially when they just left their dying mothers bedside who he loved very much. The story written is designed by grieving parents who wants to put the blame of their daughters death somewhere and on the son-in-law they never really liked is a good place. The article doesn't mention that Eric has been questioned several times by police, vehicles and home searched and NOTHING in his story has changed and nothing has been found linking him to the crime. He also is the one who posted the fliers that you see in just about every store and business in the area. Regarding the vehicle that is mentioned stolen from the same lot that Eric & Justine had visted, what isn't mentioned is Justine and Eric had gone there to test drive this car and the employee couldn't find the key. Eric and Justine never entered the building. They waited outside for the man to return w/ the key. He couldn't find the key and Kevin, an employee, said he would have one made and to come back another day. They went 2 or 3 additional times to try to test drive this car. The car was then stolen at a later date. So the key was already missing the first day they went to test drive the car and it wasn't stolen until later. HOw many other people had visted that lot that day. If he stole the vehicle how did he hide it from Justine and if he had hid it in that storage shed where it was found do you really think that he left his house after his wife called, drove his motorcyle to the stoarage shed, got the truck, drove back to where Justine was, hit her, drove back to the shed got the motorcyle and drove back to where justine was to find the body. That just does not make sense. There was also no mention of there being any damage to the front end of that vehicle. As far as Eric not using his cell phone, I don't know how many of you live on back country roads but I do and I can tell you there are "dead spots" where if my car broke down I would have to walk a small distance to get a signal. Maybe that was why Justine was so far from her car and her cell phone was found not far from her. Just a few things to think about. Justine was an incredible woman and had the sweetest voice and smile of anyone I knew. I never thought it to be fair that GOD takes the good ones so young. I do hope her killer is caught and prosecuted to the furthest extent of the law. I hope her parents and Eric find some type of peace.

What is up with this investigation. The authorities got nothing. First its the husband. He was first on the sceen. Next she was not hit by a car while walking or standing. Then you have the mysterious SUV with a report the husband had been looking at the SUV and it appears a year later in a storage unit.

Is there damage to the SUV consistent with the injuries? Where is the medical examiners report? Seems the detectives are just trying to bait out some responces or scare someone into talking they think might have information.

The real question is if the investigation is on going and meritorious they would be releasing some concrete information and asking for specific help.

As far as the polygraph test I would point you to the "Runaway bride story out of Georgia" where the fiance was asked to take the test refused unless it all could be made public information. The GBI refused the condition the fiance refused the test. Within a week the bride was found in Vegas. Again the detectives were using the polygraph to manipulate the likely suspect to tell them what really happened.

Seems the investigators need to start telling the truth and stop hiding the cold case behind a most likely suspect and let folks know what if anything they are doing to solve the crime AND WHAT THEY HAVE DONE SO FAR.

If it wasn't a hit and run, then what type of murder weapon are they looking for? Do they suspect a bloody crime sceen elsewhere? Were the injuries sustained over days, hours or a single moment?

Not all case will be solved, but I think everyone should expect a diligent effort to explain the death. Enough with we can not disclose that as the case is still under investigation.

Maybe she was pulled over by a "cop" type...
maybe someone saw her stopped and got aggressive... Maybe she had a secret...
I'm from Virginia...those small towns are rife with "mysteries"...I keep remembering the Ramsays
who were relentlessly pursued by Denver...

Really, the most telling thing is that after he found his wife in the road, he forgot that he had a cell phone to call an ambulance? I know that if I found someone that I love hurt, my cell phone is the first thing I am reaching for to call for help. Instead he ran to a neighbors to use their phone, that is just such a simple and telling lie.

Before this ever happened maybe a year before, I met Eric Abshire and his business partner Mr. Green. I honestly don't know his first name they were partners in a business called E&L hauling... All I do know is that they had some financial issues with this company and that there were tons of note about FRAUD with their company and giving them credit.
Since I heard about her murder I felt as though he was involved. There are just too many odd things going on with her husband and the shady people that he associates himself with.
Also, if you've ever been on those roads NO WOMAN in her right mind is getting out of her car there! I don't care who stops if it's not the person that you called late at night you are not getting out. I'm sure that if a police officer had pulled her over she would have said "my husband is on the way" I think Eric left to use the neighbors phone while she lay there dying! Her phone was in the car, if something was wrong with his would that be the next logical place to look??

I read where HER cell phone was in the road about 60 feet from her body. Which is it, really? In the car or in the road? Also about her coat. The parents say she was ill that night and an early to bed person. If she ever even LEFT HOME why would she do so WITHOUT HER COAT? And then, what's this about her coat in the car? Mad inconsistances here. Please make clearer. Peace be unto the families. I think she was murdered elsewhere and brought to the scene. Does anyone know what Justine was wearing?

Be careful about promises of reward money. I solved a double murder that had a $10.000 reward...only half has been paid..the one family refused to pay once it was solved.

I knew Eric in high school, he was never a violent person. All the comments accusing him of being guily are people who do not know him, or met him for a brief while. What does the comment posted regarding the people he associates with mean? Who are we to judge? People ask why he didnt use his cell phone. If I had just found my spouse dead in the middle of the road im sure i would not be thinking clearly either. My heart goes out to all of Justines family, but it does no good to keep accusing Eric. I think people want this to be solved and they are looking in one direction only, this would not be the first time police and grieving families have done so.

There is someone out there, other than Eric or Jesse, that knows what happened to Justine. W****, I pray for you every night. I cant even imagine how scared you must be. Please dig down deep in your soul and find the courage to come forward with what you know. You know what time Jesse left the house to go help Eric. There are people that love you and will protect you and the kids from any harm. You need to think about your son and the one on the way. Dont you want more for them then to be raised in this drama? Say what you know, then, get those kids as far away from these killers as possible. You will find a new freedom.

Today is a new day… It doesnt matter that you have keep your lips sealed up to this point. You can choose to do the right thing TODAY! W****, The weight of the world is on your shoulders as long as you hold this secret in. Let it out, and the people that love you and care about you are here to help. Just think: If R***** was still here, what would he want you to do? My prayers are with you. ~Peace

This story does not sound right at all........I too have known Jesse and Eric for many years. Eric was always a little player but neither he nor his brother were ever violent. I do however think that people can change and things do happen that can cause even the most sane person to snap....I do not want to believe that someone that I spent so much time with is capable of killing someone.
TO be honest, you have to be really smart to be able to hide something like this for so long and I think that Jesse and Eric are too stupid to have done this.

For those who say they know him so well...don't know the half of him he has been violent in his past and is nothing but a lying cheating womenizer who take advantage of neone he can

hope they find the person responsible for the death

I just saw this on Primetime Crime last night. I am from Virginia as well and felt that I needed to comment. This is way TOO suspicious. I truly feel that the husband is the culprit and I hope that the Va. State Police can prove this as well. She was way too good for this evil guy. I don't understand what she saw in him either. A pure nothing is what he is...I desire to learn so much more about her and her life and what would gravitate her to him. I am an avid true crime individual who definitely sees wrongdoing on his part. Let's give her some peace and find out exactly what happened. Her sister spoke the truth. Why would she lie? No, she wouldn't. He would because he is ever so guilty.

I just seen this story on primetime, tv 7/24/2009. Im someone with no powers but being only human and i know when someone is not speaking the truth , eric and jesse are not telling the truth. It will only be time and none to soon but it will come out. eric himself has already proved guilt in his actions , he knows he is guilty ,no if what or but about it. I hope the Abshire Family gets there justice sooner then later, eric needs to end this story of tales.