Bitter ousting: Minor fires Danielson from Landmark project
"I am the former developer of the Landmark Hotel."
With those words Lee Danielson confirms to the Hook that he is no longer tied to the Downtown Mall luxury hotel project– at least for now.
"I am taking no legal action at this time," says Danielson, "but I am talking to my attorneys."
Danielson learned of the personnel change by letter from attorneys representing Landmark owner Halsey Minor. Danielson thinks he may have a case against Minor due to what he says was their agreement.
"He has two choices," says Danielson. "He can either fire me for quality, and I can't figure out how that would be since we were working ahead of schedule, or he can pay me what I'm owed."
For now work does continue on the Landmark. A work crew operated on the half-finished structure this afternoon.
Danielson says that while this is ultimately a question of business, it does hurt him personally that he is off the Landmark project.
"The Landmark is near and dear to my heart," says Danielson. "I thought it was going well, it was going ahead of schedule, and I just don't understand this."
The project has been embroiled in controversy since last month when Georgia-based Silverton Bank withheld some loan money for the project. Minor said this was a result of Silverton defaulting. Danielson and Silverton contended that no such default had occurred.
Minor did not immediately return the Hook's call for comment, but in a November 28 online comment, citing "many issues of poor coordination," he remarked that Danielson "will not be anywhere near the project.
"I have hired a firm that specializes in construction management of hotels to replace Lee, and they are busy cleaning up," Minor noted.
"Lee's history speaks for itself in Charlottesville and LA," continued Minor, referring apparently to post-development acrimony that attended the construction of the Charlottesville Ice Park and Regal Downtown Cinema.
"He had been trying to get someone to back him for four years on the hotel, and just as time was running out I gave him a shot," Minor wrote. "I don't think there are any Halsey Minors left for Lee in his future, I am afraid. This nasty blowup will most likely be his last. Life is too short."
Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris says that while he has no knowledge of whether or how quickly the Landmark is set to be completed, he emphasizes that while the nine-story luxury hotel would be a "vital contributor to Downtown," but that economic life will go on Downtown with or without it.
"If it never exists," says Norris, "it's not like Downtown will die a peaceful death."
Norris says he's hopeful that the project will be completed as scheduled, but has no inside information as to how construction is proceeding and has generally stayed out of the project. Asked whether he has tried to mediate the spat between Danielson and Minor, Norris shudders at the thought.
"Absolutely not," says the mayor, "I'm no dummy."
–last updated 10:32am, December 8