LETTER- Ludwig's vision deserves respect

With regard to your [June 29] "Ludwig's leave" article, the press release from the Hampshire Group is certainly newsworthy, so I have no problem with The Hook's coverage of it. But the sensational tabloid journalism here is the comparison  between Hampshire Group's Ludwig Kuttner and Tyco's Mark Swartz just because they own nearby properties.

Kuttner bought Estouteville in the late 1970s and has made Charlottesville his primary home for almost 30 years; I would be surprised if Mark Swartz has spent more than 30 days in Charlottesville.

Kuttner restored historic Estouteville to the highest standards. Swartz's Enniscorthy was such a nouveau riche renovation that it was stripped of its National and Virginia Historic Landmark designations. Swartz and Tyco boss Dennis Kozlowski were the epitome of corporate greed, using ill-gotten money (and corporate jets) to buy trophy properties all over the globe; Kuttner lives the same as he has since he came to this country after successfully developing real estate in Germany.

When I approached him about the struggling Waynesboro Village, he had the vision and conviction (that others did not) to back a project that would not see a penny of return for almost 12 years.  

This same vision and conviction led Kuttner to build the Central Place on the Downtown Mall at a time when any serious investor would have been ridiculed for putting money into that space. It led him to spend millions turning the eyesore Woolworth Building into a thriving mixed-use project. With the Frank Ix building, he and Gabe Silverman helped revitalize the south side of the railroad tracks.

It led him– through his and his wife's preference for contemporary art– to help found the now world-renowned New York Academy of Art.

Ludwig Kuttner has always been at the forefront in culture and business, which leaves him subject to attack. But his long-term vision and patient investments have yielded spectacular returns for our community, and he deserves our respect and support. 

Richard T. Spurzem