Charlottesville Breaking News

Free at last? Govt-owned bank wins control of Landmark hotel

cover-halseyminor-leedanielsonMinor and Danielson at the 2008 groundbreaking. FILE PHOTO BY JAY KUHLMANN

Three years after ground was broken and two years after lawsuits began flying, the towering skeleton of the planned Landmark hotel crept one inch closer to completion Wednesday, January 19, when a Georgia judge ruled against Halsey Minor on all counts in litigation between him and his lender.

"It was game, set, and match in favor of the bank," says Connor Crook, attorney for another party in the morass, a company controlled by Lee Danielson, developer of the 101-room luxury lodging. "All claims are now resolved between those parties, pending any appeal."

Appeal indeed, says Halsey Minor, a tech industry titan with a knack for waging litigation long after the first gavel has fallen.

"The decision was a travesty of justice," Minor says in an email, "and will be reversed."

The ban...

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Unhealthy situation? Friends question jailed man's death

It had been over 40 years since Jimmy Gunn had been behind bars, and he was terrified of going back. He began telling friends that it wasn't fair that a 60-year-old with myriad health problems couldn't serve his 30-day marijuana sentence on house arrest. He even called the Hook to complain about what America's war on drugs was doing to him. And six days after entering the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, he was dead.

But a marijuana sales conviction last fall coupled with a 1969 possession conviction may have given authorities little option.

Gunn had a history of poor health. He was bipolar, took medication for panic attacks, and relied on an inhaler to treat his emphysema, according to friends and family.

Still, to his friend Teague Herren, Gunn seemed healthy enough when Herren drove Gunn to court on December 9. They were hoping the judge would consider a motion for home electronic monitoring and a restricted driver's license. Instead, Gunn was taken to jail.

"I dropped him off at court, and a week later he's dead," says Herren, "for a pot charge."

Gunn was an artisan carpenter whose work graced the home of the late Dave Matthews Band saxophonist LeRoi Moore. But after a bout of cancer, Gunn had relied on disability insurance, and friends...

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Goodbye, dredging? Brown, Huja, Szakos opt for mega-dam

news-hujaszakos-i1For months, Brown (inset) has been asserting that dredging won't supply enough water. Huja and Szakos now officially agree.

In September, Charlottesville City Council took a stand in favor of dredging to create more local water supply. But on Tuesday, January 18, the same day that one Albemarle Supervisor alleged that dredging might unleash potentially damaging fumes, City Council took a vote that appears to give Albemarle County and the Nature Conservancy what they want: a mega-reservoir to focus the local water supply in a massive lake that would hug Interstate 64.

Talking about the sacrifices made by previous generations, City Councilor Satyendra Huja–- long the issue's ...

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Reversal of fortune: Albemarle House goes on the block


For former billionaire's wife Patricia Kluge, the auctions, the lawsuits, and the loss of the winery bearing her name combined to make 2010 seem to be a very bad year, an annus horribilis as the Queen of England once quipped. Unfortunately for Kluge, 2011 may be worse.

Last year, Kluge put her jewelry, furnishings, and even her clothes up for auction in a bid to stave off creditors. Yet in December, she and her husband, a one-time state wine leader, lost their 960-acre winery to foreclosure, crushing the couple’s dream of bringing high-quality Virginia wine to the national market.

Now, another auction looms. Albemarle House, the mansion where Patricia Kluge once entertained kings, princes, and U.S. presidents in haute grandeur, has been foreclosed upon.

"That house was built at a time when an inkling of that style existed," says architect Dav...

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Heat is on: AG says Biscuit Run deal under scrutiny

Recently disclosed details of the Biscuit Run state park deal have prompted more than public outrage–- they may have prompted an investigation into the transaction that some allege was a government bailout of wealthy investors at taxpayers' expense.

"I can tell you and therefore reassure the public that the Biscuit Run matter is being reviewed by appropriate parties," writes Brian Gottstein, spokesperson for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, in an email. "I cannot say any more than that without potentially compromising an investigation."

As reported in the Hook's January 6 cover story, "Bad Men? New numbers show spiraling costs of Biscuit Run," the owners sold the 1,200-acre property to the state for $9.8 million in December 2009. Several months later, the Virginia Department of Taxation issued $11.7 million in tax credits, more than doubling the price. The former owners–- who include developer Hunter Craig and music mogul Coran Capshaw–- have appealed to the state to issue millions more.

Meanwhile, the new governor–- a Republican who initially endorsed the deal–- now appears to be distancing himself from something arranged by his predecessor, Tim Kaine, who heads the D...

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