Unfinished Landmark hotel may face demolition

After four years, Landmark presents safety hazard to the community


After four years of stagnant production on the unfinished skeleton of the Landmark Hotel on the Downtown Mall, Charlottesville City Council must determine the fate of the East Water Street building.

Charlottesville’s Department of Neighborhood Development Services requested a spot blight abatement plan for the abandoned Landmark Hotel, which would grant the city the authority to acquire or repair the property and implement any safety measures to secure the hotel against trespassers.

The hotel currently poses a hazard to the public safety, said Jim Tolbert, director of the neighborhood development office.

“The presence of graffiti on upper floors of the building is evidence that the property has not effectively been secured against entry by the public,” Tolbert said in the staff report on the abatement plan.

The hotel is owned by Dewberry Capital, a real estate company based in Atlanta that specializes in the acquisition, development and management of real estate. The neighborhood development office said Dewberry Capital has made no effort to ensure the safety of the building in the past four years.

Though complaints in the past have cited the structure as unattractive, the office now says the structure is unsafe.

“Once individuals gain access to the property, they are at risk of injury on this unfinished construction site, and present a safety risk to other persons either by falling themselves, or by dropping or causing items to fall from an upper story onto the Mall,” the report said.

Tolbert contacted John Dewberry, president of Dewberry Capital, in October, asking him to propose a solution to the problem. “I can no more control a graffiti artist from climbing the fence at my property than you can a bunch of teenagers head strong to ‘roll’ your home, trees and yard,” Dewberry responded, according to Tolbert.

If Dewberry Capital takes no further action, Charlottesville will move forward with a plan to secure the building, and the company will incur the cost, Tolbert said.

According to the neighborhood development office’s report, Dewberry said construction will not begin on the Landmark Hotel until construction begins on the Dewberry Hotel in Charleston. The company is still waiting on financing for the Charleston hotel, so all construction in Charlottesville remains stalled.

Published January 14, 2014 in FP test, News

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