Saturday, July 3, 2010

Microburst Cleanup; The Landmark Arbitration (A Major Victory for Minor)

The primary activity in Charlottesville this past week has been cleaning up the fallen limbs and trees; there are huge piles on all of the streets and the City is making its way around to collect them.  We ended up being without power for about 48 hours, which was just about the same amount of time as for the early February snowstorm.


I've been getting a hard copy subscription to the Progress for the past week and I love it. I love being able to look at all the local articles, the letters to the editor, the daily editorial, and the ads (it's fun to see who is advertising and how the different businesses are portrayed), and it somehow feels healthier to do a little less of my first-in-the-morning reading on a computer screen.

The major local news yesterday: the results of the Landmark Hotel arbitration became public.  Based on the news reports, the arbitrator sided with Halsey Minor in a big way: Lee Danielson's company is to pay Minor $4.2 million in damages plus $2.2 million in attorneys’ fees and costs. The reports do not say whether the award is subject to appeal (I doubt that it is).

Rachana Dixit summarizes the arbitrator's rationale in her Progress article (here):
[Danielson's company] breached the development agreement between his company and Minor’s by making material misrepresentations and omissions regarding the budget, misrepresenting true costs, failing to inform the owner that restaurant costs were not included in construction estimates and not acting in the owner’s best interest in dealing with the media and the lender. The arbitration ruling states that the cumulative effect of this “deliberative and reckless conduct” on the part of Danielson’s company amounts to “gross negligence.”
In a very strange twist at the end of Dixit's story, Minor says that a continuing bad guy in the Landmark saga is the FDIC! I do not understand his reasoning at all (unfortunately Dixit does not expand on his comment), but he seems to think that the federal government / taxpayers should become involved in financing a resolution of the project, stating “If we live in a democracy, then the FDIC and the banks should have to pay for the destruction that they reaped on my personal life and the city of Charlottesville.

Presumably the FDIC is dragging its feet in the ongoing negotiations to resolve the disagreements related to financing the hotel (?), but to blame the federal government strikes me as absurd (and symptomatic of a tendency in society to blame government whenever anything goes wrong).

There's other Downtown Mall news today: evidently several business owners are complaining to the City about the increase in panhandling recently.  This does not surprise me, because there are definitely more people asking for money on the Mall now than there were 2-3 years ago.  Sounds as though the City is encouraging business owners to read and act on existing Code provision, but I'll be interested to see if there's a discussion abou the issue at upcoming Council meetings.

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