Landmark Owner, City Council in Talks About Securing Building
2/2/2014 5:06:21 PM
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (WVIR) -
The owner of the Landmark Hotel on Charlottesville's downtown mall is in talks with the city about securing the crumbling structure.
The negotiations are serious enough that City Council is delaying Monday night's scheduled discussion about the building's safety.
Postponing that discussion will give city planners and a representative for hotel owner John Dewberry time to reach an agreement for Dewberry to shore up the structure.
Charlottesville City councilors tell us Landmark Hotel owner John Dewberry says he is willing to shore up the ten-story structure using his own money.
“The landowner has hired an agent or has an agent now who is talking with the city, and the folks at City Hall feel that there is a good possibility that they will do it themselves, that the landowner will put up better fencing and secure the property,” says council member Kristin Szakos.
Until now, Dewberry refused the city's requests to make the structure safer and questioned the motives.
He called in to the Schilling Show on WINA radio last month.
“If you are going to try to call the property a blighted property and go through this whole rigamarole, are you going to take that property from me,” Dewberry said.
His reversal comes before Monday's City Council meeting where councilors were scheduled to vote on recommendations from the planning commission.
Those included giving Dewberry a month to secure the building, as well as the possibility of demolishing the building if it failed future inspections.
“It benefits everyone if the property owner does the fixes,” Szakos said. “If the city does it, we have to use city funding and the only way to get that back is if the property is sold.”
Construction ground to a halt in 2009, when financial trouble forced the former owner to abandon the hotel.
City Council has set a deadline on the discussions with Dewberry.
“In two weeks it will be back on the agenda if they haven't done it,” Szakos said.
NBC 29 has attempted to contact Dewberry to hear his side of the negotiations and plans to secure the building. He has not yet responded.
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