February 18, 2014
It appears the unfinished Landmark Hotel on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville will be getting some much-needed improvements in the near future.
The nine-story luxury hotel project was originally slated to be complete in the summer of 2009, but it still sits unfinished off East Water Street.
For months, the city has been asking property owner John Dewberry to remove graffiti and make the unfinished building more secure.
In January, the city planning commission deemed the building to be blighted.
On Tuesday, council members were supposed to vote to determine whether they believe the skeleton structure is blighted. The owner would then have 30 days to make the improvements before the city would take it into its own hands and reach into its own pockets.
But minutes before Tuesday's council meeting, the city received a proposed agreement from Dewberry saying the company will do something about the problems.
Some improvements listed on the proposed agreement include removing trash, getting rid of graffiti and securing access points to keep trespassers out.
"This is $50,000 to $75,000 of work to get this done minimum. I mean, it may be more than that. I think it's a win-win for us that we've finally gotten them engaged, and they are working with us," said Jim Tolbert, Neighborhood Development Services director.
Council deferred a vote on taking action until they see if the company follows through with its word on making the improvements.
"We cannot compel them to complete the construction. That's out of our hands," said Tolbert. "The conversations that I've had with them are very encouraging about where they are with that. That's the first encouraging words I'd had in a while from that."
But not everyone is so optimistic.
Charlottesville resident Rebecca Quinn can see the hotel from her home. She says, while the proposed agreement sounds like progress, she wants the city to ensure the improvements are made sooner than later.
"I certainly don't want us to be in a situation where another three or four years from now they haven't gotten under construction and we're back here at the same point," said Quinn.
If Dewberry doesn't follow through with an agreement, the city council can still return to make the blight determination vote they put off at Tuesday's meeting.
At that point, Dewberry would have about a month before the city would make the improvements and bill him or opt to tear it down.