Developer John Dewberry’s plans to complete the derelict Landmark Hotel on the Downtown Mall will go before the Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review on June 20 for the first of several discussions.
Construction of the 10-story building was abandoned in January 2009 after the property’s original owner, CNET founder Halsey Minor, ran into financing issues and his Minor Family Hotels filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010. The luxury project was originally to have had 100 rooms, but the new plan calls for 112 rooms.
The BAR must approve a certificate of appropriateness for the project because the property is within the Downtown Architectural Design Control District.
“The main purposes of the BAR’s oversight are to protect and preserve buildings and properties that serve as visible reminders of the city’s heritage,” reads the website for the nine-member review group.
Dewberry, a Waynesboro native who has become a prominent Atlanta developer, bought the property at auction in June 2012 for $6.25 million. However, the project’s resumption was delayed for several years while he completed another hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, at the former L. Mendel Rivers Federal Building.
The submitted plans include many elements that are present at the Charleston hotel, such as a 3,000-square-foot spa on the first level, as well as limewashed stucco on the Water Street façade.
At the ground level, the plans show a motor court on Water Street, as well as a loading area. There would be three small retail spaces that would open onto Second Street Southeast.
In addition to the spa, the first level would include a 994-square-foot dining area and a 611-square-foot meeting room. This floor also would include a 455-square-foot retail area and a 1,313-square-foot “living room.”
The third level will feature a terrace that overlooks the Downtown Mall. The hotel will scale back from the mall, beginning with the sixth level.
The 11th level will include a 1,837-square-foot “Founder’s Room,” a pair of 825-square-foot terraces on the north and south ends and a 775-square-foot bar area. The terraces would include pergolas.
City Council had pursued steps in early 2016 to find out if the property could be condemned, but in early March, councilors voted 4-1 to grant tax incentives that Dewberry had requested.
“Over the past eight years, the city has heard growing concerns from residents, businesses and visitors regarding the eyesore and safety concern this long-delayed project has created in the downtown area,” reads a portion of their resolution.
The resolution states that the city will lease 75 spaces in the Water Street Parking Garage for a five-year period. The city also will provide a performance grant to Dewberry that will lower the property tax for a period of time.
According to the terms of the incentive plan, Dewberry could receive more than $1 million in tax breaks over a 10-year period if the hotel opens by July 1, 2020. Officials estimate the city could see $8 million to $9.5 million in tax receipts from the property during that time.
In exchange, Dewberry agreed to provide a structural integrity report to the city by July 1, provide details on financing and “expeditiously pursue all necessary city permits.”
The deal also requires the property to be sold if a certificate of occupancy has not been issued by July 1, 2021.
In 2004, the BAR granted permission for the majority of the original bank building on the property to be demolished. However, at the time they required the existing black granite façade to remain in place to retain the character of the Downtown Mall. The BAR amended the permission in 2008 to allow a portion of this façade to be removed as long as it was later rebuilt.
Dewberry’s plans show that the façade would remain in place with new glazing.
The BAR also will consider several other projects on June 20, including an application to create a rooftop bar on top of 511W. Main St. and a mural at 1515 University Ave.